DMV Daily: Council Members Rally Behind Biddle
Council candidate gets big-name support
By P.J. ORVETTI
Updated 4:12 PM EST, Wed, Jan 5, 2011
A lot of members of the D.C. Council really don’t want their old colleague Vincent Orange to return.
Council members Muriel Bowser, Mary Cheh and Harry Thomas Jr. confirmed to The Washington Post that they are all backing Orange’s main rival in Thursday’s D.C. Democratic State Committee vote, Sekou Biddle. Cheh said she has been “trying to help” Biddle for weeks, while Bowser said she backs Biddle, a D.C. Board of Education member, because he lives in her Ward 4. Thomas frankly admitted he is backing Biddle to “support the chairman” — Kwame Brown is a vocal Biddle supporter.
A fundraiser for Biddle at Ben’s Chili Bowl last night — even if he loses on Thursday, he’ll be a candidate in the April special election — also featured an appearance by Marion Barry. Ward 7’s Yvette Alexander is also for Biddle. So it seems like at least six current councilmembers are backing Biddle. Influential Democratic activist Peter Rosenstein also endorsed Biddle Tuesday, the Georgetown Dish reported.
The candidate selected Thursday will hold the seat on an interim basis until the Apr. 26 special election. So far, 13 candidates have picked up petitions for that race, and 10 of them are Democrats. Since all candidates will be on the ballot, with no primary first, some Republicans have hopes of picking up the seat on a split Democratic vote — but no Republican has yet to pick up petitions. (Two unaffiliated candidates and one Statehood Green candidate have.)
And one non-candidate is being asked to run. An online draft effort is encouraging progressive Democrat Bryan Weaver, who ran a spirited and creative campaign in Ward 1 last year, to enter the At-Large race. Weaver tells me he thought the draft “was a joke until this morning. Honestly, it is a bit overwhelming.” So, will he run? “I have been kicking it around,” he says.
Elsewhere in the DMV:
* If Orange does get back on the Council, Washington City Paper’s Lydia DePillis wrote he could end up on the Public Services and Consumer Affairs Committee, which oversees PEPCO — “where he served as a vice president for government affairs (read: lobbyist) from 2007 to 2010.”
* Adrian Fenty is now a Greater Talent. The ex-mayor has signed on with the Greater Talent Network, “the leading celebrity speakers bureau,” as a talker-for-hire. Fenty’s official GTN bio calls him “a national leader in the area of urban education reform,” and he will probably focus on education in his paid appearances.
* Mayor Vincent Gray appeared on Capitol Hill Tuesday with Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, shadow representative Mike Panetta and other D.C. voting rights advocates to urge the new Republican House majority to let Norton keep her largely symbolic limited floor vote. (Norton can only vote on the floor when her vote would not change the outcome.) At a rally, Gray said, “I don’t want my money back. I want the product. If you go into a store and pay for it, you want your product, right? I paid for this vote!”
Activists — but not Gray — then proceeded en masse into incoming Speaker John Boehner’s office to press their case. They only got as far as Boehner’s deputy chief of staff, who politely rebuffed them.
Even though the D.C. Republican Party, which arguably would have ever so slightly more sway with the House GOP, also backs Norton’s vote, it did not take part in Tuesday’s protest. The D.C. GOP says it is “more effective for us to do one-on-one meetings with staff and members” of Congress.
* The next WMATA general manager may not be from a transit background. WTOP reported Metro is down to three finalists, and while board members “are reluctant to provide specific names due to the finalists’ ongoing duties with their current organizations,” board chair Peter Benjamin said. “They are CEOs over a broad range, well beyond traditional transit.” Benjamin said the board has “spoken to candidates from the private sector, non-transit public sector and transit.”
Meanwhile, the Washington Examiner reported former Amtrak CEO Tom Downs has been tapped by Gray to serve as one of D.C.’s two voting members on the Metro board. The other is Ward 6 Council member Tommy Wells.
* The official behind the FDA’s efforts to ban alcohol-infused drinks such as Four Loko is joining the O’Malley administration,” the Examiner reports. Joshua Sharfstein, a former Baltimore health commissioner now serving as the principal deputy commissioner at the federal Food and Drug Administration, “is returning to Maryland after nearly two years in the Obama administration to head the state health department,” the Baltimore Sun reports.
* The Maryland Daily Record reported state Attorney General Douglas Gansler is proposing 25 changes to Maryland’s campaign finance laws, “including closing a loophole that allows businesses to bypass donation limits by routing funds through subsidiaries.” Gansler would also “tighten restrictions on slates of candidates, which can be used to transfer unlimited campaign funds,” and “update campaign law to cover new technologies, like social networking websites Facebook and Twitter.”
In related news, Delegate Veronica Turner, of Prince George’s County, is “submitting a bill for the upcoming legislative session to boost candidate filing fees for most political hopefuls,” the Gazette reported. Right now, it costs $290 to file for statewide office. Turner wants to boost that to $2,000. “We need people who are going to take it seriously,” she said. “If you are going to be a good candidate, then you don’t mind paying the fee.”
* Washington Business Journal reported D.C. “was one of 22 jurisdictions that saw regional and state unemployment rates rise in November, while Maryland and Virginia’s rates remained unchanged.” The District’s unemployment rate ticked up one-tenth of a point to 9.8 percent. Maryland stayed at 7.4 percent and Virginia at 6.8 percent.
* Under30CEO calls D.C. one of the top 10 cities for young entrepreneurs.
* The Hill is Home extols D.C. in the winter.