Bowser wins Democratic DC mayoral nomination and AP projects

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Muriel E. Bowser (D), the no-nonsense politician who has led the district for eight years, won the Democratic nomination for mayor on Tuesday, Associated Press projections show, beating two left-leaning council members on her way to becoming just the second three-term mayor in DC history.

Bowser, 49, fended off challenges from council members Robert C. White Jr. (At Large) and Trayon White Sr. (Ward 8), who sought to persuade voters the district needed someone new at the helm to close the equity gaps and address other pressing issues such as rising violent crime. Instead, voters concluded that Bowser should serve another four years, accepting his campaign promises to increase the size of the city’s police force and maintain the mayor’s control over the district’s public schools.

“Today I’m following in the footsteps of Marion Barry,” Bowser said on election night, referring to DC’s legendary “mayor for life,” who served four terms. “Tonight, we choose a future that represents our DC values.”

Tuesday’s result shows city Democrats still supportive of Bowser’s moderate touch, which has at times seen her clash with an increasingly left-leaning DC Council on issues like paid parental leave. for workers and tax increases for wealthy residents. Both Trayon White and Robert White ran to the left of Bowser on several key questions, making them the preferred choices of many in the city’s progressive bloc.

Phil Mendelson and left-wing candidates win DC Council primaries

In the DC Council presidential race, Phil Mendelson won the Democratic nomination against challenger Erin Palmer, according to AP projections. Outgoing board member Brianne K. Nadeau and DC State Board of Education representative Zachary Parker were both expected to win in Wards 1 and 5, respectively; Brian Schwalb won the Democratic nomination for DC’s attorney general; and Incumbent Anita Bonds beat out three other candidates to retain her at-large seat, according to the AP. Incumbent Eleanor Holmes Norton was expected to win the Democratic primary race for DC’s congressional delegate position.

In heavily Democratic DC, the primary generally determines the outcome of the November election for most races.

The win for Bowser, whose approval ratings dipped slightly this year compared to 2019, according to a February Washington Post poll, also ends speculation that voters might have been ready for a change after nearly a decade with her in charge. The Post poll found that a majority of locals approved of Bowser’s professional performance, but most respondents said she didn’t do well in addressing what they saw as the company’s biggest problems. city: crime and housing costs.

Wendell Felder, the chairman of Ward 7 Democrats, was unequivocal on Tuesday when he said he voted for Bowser, though he acknowledged there is room for improvement. Felder said he was impressed with Bowser’s leadership of how “she led the city in the midst of a pandemic and how she stood up to the president [Donald] Asset.”

“I think she’s a proven leader and what the city needs right now,” Felder said.

Late Tuesday night, Bowser walked into a packed Franklin Hall in northwest Washington to the pounding bass of Stevie Wonder’s “Sir Duke” — a song written about DC native Duke Ellington. , “Four more years!”

Outside, drivers honked their horns in celebration.

“She didn’t take it for granted,” said Cherita Whiting, who works in Bowser’s office and has used many of her vacation days to support her boss’ campaign. “I felt like she deserved it the whole time, but you don’t know what’s going to happen until everyone comes in and votes.”

Brian Schwalb Wins DC Attorney General Primary and AP Projects

Those who supported Robert White and Trayon White said they were looking for a new face in the city’s executive office.

Zakiya Williams-Tillman, 31, said it was time for a change after voting for Bowser in his last two campaigns. She credited Bowser for his efforts to build affordable housing, though she continues to worry that Bowser hasn’t done enough to prevent longtime residents from being evicted from the city.

“I’ve been here since I was 18,” said Williams-Tillman, who voted for Robert White. “I thought we had hope with her, but I didn’t really like the job she did.”

In a concession speech Tuesday night, Robert White, who was widely considered the most viable of Bowser’s three opponents, gave an impassioned concession speech to a crowded room of supporters. He congratulated Bowser and said he would continue to work with her as a board member.

White has not ruled out another mayoral bid in the future.

“I say keep hope alive. For people who know me, you all know this isn’t the first time I’ve fallen,” Robert White said, appearing to refer to his failed 2014 bid for a seat on the DC Council. “I will never stay down.”

Trayon White’s election watch party in Southeast Washington was quieter than her staff had hoped; When the results came in, Trayon White said he was proud of his campaign, calling his first citywide election “the hardest thing he’s ever done.” He called Bowser to congratulate her and later appeared at her party, where he shook her hand.

Bowser said she would use her third term to help DC regain its pre-pandemic vibrancy while advancing initiatives to bring more grocery stores and restaurants to neighborhoods east of the Anacostia River, where residents also have the fewest options for fresh food. than implementing the recommendations of a new task force aimed at boosting black homeownership.

To implement her goals, she will have to work with a board that seems to be moving even further away from her centrist politics. Parker in Ward 5 was embraced by progressive groups, and Nadeau, who championed liberal causes, took on a moderate candidate’s challenge to win the Democratic nomination in Ward 1. And in Ward 3, Matthew Frumin, who has run as a progressive, is in a close race to succeed board member Mary M. Cheh.

Council members Mendelson and Bonds, more centrist incumbents, won against challengers who ran to their left.

Known to many DC voters as a stable, albeit private, leader, Bowser largely avoided scandal during her two terms and selectively embraced the national spotlight, such as when she turned the street outside the White House from Trump in “Black Lives Matter Plaza” and addressed public hours after the Jan. 6, 2021, uprising on Capitol Hill, when information about the incident was still scarce.

Residents have widely praised his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, although some have been frustrated by failures that have hampered the initial rollout of the vaccine in the city. She also delivered on a campaign promise to tear down the DC General homeless shelter and replace it with smaller shelters across the city, while drastically reducing the number of homeless families in the district – despite having recognized that it needed to do more to reduce the homelessness experienced by single adults.

And while housing affordability is a major concern for voters, Bowser has invested more than $1 billion during his tenure in the city’s main housing production tool, in an effort to deliver on his vow. to build 36,000 new homes in the city by 2025, including 12,000 affordable units. Its opponents, however, claimed that it relied too much on developers and that new construction had forced some longtime residents out of town.

Many voters have criticized Bowser over the years, but enough agreed on Tuesday that she was the best candidate to advance city interests, including the ongoing fight for statehood.

“I think she’s grown really, really well in this role and has asserted strong support for district initiatives over those of the federal government,” attorney Kim Katzenbarger said. Katzenbarger said it was important to elect leaders who would fend off “the federal government’s constant erosion” of district efforts; Republican members of Congress have frequently attempted to interfere in city affairs, even threatening to limit DC’s ability to govern itself.

Others pointed to Bowser’s leadership over city schools; When Imma Filstrup, 44, moved to DC 22 years ago, she didn’t think public schools would be an option for her kids. But then Bowser took over, she said, and the system began to improve in her eyes.

“I remember thinking that once people have kids they leave DC because the school system isn’t good here, and I don’t think that’s true anymore,” Filstrup said, adding that her daughter will go to Eaton Elementary School in two years. A longtime Bowser supporter, Filstrup also said she prefers stable leadership, especially as the city faces an increase in violent crime.

“She’s done well enough to trust him to keep going,” she added.

Nazmul Ahasan, Gaya Gupta, Vanessa G. Sanchez, Perry Stein, Rachel Weiner, and Daniel Wu contributed to this report.

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