For her “unity fundraiser” Saturday evening at downtown club Capitale, Democratic mayoral nominee Muriel E. Bowser managed to unify many of her D.C. Council colleagues behind her for her general election tilt against independent David A. Catania — including former mayoral rivals Jack Evans (D-Ward 2), Vincent B. Orange (D-At Large) and Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6).
She also stood side-by-side with Marion Barry (D-Ward 8), who no more than three months ago suggested that Bowser was an “amateur” who was “not ready to manage a $10 billion corporation called the DC government.” On Saturday, according to video posted to Bowser’s Facebook page, Barry spoke much more highly of the Ward 4 council member and offered a rallying cry to her supporters.
“We’re gonna kick David Catania’s ass,” the former four-term mayor said to wild cheers, later leading a chant of “Muriel for Mayor.”
Barry briefly explained his change of heart, noting that Bowser’s father worked on several of Barry’s mayoral campaigns. “We share the same philosophy,” he said. “In the democratic process, people can choose their candidate, and I chose Vince Gray. But he lost, and Muriel Bowser won.”
Asked about the threat to his boss’s hindquarters, Catania campaign manager Ben Young said Barry’s not-unexpected endorsement (he previously said he would back whoever won the Democratic nomination) undermined Bowser’s campaign slogan of offering a “fresh start” in the mayor’s office.
And Young renewed criticism of Bowser for putting off debates and joint campaign appearances with Catania until later in the summer: “If you’re willing to stand with Marion Barry while he’s yelling at a crowd about how he going to kick someone’s ass, but you’re not willing to have a substantive debate of the issues, that’s kind of weak.”
In her own remarks Saturday — also posted to her campaign Facebook page — Bowser did her best to project that she is taking nothing for granted. The months of July and August, she said, would be devoted to living-room meetings with voters, and she called on supporters to organize more of them. “If you put 30 people in a room with wine and cheese, I’ll be there,” she said.
Still, Bowser stopped well short of characterizing her battle with Catania as a competitive race: “If Democrats vote, Democrats win,” she said. “Period, end of story.”