Less than a week remains until the April 26 special election, and the at-large D.C. Council candidates are making their final arguments. While most involve “vote for me,” there is now some “don’t vote for him.”
Campaign mailings to this point — not to mention candidate forums and other events — have been mostly free of attacks on fellow candidates. UNITE HERE, a national union representing mostly hotel and restaurant workers, is sending a mailer comparing candidate Sekou Biddle to Vincent Orange. Both are Democrats.
It reads: ”Vote for a teacher” — Biddle, represented by an apple — “not a politician” — Orange, represented by moldering citrus.
The flip side compares Biddle’s teaching career to Orange’s stint as a Pepco lobbyist and a “career politician” who is “funded by special interests.”
The mailer is being accompanied by a robocall, a union source says. “Like you, I’m fed up with politics as usual,” says “Mabel,” who identifies herself as “a “D.C. Public Schools parent” before urging a Biddle vote.
Sean Metcalf, an Orange campaign adviser, says they take the attacks in stride. “We’re down to the last few days,” he said. “There are going to be continued attacks on the front-runner.”
Orange, for his part, seems more concerned about Republican Patrick Mara than Biddle. His campaign is sending out a mailer that ties him to the national GOP to precincts expected to be heavy on Mara voters.
”The Republicans in Congress have been planning to cut hundreds of millions in funding for our city,” the flyer reads. “It gets worse. Now they want to put Republican PATRICK MARA on the DC Council!”
On the other side, Orange says of Mara: “He’s a card-carrying member of the GOP who has never spoken publicly against the recent acts of his own Party in Congress.”
Mara said in response that it’s not just Republicans who agreed to cut funding. “It’s a pretty bipartisan effort to throw D.C. under the bus, and history shows that,” he said. Mara has pledged to put a renewed effort on lobbying GOP members of Congress.
Thus far, there’s been little outward support from the national GOP for Mara’s candidacy. Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.), best known for being one of two African-American GOP freshmen, offered Mara his support in the course of a keynote address at last month’s D.C. Republican Committee gala. And Mara has been using Republican National Committee headquarters to make campaign calls, among other places.
As for not speaking out against “recent acts of his own Party,” Mara says he opposed the GOP’s imposition of a budget “rider” prohibiting local tax dollars from being spent on abortion coverage for low-income women. And asked if he would vote to continue local abortion funding, should Congress some day lift the rider, Mara said that he would.
BUD’SPAC, an independent committee supporting Mara, this week sent out a mailer of its own gently criticizing Orange, albeit quite obliquely.