Catania picks up business leader’s endorsement in race for D.C. mayor


Barbara Lang, seen here at an April 11, 2013, event, is the former head of the D.C. Chamber of Commerce. (Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)

David A. Catania picked up a notable endorsement Thursday in his outsider bid for D.C. mayor, gaining the support of Barbara Lang, a former president of the D.C. Chamber of Commerce.

In backing Catania (I-At Large), Lang became the most high-profile African American supporting the D.C. Council member’s candidacy. Catania is seeking to upset council colleague and Democratic nominee Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4), on Nov. 4.

Lang said she had met with Bowser and Catania in recent weeks and quizzed both on their vision for the District’s future before deciding on Catania.

“I was extremely impressed with David’s vision . . . especially on education,” Lang said. “He’s been a lightning rod, quite frankly, on the topic on the city council, and that is the key to so many issues.”

Lang also mentioned “business issues. Those are near and dear to my heart. He made a commitment to continue some of the efforts we’ve begun under Mayor Gray, such as regulatory reform.”

Lang stepped down last year after an 11-year run as president and chief executive of the Chamber. The current Chamber president, Harry Wingo, said the group has not taken a position on any candidate.

Lang, a Democrat, was a strong supporter of Vincent C. Gray (D) in the April 1 primary, but she said party affiliation — which she has changed before — was not a big concern.

“It’s not about party. It’s not about race or gender. It’s about who can do the best job for the city,” Lang said.

On that score, there were two other factors in Lang’s endorsement, she said: Catania’s hefty legislative record — “which we didn’t always agree on” — and his passion for the job.

“He asked,” Lang said. “He said, ‘I want your endorsement, and what can I do to get it?’ ”

Lang, who represents the District on the regional airports authority, said she is awaiting guidance from the city’s ethics board on how active she can be in working to help elect Catania.

Lang’s support for Catania also reunites the two on the same side against Carol Schwartz, a longtime Republican member of the council who lost her seat in 2008.

That year, Lang and Catania backed Schwartz’s opponent.

Lang, 70, said she’s too old to endorse for any reason but the right ones: “All I want out of this is a well-run city.”

Aaron Davis covers D.C. government and politics for The Post and wants to hear your story about how D.C. works — or how it doesn’t.
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