Mayoral candidates make statements with real estate

January 21, 2014

Sometimes a campaign headquarters is more than a campaign headquarters.

So hopes D.C. Council member Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4), who on Tuesday announced the impending opening of her second mayoral campaign office, to be located in the heart of Historic Anacostia in Ward 8 — on Martin Luther King Avenue SE, steps from Good Hope Road.

The announcement comes days after Bowser garnered the most votes at the Ward 8 Democrats straw poll, and her campaign was not shy in linking the new office to her proposal to name a deputy mayor specifically tasked with issues east of the Anacostia River, not to mention her commitment to “talking to, and more importantly, hearing from” residents across the city.

“This office is just the first step in a long effort,” Bowser said in a campaign statement. It’s also a step in Bowser’s effort to pull votes from incumbent Vincent C. Gray in an area he expects to be dominant.

Bowser, whose main campaign headquarters is on Georgia Avenue NW, amid her Ward 4 base, isn’t alone in trying to make a statement with her real estate. Council member Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) has opted for storefront pace on 14th Street NW, just north of U Street, in the heart of an area Evans has said is emblematic of the revitalization he wants to bring to other parts of the city. Council member Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) has set up shop, on Pennsylvania Avenue SE, in his longtime base of Capitol Hill where his “livable, walkable” philosophy has made him one of the council’s most popular incumbents. And restaurateur Andy Shallal is renting space not far from Bowser’s new digs — in The Hive incubator space on Good Hope Road SE, a choice that makes a statement both in its geography and its association with small-business start-up culture.

As for Gray, campaign manager Chuck Thies said he expects to open multiple spaces “with ceremonial pomp and circumstance” the weekend after next — one headquarters east of the Anacostia (or, the “east end,” in Gray’s preferred formulation), and another in Northeast on the border of wards 4 and 5. A third space, a field office, could also be opened further to the west, Thies said.

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 · January 21, 2014