D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) is officially on the glide path to become the first D.C. mayor to win reelection since Anthony A. Williams in 2002.
Wednesday was the deadline to file as an independent for the November ballot. While a host of little-known long shots, including a homeless man and a college student, said they would run against Bowser, only two people submitted petition signatures to get on the ballot: Dustin Canter, a 33-year-old yoga teacher, and William E. Hunt, a 70-year-old lobbyist. Their spots on the ballot will not be official until a 10-day period to challenge signatures ends this month.
Bowser will also face Libertarian Martin Moulton and Statehood Green Party candidate Ann Wilcox in November.
But none of those candidates has the name recognition or campaign bank account to seriously threaten Bowser, 46, a well-funded and popular incumbent whose aides say she isn’t popping champagne just yet.
“Mayor Bowser has been clear: We will continue to work hard to earn and keep the support of our residents, and we will take no one and nothing for granted,” said John Falcicchio, her chief of staff.
Attorney General Karl A. Racine (D) also considered challenging Bowser, but he is instead running for a second term. Former mayor Vincent C. Gray (D), whom Bowser unseated in 2014 and is now on the D.C. Council, declined to seek a rematch.
“Well, there were a lot of people asking me to do that, and I just didn’t do it,” Gray said in an interview Thursday. “I’m in a position right now where I have a chance to really do a lot of good, and that’s what I’m trying to do.”
Bowser was not without vulnerabilities this year. The D.C. school system has been mired in scandal, including fraudulent graduation rates and the ouster of the chancellor, and homicides in the District have risen sharply.
But Bowser has remained personally popular, and her campaign has raised nearly $2.5 million to fend off opponents. She cruised to victory in the June Democratic primary with nominal opposition and 80 percent of the vote.
The Democratic primary generally decides the victors in the deep-blue District. But the general election also decides an at-large council seat reserved for non-Democrats, and progressive council member Elissa Silverman (I) faces a cast of challengers in her bid for a second term.
S. Kathryn Allen, a 63-year-old insurance agent, is running with the support of the business community as well as former mayor Williams and former council member David Catania. Ward 8 business owner Dionne Reeder and Rustin Lewis, a professor at the University of the District of Columbia, also have submitted signatures. Also on the ballot are Republican Ralph J. Chittams Sr., Libertarian Denise Hicks and Statehood Green Party Candidate David Schwartzman.
Traci L. Hughes, a former internal D.C. government watchdog who was ousted from her position, announced her candidacy with sleek campaign videos but did not submit her signatures. She did not return calls seeking comment.
Perennial candidate Calvin H. Gurley filed signatures to challenge Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) after dropping out of the Democratic primary.
Candidates also have filed signatures to challenge every other Democratic council member on the ballot: Jamie Sycamore against Brianne K. Nadeau (Ward 1); Petar Dimtchev against Mary M. Cheh (Ward 3); Amone Banks and Kathy Henderson against Kenyan R. McDuffie (Ward 5) and Statehood Green Party candidate Joyce Robinson-Paul; and Nathan Brown and Clayton Rosenberg against Charles Allen (Ward 6) and Republican candidate Michael Bekesha.
D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D), who easily fended off a primary challenge, faces Republican Nelson F. Rimensnyder and her 2016 opponents, Libertarian Bruce Majors and Statehood Green Party candidate Natale Stracuzzi. Independent John Cheeks also submitted signatures to qualify for the race.
Reis Thebault contributed to this report.