For a second straight mayoral election, it seemed, the D.C. Republican Party wouldn’t have a mayoral candidate.
No city Republican filed ballot petitions earlier this year for the April 1 primary, meaning that the mayoral line on the GOP ballot was blank. A whole lot of other lines were left blank, too: The party nominated only two candidates last week, both of whom ran unopposed: Nelson Rimensnyder for the congressional delegate post, and Marc Morgan for an at-large D.C. Council seat.
But D.C. GOP Chairman Ron Phillips said Monday that the party is reserving its right to place candidates on the Nov. 4 ballot for offices not contested in the primary. That could mean a more crowded general-election race for mayor and four council seats, including the chairmanship.
Phillips said he’s had talks with “several” potential candidates for various offices, including mayor. He said the unusually early primary election cycle and a transition in party leadership left some Republicans unprepared to pursue primary runs. Now, Phillips said, the party will undergo a “due process” to evaluate and potentially nominate additional candidates, with decisions expected well ahead of an early-September deadline.
A GOP mayoral candidate would appear on the ballot alongside Democratic nominee Muriel E. Bowser, Statehood Green nominee Faith, Libertarian nominee Bruce Majors and presumptive independent candidate David A. Catania. As a major-party nominee for the city’s highest office, a Republican would have a significant platform during what could be the highest-profile mayoral general election in 20 years.
“It’s going to be challenging for a Republican to run for mayor to begin with,” Phillips said, citing the party’s 12-to-1 registration disadvantage. “But we as a Republican Party believe that we want to offer ideas and solutions and be engaged in the electoral debate of how the city should be run and what the city’s future should be.”
Phillips said that a GOP candidate’s effect on the viability of Catania — a former Republican who will be making a big play for non-Democratic votes — is not of concern.
“David Catania is not a Republican,” he said. “He’s an independent candidate, and my job is to elect Republicans to office. That goes the same for Councilwoman Bowser. … Democrat or independent is not Republican.”