David Catania, the city’s Republican-turned-Independent who is running for mayor, has embarked on a make-or-break campaign strategy to appeal to Democrats, who are three-fourths of D.C. voters. Here are five reasons he has a chance to make the city’s mayoral contest the most competitive general election in D.C. history:
John and Margaret “Peggy” Richardson
The prominent Democratic attorney, who was a member of former Mayor Anthony Williams’s administration, and his wife, former President Bill Clinton’s IRS commissioner, held a meet-and-greet Thursday night for more than 40 people at their apartment in D.C. and most ended up contributing to Catania’s campaign, said John Richardson. “I don’t think party affiliation means nearly as much as the local level as at the national level.” The last local(ish) candidate the two helped elect? Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D).
Chief of staff to the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Petroshius says Catania will be her first-ever vote for a non-Democrat. The reason: Her two young children attend a D.C. public school on Capitol Hill. “Schools are my number one issue,” said Petroshius, who also opened her home this week for Catania and found many leaving with “Democrats for David!” signs. “I don’t see a lot of misalignment for me on the issues. It’s more important that the city has the right person running it than having the party running it – and I say that as a longtime Democrat.”
A Democratic political operative who has advised everyone from presidential candidate Al Sharpton to former Mayor Adrian Fenty, Ruffin says it’s time for D.C.’s African American voters to look beyond race and party label. “I’m an Al Sharpton-left-wing-Afro-Centric Democrat and I’m fully behind David,” Ruffin said. “We’re at a critical point in this town where a population has been overlooked .. policies that were led by African Americans have led to gentrification … Labels are not going to feed a poor black family.”
A prominent national Democratic political strategist, Rosen says she’s an enthusiastic Catania supporter, and says that knowing his Republican roots. Rosen, who is also active in LGBT causes, said Catania’s biggest issue to overcome is the city’s racial divide, not party label: “I actually don’t think his sexual orientation is as relevant as his race from a political perspective,” she said.
The PTA president at H.D. Woodson High School, east of the Anacostia River, recently spent hours at Catania’s Dupont Circle headquarters getting briefed on Catania’s economic policy and other elements of his platform to be an emissary for the Independent in some of the city’s roughest African American neighborhoods.
Mike DeBonis contributed to this story.