D.C. Council member Jim Graham hinted Thursday that he’s likely to seek reelection next year, even though he may be reprimanded next week for violating city ethics standards.
“I’m always very reluctant to walk away,” Graham said. “And I think if the election were held today in Ward 1, I would win, against any field.”
Now in his fourth term, Graham has excelled at maintaining his hold on Ward 1, melding constituent services, a progressive voting record and quirky demeanor to become one of the most recognized politicians in the city.
Four years ago, Graham received 56 percent of the vote against two challengers in the Democratic primary. But Graham, 67, will have to decide soon whether he plans to compete for a fifth term in a race that could prove his toughest to date.
Graham has been battling allegations that he improperly intervened in a contract dispute in 2008 when he also sat on the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority Board. On Monday, the D.C. Council will vote whether to formally reprimand Graham.
Graham denies wrongdoing, but is facing one opponent who plans to try to to make his character an issue if he seeks reelection.
“Jim Graham represents old school pay-to-play D.C. politics, and D.C. residents are sick and tired of politicians who are better at producing scandals than producing results,” Brianne Nadeau, the candidate in the race, said after the Board of Ethics and Government Accountability questioned Graham’s role in the matter this month.
Progressive activist Bryan Weaver, who unsuccessfully challenged Graham in 2010, and community activist Terry Lynch are also reportedly considering bids for the Ward 1 council seat next year.
For months, Graham has told reporters that he probably won’t decide whether to seek reelection until the fall. But at a news conference Thursday, Graham started to sound like a candidate as he argued that he’s confident that Ward 1 voters would focus on his legislative and community record.
“The people in Ward 1 know how hard I’ve worked, how I have solved issues and quality of life, day after day,” said Graham, who added that he could build a campaign around his success at improving neighborhoods in Ward 1. “The transformation of Ward 1 from vacant lots to chain-linked fences are something I was very much a part of, so I think people understand that.”
Graham concedes that he is also likely to benefit from the fact that voters don’t seem to be paying particularly close attention to the various ethical controversies swirling around the John A. Wilson Building.
“People, by and large, they don’t like an ethics violation, that’s for sure, but they don’t quite understand what this is all about,” Graham said of his pending council reprimand.