For the third time in less than 18 months, there's a new chairman of the D.C. Democratic State Committee.
And the news doesn't bode well for Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D). His political arm suffered another break last week when Anita Bonds, one of his top aides, lost the election for chairman of the District's local political party to Wanda Lockridge, a savvy Ward 8 operative.
Lockridge, who was elected to a two-year term, is married to D.C. school board member William Lockridge, who ran unsuccessfully for the Ward 8 council seat during the September primary. Bonds is a veteran activist and the recently hired director of community services under Williams.
Last month, Williams publicly endorsed Council member Harold Brazil (D-At Large), who lost overwhelmingly throughout the city.
Bonds said she didn't talk to the mayor about her decision to run and doesn't see her loss as a reflection on his administration's political record.
"I really don't," Bonds said. "The mayor wasn't making any calls for me."
Possible explanations for Bonds's loss, according to interviews with committee members, are that she works closely with the mayor and that as a government employee, she wouldn't be able to raise funds that the organization badly needs.
As chairwoman, Lockridge will lead the District's state party, which has 72 members, as it works to register Democrats and support candidates and party causes. She replaces A. Scott Bolden, a prominent lawyer and political aspirant, who finished the term of Norman C. Neverson, who resigned amid controversy in May 2003.
Bolden lost his seat on the committee after he failed to win as an at-large member on the Victory 2004 slate in the September primary. He said Lockridge would have more freedom than Bonds to run the party.
"Wanda was the right choice because it would be literally impossible for a government employee to chair the party," said Bolden, who added that he spent 24 hours some days building a political apparatus for the party.
"It can't be done while you're covered by the Hatch Act," he said. "The Hatch Act says you can't touch money, raise money or engage in partisan politics during working hours. Democratic State Committee members knew it and understood it and appreciated it."
Lockridge, who has been active in the party for about 12 years, works in sales and marketing for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Running against Bonds was not an easy decision, Lockridge said, but she felt she could be more objective without the ties to the mayor. Lockridge also said she plans to deliver a message to the mayor from residents east of the river.
"I want to make sure everybody has a voice," Lockridge said. "The word is that people in Ward 8 hate the mayor. We tried to embrace the mayor and get him to come out here and listen to us. We want to be part of this city. We just want to have his ear."
Lockridge said she will represent Democrats from all wards and pointed out that her slate represents the city's diverse community. The other newly elected officers are Ron Bitondo, vice chairman; Jeffrey Norman, treasurer; Phil Pannell, recording secretary; and Yvette Alexander, corresponding secretary.