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Progressive David Grosso will not seek reelection to D.C. Council in 2020

D.C. Council member David Grosso attends one of the final D.C. Council meetings before summer break in June.
D.C. Council member David Grosso attends one of the final D.C. Council meetings before summer break in June. (Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post)
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D.C. Council member David Grosso (I-At Large), a progressive who has championed issues from paid family leave to decriminalizing sex work, announced Tuesday he will not seek a third term next year.

“I have always believed at my core that holding the same seat for too long is not good for the office, it’s not good for the institution, and it’s not good for Democracy,” Grosso said in an email to supporters. “I have decided not to seek a third term in 2020 and to pass the baton to the next generation of progressive leaders.”

Grosso chaired the council’s education committee, including during last year’s school scandals that resulted in the ouster of a chancellor and deputy mayor for education. Some education activists said he failed to effectively oversee the school system, and Grosso saw his influence over education issues diminished this year.

He has been one of the most left-wing members of an increasingly liberal council, supporting publicly financed elections and the legalization of recreational marijuana.

Grosso, who unseated incumbent Michael A. Brown in 2012, was also among the most outspoken lawmakers on ethics and clean-government issues. Brown was beset by questions over his finances and later went to prison for taking bribes.

Grosso has been among the fiercest critics of Jack Evans (D-Ward 2), who is embroiled in an ethics scandal, and was the first to call for him to resign in July.

Grosso’s departure will create an opening on a council that had no open seats in the past two election cycles.

Several candidates are planning to run at-large as independents, including school board member Markus Batchelor, Capitol Hill-area neighborhood commissioner Chander Jayaraman and Eric Rogers, who managed Council member Phil Mendelson’s 2018 reelection campaign. Brown, who finished serving time on bribery charges in 2017, has also said he is considering running for his old seat.

More candidates are expected to get in the race now that there is an open seat.

There will be two at-large seats on the November 2020 ballot — and only one can be a Democrat under the city’s home rule charter. The Democratic nominee is generally assured victory in a deep blue city, leaving independents, Republicans and third-party candidates to compete for the second seat.

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