The Washington Post

Mara, Silverman spar over Romney, Barry in D.C. council race

Patrick Mara responds to a question at Promised Land Baptist Church in March during a debate for an open D.C. council seat. (Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post)

Republican Patrick Mara is pushing back against criticism of his support for Mitt Romney in last year’s presidential race, saying his endorsement pales in comparison to those made by Democratic candidates.

In an interview this week, Mara stood by his endorsement of Romney, saying he knew the 2012 GOP presidential nominee was never going to carry the District’s three electoral votes.

“We all knew he wasn’t going to win in the District of Columbia, but supporting him was an important part of growing a two-party system in the District of Columbia and growing a check and balance,” said Mara, who served as a Romney delegate at last year’s GOP national convention and contributed money to his campaign.

Mara faces five other candidates in the April 23 special election for an at-large seat on the D.C. Council. Several of the other candidates, including incumbent Anita Bonds (D-At large) and Democrat Elissa Silverman, have questioned whether Mara’s past support for Romney proves he’s out of touch with the city’s heavily Democratic electorate.

Mara shot back this week by accusing Silverman of endorsing former council chairman Kwame R. Brown and council member Marion Barry (D-Ward 8) when she wrote the City Paper’s Loose Lips column in 2004.

“She has endorsed a whole bunch of people, and that impacts a heck of lot more people than being a delegate for Mitt Romney,” Mara said. “The folks who supported [politicians] locally have done a lot more harm to the District than Mitt Romney has.”

But it’s debatable whether Silverman really supported Brown, who resigned last year after pleading guilty to bank fraud, and Barry in 2004.

According to a review of Silverman’s past writings, she urged readers to support Brown in the general election. But in the Democratic primary earlier that year, Silverman was sharply critical of Brown and urged readers to support his opponent, Sam Brooks.

“In the election that really counted, I didn’t endorse Kwame,” Silverman said in an interview.

Mara’s charge that Silverman supported Barry also appears questionable. In the primary that year, Silverman wrote she “cannot support another Barry comeback, and neither should Ward 8 voters.” But after Barry won the primary, Silverman made what appears to be a light-hearted endorsement of the former mayor.

Barry was running against Republican Cardell Shelton, a perennial candidate with a thin record.

“LL picks unfit over absurd,” Silverman wrote.

Despite that back-handed nod to Barry, Silverman blasted Mara’s attempt to tie her to him.

“This is him trying to deflect off Pat Mara being a true Republican, not a liberal, fiscally sound one,” Silverman said. “There are plenty of Republicans I know who voted for Barack Obama because they did not think Mitt Romney reflected their Republican Party, but Pat helped get Mitt Romney on the ballot.”

Mara counters that city voters don’t care who a D.C. Council member supports in a national campaign.

“The beauty is, that really is the only thing they are attacking me for,” Mara said. “At the end of the day, who cares what people do at the national level.”

Tim Craig is The Post’s bureau chief in Pakistan. He has also covered conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and within the District of Columbia government.



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