Gertrude Stein Democratic Club not to endorse a candidate in special election

March 22, 2013

The Gertrude Stein Democratic Club voted Thursday night not to endorse a candidate in the April 23 special election for a D.C. Council seat, but Democrat Elissa Silverman had the most support from the group.

After a candidates’ forum, the group of gay and lesbian Democrats voted 39 to 26 to support Silverman over incumbent Anita Bonds (D-At large), who is filling the council seat pending the special election.

Silverman received 54 percent of the vote, shy of the 60 percent needed to secure a formal endorsement from the group.

Despite not getting an endorsement, Silverman said the vote was a victory for her campaign, noting she overpowered Bonds, who has extensive ties with the club as the sitting chairwoman of the D.C. Democratic Committee.

“I think it’s very significant that we got 54 percent of the vote,” said Silverman, a former reporter who is on leave from the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute. “I think it shows the broad, grassroots, citywide reach of my campaign.”

But several of Bonds’s supporters questioned the voting process.

They accused Silverman supporters of being too negative during nomination speeches. At one point, Bonds supporter Robert Brannum, and a Silverman backer, Phil Pannell, got into a heated shouting match over which side was being more disrespectful to other.

Pannell, a former head of the Ward 8 Democratic Committee who has sparred with Bonds for years, threatened to quit the club if Bonds won the endorsement.

“If the club endorses a piece of trash like Anita Bonds, I will resign,” Pannell yelled as the voting began.

Other speakers also directed their ire at Bonds, who they accused of not moving fast enough to implement reforms within the D.C. Democratic Committee.

Janice Davis, president of the National Federation of Democratic Women, said the tone used by some Silverman supporters was inappropriate. She noted Bonds was not in the room to defend herself.

“This process should be a fair process, and the process should lift people up, not tear people down,” said Davis, a Bonds supporter. “To me, this process was absolutely unfair and promotes divisiveness.”

Tim Craig is The Post’s bureau chief in Pakistan. He has also covered conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and within the District of Columbia government.
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