- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 8, 2016

WASHINGTON (AP) - The final primary of the campaign season will be contested next Tuesday in the nation’s capital, where 330,000 registered Democrats will have a chance to weigh in on their party’s choice for president. Here are some things to know about the District of Columbia primary:



Presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton is considered a big favorite. The District is 49 percent black, and Clinton has fared well in states with large African-American populations. Clinton has also been endorsed by most of the city’s elected officials, including Mayor Muriel Bowser and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, who represents the District in Congress.

D.C. Council member Anita Bonds, the chairman of the city’s Democratic Party, said support for Clinton was overwhelming among the 1,500 people who voted for convention delegates at a pre-primary caucus last month. That was one reason Bonds, who is also a Democratic superdelegate, went ahead and endorsed Clinton on Wednesday instead of waiting until after the primary, which has been her usual practice.

“I think the support here is because many of the older residents remember and they have talked fondly of the time when Bill Clinton was president,” Bonds said. “And when you look at those who vote in the District of Columbia, they do tend to be the longer-standing residents who would have a history and perhaps a memory of that.”



In a speech Tuesday night, Clinton celebrated the milestone of becoming the first woman to secure the nomination of a major U.S. party, and she has turned her attention to presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump. But Bernie Sanders has pledged to continue his campaign through the District primary. He has a campaign rally scheduled for Thursday at the D.C. Armory.

“The struggle continues,” Sanders said.

Clinton has not scheduled any campaign appearances in the nation’s capital.



In the most-watched local race, former mayor Vincent Gray is seeking to return to the D.C. Council, challenging incumbent Yvette Alexander in his home ward. The ward is east of the Anacostia River, a section of the city that is overwhelmingly black and struggles with poverty, crime and high unemployment.

Gray served one term as mayor, defeating Adrian Fenty in 2010. While he got solid marks for his stewardship of the city, a lengthy federal investigation revealed his 2010 campaign was rife with corruption. An influential District businessman, Jeffrey Thompson, admitted setting up an illegal, $660,000 slush fund to help Gray get elected, and Thompson was one of six people involved in the campaign who pleaded guilty to felonies.

While the mayor denied all wrongdoing, the investigation took its toll on Gray, who lost in the 2014 Democratic primary to Muriel Bowser, who is now mayor. Prosecutors decided in late 2015 not to charge Gray, and he announced his bid for the Council shortly thereafter.

If elected, Gray would be an antagonist for Bowser, who painted him as corrupt. He refused to endorse her after her victory, and the two are not on speaking terms. However, their differences are rooted more in personality than politics: Both are mainstream Democrats with liberal views on social issues and strong ties to the city’s business community.

Alexander is considered vulnerable. In the 2012 primary, she won with just 42 percent of the vote.



At-large Council member Vincent Orange, who has squeaked out narrow victories in past races and fared poorly in his 2014 bid for mayor, faces two challengers this year. However, he’s on solid footing with voters as the author of popular legislation increasing the District’s minimum wage to $15 an hour, which the Council approved unanimously this week. He was also endorsed by Bowser and The Washington Post.

In Ward 8, Council member LaRuby May, a Bowser ally who succeeded the late Marion Barry, faces a strong challenge from Trayon White, who narrowly lost to her in the special election after Barry’s death.

Ward 4 Council member Brandon Todd, who succeeded Bowser, is expected to win his first full term.

Two District political stalwarts are running unopposed: Norton, the city’s longtime Congressional delegate, and Ward 2 Council member Jack Evans.



The District will use new voting machines that can transmit results directly to the city elections board’s downtown offices. Elections officials hope that will mean results will be available much faster than in the past, when poll workers had to hand-deliver the numbers and voters waited for hours to learn about results, even in low-turnout elections.

Turnout in the city’s 2012 Democratic presidential primary was 16 percent, with President Barack Obama running unopposed. In 2008, when Obama defeated Clinton in the city’s primary, turnout was 44 percent.

Early voting began on May 31, and as of Tuesday, more than 9,300 people had voted early. During the 2012 primary, there were 6,200 early votes.


Follow Ben Nuckols on Twitter at https://twitter.com/APBenNuckols. His work can be found at https://bigstory.ap.org/content/ben-nuckols.

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