Eleanor Holmes Norton wins Democratic primary for D.C. delegate

Voters in D.C. cast ballots Tuesday in the closely watched Democratic primary race for mayor between Adrian Fenty and Vincent C. Gray.
By Ben Pershing
Wednesday, September 15, 2010; 2:34 AM

D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton easily defeated her second primary opponent in 20 years Tuesday, securing the Democratic nomination en route to reelection in November.

With nearly all precincts counted, Norton had more than 90 percent of the vote against Douglass Sloan, a Ward 4 Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner and political consultant who ran on the message that the District needs a change after two decades of having the same person shepherd its interests on Capitol Hill.

Sloan ran an aggressive campaign, seeking to project youthful energy and make the case that he could do a better job securing voting rights for the District in Congress.

Norton's fundraising dwarfed Sloan's, and a Washington Post poll conducted in August found that the incumbent remained broadly popular in the city, with 78 percent of registered District voters saying they had a favorable impression of her. The poll suggested that although D.C. residents want voting rights in Congress, they don't blame Norton for the years-long impasse on the issue.

Sloan vowed to bring more jobs to the District if elected, although Norton and her backers note that her seniority in the House and her chairmanship of a key subcommittee have enabled her to steer money to local projects.

Sloan also campaigned on his support for the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, which provides federal vouchers to help students attend private schools. Norton opposed the program, which is coming to an end after losing its funding from Congress.

In 2006, neighborhood activist Andy Miscuk challenged Norton in the Democratic primary, garnering 7 percent of the vote. Norton has otherwise been unopposed in primary contests since she was first elected in 1990.

Norton has had similarly little trouble dispatching general election opponents. This year, Missy Reilly Smith is the lone candidate for the GOP nomination, while two hopefuls -- Natalie Nicola Stracuzzi and Rick Tingling-Clemmons -- were vying for the Statehood Green Party nod.

"I run hard with or without an opponent," Norton told The Washington Post this month.

In the race for the District's "shadow" U.S. representative, two-term incumbent Mike Panetta was squaring off in the Democratic primary against Nate Bennett-Fleming.

Panetta had the endorsements of City Council members Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3) and Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6). Bennett-Fleming, a 25-year-old law student, also had the support of two City Council members: Marion Barry (D-Ward 8) and Harry Thomas Jr. (D-Ward 5).

The winner of the Democratic contest will face Republican candidate Nelson Rimensnyder and Statehood Green Party candidate Joyce Robinson-Paul, both of whom were unopposed in their respective primaries.

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