The D.C. lawyer suing the city in an effort to keep the election for attorney general on the ballot next year has officially declared his intentions to run for the office.
Paul Zukerberg is the first person to declare his candidacy in the election and while Monday’s announcement does push him to the forefront of the race, it might also provide him better standing in his current lawsuit.
Lawyers from the attorney general’s office, which is defending the city in the lawsuit, wrote last week in court filings that as a voter Mr. Zukerberg would not “suffer any meaningful hardship” as a result of the four-year postponement of the election.
But in a response filed in U.S. District Court for the District on Monday, after candidacy paperwork was filed with the D.C. Board of Elections, Mr. Zuker-
berg amended his complaint to argue that he will be harmed as both a voter and a candidate in the race.
“I think the standing was fine on this,” he said of the original complaint. “But that will cover the universe.”
D.C. voters overwhelmingly approved the election in a 2010 referendum, but council members passed legislation in October that pushed back the election until 2018. The law does not officially take effect until after it passes a 30-day congressional review period, which is estimated to be Dec. 20 at the earliest. The attorney general’s office also argued that Mr. Zuker-
berg’s lawsuit should be thrown out because the legislation is not yet law.
But noting that between Friday and Jan. 2 candidates will have to collect 2,000 signatures in order to get on the ballot, Mr. Zuckerberg said candidates can’t wait any longer if they are to have a chance in the race.
“There is already precious little time for the process to follow its planned course, even if, by some miracle, Congress does not recess and the passage period ends on December 20,” wrote Gary Thompson, Mr. Zukerberg’s attorney, in Monday’s court filings. “If potential candidates await the Congressional review period before taking the actions they must to qualify for the ballot, it will be too late. The election demanded by the voters will have effectively been killed.”
A federal judge has scheduled a Thursday preliminary injunction hearing in the case, even as Mr. Zukerberg takes the first tentative steps onto the campaign trail.
“As attorney general, I will fight corruption, protect our citizens, and reform our broken juvenile justice system,” said Mr. Zuckerberg, who ran unsuccessfully last year for an at-large seat on D.C. Council. “And I will never sit idly by, or bow to pressure, when the voting rights of District residents are threatened.”
Both Attorney General Irvin B. Nathan and D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray have spoken out in opposition to the election delay, but Mr. Nathan’s office has provided legal guidance stating that the delay is legal.