Lorie Masters seeks D.C. attorney general post in November election

A veteran insurance litigator and voting rights advocate on Wednesday became the fifth candidate to seek election as the District’s attorney general.

Lorie Masters joined the first-ever race for the city government’s top legal post with less than a month remaining in the ballot-qualification period. Masters and fellow Democrats Karl A. Racine, Edward “Smitty” Smith, Lateefah Williams and Paul Zukerberg have until Aug. 9 to collect signatures from 3,000 registered D.C. voters to qualify for the Nov. 4 ballot.

“I think I can make a contribution,” said Masters, 59, a partner at the firm Perkins Coie whose practice mainly involves representing policyholders in disputes with insurers. But she has also been active in the D.C. Bar and local advocacy circles.

She is a former board member of D.C. Vote, the preeminent group advocating for District voting rights, and a board member of the D.C. Appleseed Center for Law and Justice, a policy nonprofit group that studies various local issues.

Her service to the former group included working on an ultimately unsuccessful proposal to give the District a seat in the House of Representatives; for the latter group, she helped develop a novel approach to winning more budgetary freedom from Congress.

That approach to District budget autonomy is under review by a federal appeals court. Masters is representing a group of prominent lawyers who have filed a legal brief in support — a position at odds with the District’s appointed attorney general, Irvin B. Nathan.

“That work shows that I’ve had a long commitment, that I want to help make sure that the rights and perspectives of D.C. voters are respected,” she said.

Masters said she would also use the attorney general’s office to fight for pay equity and workplace diversity issues, including pushing for legislation to make compensation levels more transparent.

But her primary focus, she said, would be on “ethical issues” within the District government.

“This will be an independent position, that’s the point,” Masters said. “At some level, it is a check on the other power centers in the government. I think that’s what the voters intended.”

Masters, who is married and has two grown children, is a Michigan native who has been a D.C. resident since 1981. She lives in the Upper Northwest neighborhood of Barnaby Woods in Ward 4. She is a graduate of Georgetown University and the University of Notre Dame law school.

Mike DeBonis covers local politics and government for The Washington Post. He also writes a blog and a political analysis column that runs on Fridays.
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