With early voting officially under way in the District’s Democratic primary and the April 1 election less than two weeks away, some influential backers are making a final attempt to sway key races.
Democracy for America, the million-member national political organization founded by former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, endorsed three D.C. Council candidates on Wednesday afternoon.
For Ward 6, which encompasses the Capitol Hill neighborhood, the group is backing Charles Allen, the longtime chief of staff for current Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells, over Darrel Thompson, who left his job with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., this fall to dive into city politics. The nod is no surprise, since Allen is a founding member of DC for Democracy, a local DFA-inspired group.
In Ward 1, DFA is backing Brianne Nadeau over incumbent Jim Graham.
Neil Sroka, a locally-based DFA spokesman, offered his support for Nadeau in an email circulated to more than 14,000 D.C. metro-area members and obtained by CQ Roll Call.
“As a Columbia Heights and Ward 1 resident, I couldn’t be more excited to have a young, progressive woman like Brianne standing up to corruption in the Wilson Building for me,” Sroka said.
D.C. Shadow Rep. Nate Bennett-Fleming got a nod from DFA for the at-large council seat currently held by Anita Bonds.
“And, as a committed Statehood supporter, I want to make sure that Nate can be an even more forceful advocate for ending DC residents’ second-class citizenship,” Sroka wrote in the email.
The progressive group’s endorsement could help all three candidates with their get-out-the vote efforts in the final sprint to the primary election. National staff members of DFA will be working to recruit volunteers from the organization’s large local membership.
Another key citywide endorsement on Wednesday afternoon came from “mayor-for-life” Marion Barry.
The Ward 8 councilmember, who formerly served four terms as D.C. mayor, announced he will be supporting Mayor Vincent Gray’s bid for another four years in the city’s top political job.
The endorsement comes despite the “Uncle Earl” scandal that cost Gray another big endorsement from the editors of the Current Newspapers. Barry, who represents a key black constituency residing east of the Anacostia River, also backed the mayor in the 2010 election.
Federal prosecutors allege that Gray knowingly participated in an illegal scheme to fund that campaign. The accusations stem from conspiracy charges against D.C. businessman Jeffrey E. Thompson, aka “Uncle Earl.”
“Vince Gray is the candidate we can trust to keep moving our city forward,” Barry said Wednesday afternoon. “I’ve known Vince for more than 30 years. His heart is in the right place.”
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.