- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 15, 2011

One of the District’s most popular Republicans has rejected an offer from Mayor Vincent C. Gray to serve on the city’s elections board.

Mr. Gray, a Democrat, asked former City Council member Carol Schwartz, at-large Republican, to fill the vacant seat on the three-member D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics. Former Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, a Democrat, tried to fill the seat with another Republican, Mital Gandhi.

However, Mr. Gray, who was chairman of the City Council at the time, and with the backing of fellow Democrats on the council, rejected the nominee after announcing his mayoral run against Mr. Fenty.

Mrs. Schwartz, who failed in her four bids for mayor, but succeeded in three of her four citywide council runs, did not return phone calls. But a spokeswoman for the Gray administration said the mayor contacted her.

The elections board is supposed to have three members, with one being part of a “minority” party. In the overwhelmingly Democratic District, that means a Republican or a member of the Statehood Green Party or another third party would hold the seat.

Republicans said the problem isn’t with potential nominees, but with Mr. Gray “playing politics.”

“The mayor’s administration has never contacted the DCGOP for help in searching for a nominee,” said Paul Craney, executive director of the D.C. Republican Party. “If he did, we would have potential candidates. The mayor only benefits with a Board of Elections and Ethics full of Democrats.”

He said the mayor’s team appears to have embarked on a strategy of saying it has approached Republicans about filling the seat but that they declined.

“This is a very pathetic attempt at an excuse,” Mr. Craney said. “It’s nothing more than the mayor playing politics with one of the most important boards in D.C.”

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