Today’s column on the upcoming special election for an at-large seat on the D.C. Council quoted Republican candidate Patrick Mara as telling the audience at a recent forum in the Chevy Chase neighborhood, “Please don’t split the vote.”
Before filing the column, I e-mailed Mara’s campaign manager, Daniel Hoicowitz, and asked what Mara meant by that remark. Hoicowitz replied via e-mail. Here is his response in full:
Patrick has spoken about this with voters a few times.
In 2012, Mara supported Sekou Biddle in the Democratic Primary. Biddle is a progressive Democrat with a background in education reform. Patrick believes that we need more Council members who focus on education as well as ethical government. Patrick often says, “We can’t fix our schools if our government is broken.”
In the 2012 Democratic Primary, Biddle and Peter Shapiro were on the ballot. Shapiro is a progressive Democrat who was campaigning on a message of reform. In the same election Vincent Orange was on the ballot. Orange was in the middle of a controversy about his self-described “suspicious money orders” and connections to Jeffrey Thompson.
Orange won that election. Some people speculate that voters who were interested in ethics and education split between Biddle and Shapiro.
As you know, Patrick ran in the 2011 special election. Again, Orange was on the ballot. Voters had several reform-minded candidates to choose from, including Patrick, Sekou Biddle, Bryan Weaver and Joshua Lopez. Patrick came in a close second to Orange..
Again, had voters coalesced around one of the reformers, perhaps Orange would not have won.
So, when you hear Patrick say “Don’t split the vote,” he is referring to the dynamic that seemed to have played out in 2011 and 2012.
I advised Hoicowitz that I would make sure his view was reflected in my column. I failed to do so, and I apologize to the Mara campaign.