DISTRICT VOTERS face a historic and important choice in the city’s first election for attorney general on Nov. 4. The person they choose must have legal and management skills and the right sensibilities to shape the contours of a changing office in challenging times.
An attractive field of candidates has emerged. When voters overwhelmingly approved shifting the office from appointed to elected in a 2010 referendum, doubters (including us) worried it might attract candidates with more political ambition than legal acumen. But the five candidates vying for the office — Lorie Masters, Karl Racine, Edward “Smitty” Smith, Lateefah Williams and Paul Zukerberg — are serious people with solid backgrounds. That they have other options — some, in fact, would see a salary cut if elected — makes their desire to serve in public office all the more noteworthy.
Ms. Masters, Mr. Zukerberg and Mr. Racine would bring the most experience to the office. We are impressed with Ms. Masters’s work as a partner for Perkins Coie and her advocacy for women, children and D.C. rights. We admire Mr. Zukerberg for the mettle he showed as an early champion of marijuana decriminalization and for leading the fight to get the attorney general race on this year’s ballot. But we believe that Mr. Racine, a partner with Venable LLP, is uniquely qualified — and the best choice — to be the District’s first elected attorney general.
Mr. Racine’s 25 years of experience as a lawyer is noteworthy for its depth and range. He volunteered as a law student in a clinic supporting migrant farmers’ rights, worked as a public defender in the District, practiced white-collar and commercial litigation with Cacheris & Treanor, was associate general counsel in the Clinton White House and has served on selection panels for judges. His experience as a manager — he was the first African American managing partner of a top-100 law firm — will be particularly important in overseeing an office that has 556 employees, including 308 attorneys, and building bridges to other departments.
A lifelong resident of the District with a rich record of community service, Mr. Racine knows the city and the operations of its government. That he has seen what has worked and what hasn’t worked would make him an able addition to the District’s leadership. Mr. Racine understands that the city’s interests are best advanced by cooperation among the branches of government, and he knows the law and is committed to upholding it and the independence of the attorney general.
We urge D.C. voters to elect Karl Racine attorney general on Nov. 4. Early voting begins Oct. 20.
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