- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 19, 2018

The District’s primary elections yielded no surprises Tuesday, with all elected officials successfully defending their seats and voters approving a measure to apply the city’s minimum wage to tipped workers.

Voters going go to the polls braved sweltering heat and thundershowers, which probably contributed to low voter turnout. Polling officials noted that fewer than 3 percent of registered voters had submitted early ballots — a 1 percentage point drop from the 2014 primary.

Mike Williams, 64, a poll worker in Southwest for 18 years and captain at Precinct 142 inside Jefferson Middle School said only 233 votes had been cast by 3 p.m. — half the normal amount.

“It’s dead everywhere. No excitement anywhere at all, except the at-large race,” said political consultant Chuck Thies.

Because Democrats dominate D.C. politics, the results of the Democratic primary contests have historically determined the winner of November’s general elections.

Mayor Muriel Bowser handily won her re-election bid, despite a rash of education and housing scandals over the past year. Her Democratic primary win sets her on an easy path to become the first D.C. mayor to be reelected since 2006 and the first woman to win reelection as mayor. She announced last month that she was taking some time away from her office to focus on bonding with a baby girl she had just adopted.

Miss Bowser faced challenges from Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner James Butler and real estate company owner Ernest Johnson.

With 128 of 143 precincts (89.5 percent) reporting, Miss Bowser received 53,661 votes (79.95 percent), Mr. Butler garnered 6,875 votes (10.25 percent) and Mr. Johnson won 4,019 votes (5.99 percent).

Tuesday night, protesters from the Black Youth Project blocked the road near Miss Bowser’s victory party at LeDroit Park in Southeast, the Washington City Paper reported. They handed out leaflets listing the police brutality and maternal health disparities in black neighborhoods during the mayor’s tenure.

Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, who has been the District’s nonvoting representative in Congress since 1991, was the hands-down winner of her Democratic primary. Mrs. Norton, 81, is eyeing her 15th congressional term in November’s elections.

Her primary challenger, Kim Ford, is a former Obama administration official.

Mrs. Norton won 52,502 votes (76.08 percent), and Miss Ford received 16,040 votes (23.24 percent).

D.C. Attorney General Karl A. Racine ran unopposed in his Democratic primary, placing him on a glide path to re-election in November.He is the city’s first elected attorney general, a position that had been appointed by the mayor before voters approved a 2010 charter amendment that took effect in 2014.

In one of the more contested Democratic races, D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson squared off against progressive activist Ed Lazere, who challenged the more moderate Mr. Mendelson in debates and campaign events across the city.

“What’s different in this election is that in my race, as well as a number of other races, we’re seeing very left or very to-the-left candidates challenging incumbents,” said Mr. Mendelson, who has served on the council since 1999.

Mr. Mendelson got 42,086 votes (62.46 percent), and Mr. Lazere received 24,960 votes (37.04 percent).

A key issue separating Mr. Mendelson and Mr. Lazere was Initiative 77, which would require the city’s minimum wage to apply to all hourly workers, including bartenders, servers, table bussers and others who typically receive tips. Mr. Lazere supported the measure, and Mr. Mendelson, with the majority of the council, opposed it.

A question mark had hung over Initiative 77’s chances before Tuesday’s closed primary: Only registered voters with a party affiliation can vote for primary candidates, but initiative issues are open to all voters. Worker rights advocates backed the measure, and business owners, lawmakers and many tipped workers opposed it.

Votes for Initiative 77 totaled 40,657 or 55.14 percent, and votes against the measure totaled 33,081 or 44.86 percent.

Another contested Democratic race emerged for the at-large council seat held by Anita Bonds. She faced challenges from Jeremiah Lowery, a member of the Safe School Certification Advisory Board, and Marcus Goodwin, a real estate professional.

Ms. Bonds received 33,990 votes (52.06 percent), Mr. Lowery won 15,528 votes (23.78 percent), and Mr. Goodwin garnered 15,285 votes (23.41 percent).

Councilmember Brianne Nadeau faced a trio of opposition in the Democratic primary for her Ward 1 seat — former magistrate judge Lori Parker, community organizer Sheika Reid and former Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Kent Boese.

Ms. Nadeau won 4,191 votes (48.94 percent), Ms. Parker collected 1,072 votes (12.52 percent), Ms. Reid got 1,098 votes (12.82 percent), and Mr. Boese received 2,176 votes (25.41 percent).

Councilmember Mary Cheh ran unopposed in the Democratic primary for her Ward 3 seat.

Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie faced a trio of Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners — Bradley Thomas, LaMonica Jeffrey and Gayle Hall Carley — and engineer Nestor Djonkam in the Democratic primary for his Ward 5 seat.

Mr. McDuffie received 6,333 votes (68.81 percent), Mr. Thomas got 1,168 votes (12.69 percent), Ms. Jeffrey collected 230 votes (2.5 percent), Ms. Carley won 1,388 votes (15.08 percent), and Mr. Djonkam secured 32 votes (.35 percent).

Councilmember Charles Allen squared off with Lisa Hunter, a former Obama Health and Human Services official, in the Ward 6 Democratic primary.

Mr. Allen won 9,394 votes (68.17 percent), and Ms. Hunter garnered 4,340 votes (31.49 percent).

In other primary elections:

⦁ The D.C. Republican Party had only one candidate running in its main primary — Michael Bekesha, who will challenge Mr. Allen in November for his Ward 6 seat on the city council.

⦁ The D.C. Statehood Green Party offered four candidates in its main primary — Natale “Lino” Stracuzzi for delegate, Ann C. Wilcox for mayor, David Schwartzman for at-large councilmember and Joyce (Chestnut) Robinson-Paul for Ward 5 councilmember.

⦁ The Libertarian candidates were Bruce Majors for delegate, Martin Moulton for mayor and Denise Hicks for at-large councilmember.

• Julia Airey can be reached at jairey@washingtontimes.com.

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