The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Mark Tuohey drops out of D.C. AG race, endorses Karl Racine

A big shakeup to the unsettled, first-ever D.C. attorney general election appears to be in the works: Mark H. Tuohey, the white-collar defense lawyer who livened the race when he announced his candidacy last month said Wednesday that he is dropping out of the contest.

In lieu of running, Touhey said, he is throwing his support behind Karl A. Racine, another big-time defender who has been exploring a run. Racine, of the Venable firm, has acknowledged exploring a run in recent weeks but did not return messages Wednesday seeking comment on his plans.

Racine had not picked up ballot petitions as of 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, according to a board spokeswoman.

Tuohey said in a brief interview that he had decided to enter the attorney general race after it appeared that Racine was unlikely to run. But he said Racine now plans to enter the race, with roughly a month remaining before the ballot petition are due. Should Racine choose to run, he would have to collect signatures from at least 3,000 city voters, a nontrivial task.

Paul Zukerberg, the Adams Morgan attorney who fought to put the office on the ballot, and Edward “Smitty” Smith, a former federal lawyer, have also said they intend to run.

Two other lawyers, both women, could also launch runs. Lorie S. Masters, an insurance litigator for Perkins Coie who is active in civic matters, said Tuesday that she’s still considering entering the race. And Lateefah Williams, a former president of the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, wrote in a recent Washington Blade column that she has sought to pick up petitions, but her eligibility for the office is under review.

Under city law, the attorney general must have been “actively engaged … in the practice of law in the District of Columbia” for at least five of the prior 10 years, unless employed as a judge, law professor or a federal or D.C. government employee. Williams said in her column that while she has been a member of the D.C. Bar in good standing, she has held policy and legislative jobs in recent years that may not qualify her under the statute.