Top D.C. Democrat: Bowser loss would be ‘hard to explain’


D.C. Democratic State Committee leader Anita Bonds says mayoral nominee Muriel Bowser could use national help. (Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post)

The day after Muriel Bowser won the Democratic mayoral primary, local party leader and fellow D.C. Council member Anita Bonds declared that it was time for national Democrats to step up.

“We’re asking them to put resources in here,” Bonds said on April 2, highlighting the unusual general election challenge from fellow lawmaker David A. Catania (I-At Large). “We’re going to be talking about thousands, whatever it takes.”

Three months later, with not only Catania but former council member Carol Schwartz in the race, Bonds says she is continuing to push national party honchos to make a splash as Bowser keeps a low profile on the campaign trail. “We’re expecting help,” Bonds said after Monday’s council meeting. “We pointed out that we’re running against a well-known [former] Republican who has been elected and who has a record of achievement.”

At regional party meetings last weekend in New York, Bonds said she discussed the race with officials from the Democratic Governors Association — making the case that the D.C. mayor is more akin to a governor than a mayor and thus deserving of DGA support. The stakes for the party are high in a city that has seen an unbroken 40-year streak of Democratic mayors, she explained: “To not be successful in the District of Columbia, that would be difficult to explain to Democrats in Nebraska, to Democrats in Montana, even Democrats in Louisiana.”

Whether or not the governors’ group shares Bonds’s expansive definition of “governor,” the Democratic National Committee continues to pay lip service, if not yet cash infusions, to Bowser’s campaign. “Since winning her primary, Muriel Bowser has had the full support of the DNC and we are committed to making sure she’s elected the next Mayor of Washington in November,” said spokesman Mike Czin on Tuesday.

Money is not the only big ask, Bonds said — endorsements from prominent national Democrats are also welcome. “We will have surrogates,” she assured.

Including President Obama, who has handled D.C. politics with kid gloves ever since his Justice Department started diving into local corruption cases?

“He could very well do that,” Bonds said. “Mrs. Obama, Vice President Biden — yes, indeed.”

Mike DeBonis covers Congress and national politics for The Washington Post. He previously covered D.C. politics and government from 2007 to 2015.

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Mike DeBonis · July 16, 2014