Presumptive politicking can be a real turn-off. But in DC, it’s considered tradition and strategy. It’s assumed whoever wins the Democratic primary, wins the general election. In the upcoming mayoral race, that presumptive winner is Democratic Ward 4 Council Member Muriel Bowser. Her opponent is Independent Council-Member-at-Large David Catania (a former Republican) who, in terms of public service has some years and a policy track record over his challenger.
At first I thought it was a silly rumor that the key strategy for a Muriel Bowser victory was to intentionally avoid debates with her chief opponent (and other candidates as well including the Green Party for example). Bowser’s strategists are confident that D.C.’s long-held tradition and culture of “presumptive politics” and its Democratic stronghold (with a capital D) will prevail. But my rumor assumption was confirmed as fact in today’s Washington Post with a branding profile of David Catania (who should be using “DC for D.C.”as a campaign slogan – thanks for that E-bert).
Sitting Mayor Vincent Gray, whom Councilmember Bowser defeated in the Democratic primaries, has been avoiding eye contact with the victor for some months. But he declares his loyalty to the party in power:
“I refuse to . . . allow somebody who is not a Democrat to dictate what will happen in terms of Democratic values for our children.”
Democratic values as in party values? Or Democracy? Gray knows who butters the city’s bread. D.C.’s got your back. Let’s face it, the Democratic party has been more supportive for the city having a voice on the Hill, more so than the Republicans.
But is this presumptive party posturing? Is this Democracy (with a big D) in-action? Will the people have the candidates’ “say” on how I’m different from the other one? I know David Catania is not afraid of a fight, least of all a debate with a political opponent. Not so sure for Muriel Bowser based on these avoidance moves of the Democratic candidate’s camp. Is this a fight she can’t win? Do we want leadership that avoids a challenge or is afraid to fight even for herself?
If this was an old school yard, the word “Chicken” would’ve been blurted out by now.
During the primaries, I gave the Washington Post credit for their ability to influence local election outcomes. They took an 8 candidate primary race and reduced the
choices narrative to 2 – Bowser and Gray. The DC Democratic Party is bringing the choice down to one. More of a confirmation than a vote.
Two choices are better than one or none. And for those of us who do show up at the polls for every election, big or small, and you’re still undecided, this strategy leaves you feeling cheated. An “anti-presumption” vote could be the choice.
I’m a registered Democrat (disclosure). I’d like to hear the candidates in debate as part of the big D democratic process. The primaries are over, and the Washington Post will be making another endorsement. Blue is Green. Green is Blue. In a changing city, one should be careful to presume.
P.S. – Yes, candidates, I do get your emails.