Yesterday, Ron Moten — a co-founder of the anti-violence group Peaceaholics, longtime supporter of Mayor Adrian Fenty and master political showman — announced that he’d be running for Yvette Alexander’s Ward 7 seat on the D.C. Council.
And according to TBD’s Bruce DePuyt, the D.C. GOP is welcoming the move. “I’ve discussed this with him, and we welcome him making this change,” said Bob Kabel, the party’s chairman. “His philosophy is very much in sync with ours.”
In a statement sent to the media this afternoon, Kabel predicted the move — which he called “brave and courageous” — would be a winning one.
“The era of one-party rule over this town is going to come to an end. All across the District people come up to me and say: ‘Yes, I like what you are doing. I want more accountability, I want more honesty and I want more choices.’ I am just getting to know Ron and am excited by the energy and enthusiasm he has already brought to our party. I look forward to working with him the years ahead,” Kabel stated.
Moten laid out the case for himself in an op-ed that will be published on the Post’s Local Opinions page on Sunday, writing of the dangers of a single-party dominating District politics, celebrating the history of the Republican Party and coining a new term for the party he’s joining: the “Civil Rights Republicans.” Moten writes:
A lack of political balance has created an alarming trend in our city. With only one cookie-cutter template from which to bring about change, we have created a local political class who all think, act and support the same platform. We seem to be afraid to change the status quo. We support corrupt leadership and blame the messengers who expose the truth, rather than facing facts and withdrawing our support.
The move is either a brilliant piece of political theater or a savvy strategic shift. Either way, both Moten and the GOP win — they get a candidate, and he gets to stay in the race through the November general election, where he’ll go head-to-head with the Democratic nominee. (Currently, Alexander faces challenges from Bill Bennett, Tom Brown and Kevin Chavous Jr.)
More important, though, as a Republican, Moten can draw upon the party’s 29,000 registered citywide supporters for money. The D.C. GOP has been creative in identifying new candidates to run under the party mantle, but none of them have yet to unseat an incumbent Democrat. (The only time it happened was when David Catania won a special election in 1997, but he bailed on the Republicans a decade later.) If Moten seems like a winner, they may well pony up to help. He certainly needs it — as of the last campaign finance reports, he only has $940 in the bank. Alexander has over $40,000.
And while it may have caught many by surprise, the move makes some sense given Moten’s affinity for Fenty, who himself tried to cross party lines to attract Republican and independent support.
You couldn’t really pick a worse place to be a Republican than in Ward 7, though — no other ward has as large a gap between registered Democrats and Republicans. And no matter how much local Republicans try to argue that they have a long and distinguished history locally (and they do), they’re still going to be bogged down by their association to their national counterparts. In an era of high unemployment (nationally, but more specifically in Ward 7), any hints that congressional Republicans have been trying to block President Obama’s efforts will certainly have local resonance. The attack ads will likely write themselves.
Still, it should be interesting to see how Moten defines conservatism in the District, or if the D.C. GOP tries to define it for him. It’ll likely be the former, though, as D.C. Republicans run the gamut from gay-friendly to abortion-hating.
If anything, it’ll sure give the D.C. GOP some campaign ad flavor they haven’t had before, right?