Phil Mendelson hasn’t given up hope on changing primary date


Mendelson said September won’t be too late to move the primary. (Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post)

The D.C. Council was supposed to have taken up emergency legislation Wednesday that would move next year’s District primaries from April 1 to June 10. But Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, the lead proponent of the idea, pulled the bill, acknowledging he didn’t have the requisite nine votes.

That doesn’t mean he has given up, mind you. Mendelson (D) said Friday he is holding out hope the date still might be changed when the council comes back from its summer recess in September.

What would help move the ball, he said, is some public engagement on the issue.

“If there’s some agitating out there, that might make a difference,” he said. “I think the world on the outside wants the date moved.”

This reporter speculates the “world on the outside” generally doesn’t give much of a whit, but certain members of the political class have complained for months about the April date, saying it pushes campaigning into the winter months and holds the potential for a long lame-duck periods.

Should the council take the matter up in September, it would involve moving the election date with less than six months to go.

Mendelson rejected the suggestion that would be too close for comfort: “If we made the date sooner, that would be a problem,” he said. Giving people more time to campaign, “you can’t say that’s a hardship.”

Mike DeBonis covers local politics and government for The Washington Post. He also writes a blog and a political analysis column that runs on Fridays.
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Mike DeBonis · July 12, 2013