D.C. Special Election Round-Up: Race-Baiting, Apologies and Discrimination

The special election to fill an At-Large seat on the D.C. City Council will be held Tuesday, and a demographic shift could result: depending on the results, the council may be majority white, majority black or have its first Hispanic member. And since no D.C. election is complete without race and class issues coming to the fore, here is a quick recap:

–The latest back-and-forth originated after Sunday when Democrat Vincent Orange was out in Ward 8, handing out fliers developed by a group of residents that included this statement: “He walks like us. He talks like us…” The incident led to some pondering over what it means to walk and talk like Orange, and also denouncements over such a tactic.

DC is making some progress. Race cards not drawn until final weekend of the election. Very sad to see that happen at all.
Dave Stroup

– Democrat Sekou Biddle’s camp has no shortage of apologies. Last time, it was Biddle himself who dismissed Marshall Brown from his campaign over “hurtful” comments aimed at whites. Then on Sunday, Biddle adviser Dennis Jaffe took to Twitter to call Bryan Weaver’s campaign “white-centric.” Jaffe was quick to apologize and retract the statement. In both instances, campaigners weren’t speaking on behalf of Biddle.

– Some residents in Ward 5 are calling for people to take to the polls and vote for Orange, calling this election “the last time that folks of color will be able to determine our own ‘DC’ destiny…” And in case you forgot how many people of color live in D.C., here’s a quick reminder.

Washington Examiner columnist Henry Harry Jaffe’s endorsement of Republican candidate Patrick Mara, in which he referred to Orange as “a captain in the old guard. He looks and sounds like a snake oil salesman” caused pause for some Orange supporters:

I don't cry "racism" easily but 2 say man w/4 degrees, former 2-term CM "looks like a snake oil salesman" sounds like devisive code#four26dc
Andrea Pringle

– Oh, and then there’s the actual day of the election, which falls on Passover and effectively prevents observant Jews from voting. A lawsuit against the city’s election board called their denial in extending voting hours to 10 p.m. discriminatory. Early voting did occur on Easter Sunday, allowing some Jewish residents to still cast ballots.