Exclusive Video: Council Chair Candidate Orange Goes After the Green at a Georgetown Fundraiser
About 20 people from across D.C. ventured down to the Georgetown waterfront to attend the Vincent Orange for Council Chair fundraiser at Mate, a Latin fusion restaurant at 31st and K Street. But most attendees weren’t there to write checks; they were part of the Orange campaign.
Last week, one of Orange’s top fundraisers, George Lowe, quit due to “the negative tenor of his campaign,” Lowe told the Washington Post. Orange tells the Dish that Lowe’s leaving was to take care of “personal issues,” he adds, “We wish him well. He is still part of the family, and we’re full-speed ahead.”
So far, the “Orange Crush” raised $190,000, Orange says. His chief competitor, At-Large Councilmember Kwame Brown, brought in about $200,000. Brown told The Georgetown Dish that Orange’s fundraising success comes out of his own pocket. “I didn't loan myself any money, so when you subtract the loan he gave himself, the picture is very different.” Orange sees this differently saying that his personal contribution shows he is “committed to the cause.”
Brown may criticize Orange for his self-loan, but thanks to personal finance issues, it doesn’t look like Brown has that option. Brown admitted to maxing out three credit cards. He is towing over $700,000 in debt, partly from the purchase of a pricy boat.
Ira Sockowitz, owner of a D.C. political consulting firm, contributed to the Orange campaign. Sockowitz says that Orange’s “complete understanding of economic development” is one of his strongest assets.
With the primary election only a month and a half away, Orange says he is getting more “surgical” in his efforts to reach voters. His time will be spent meeting-and-greeting as many voters as possible. Orange’s political strategist Dr. Page says if they can “get people to meet him, then we’ll win.”
Getting recognition is an uphill battle for Orange, who is the underdog in terms of endorsements. All but one councilmember endorsed Brown, but Orange isn’t about to throw in the towel. One of his campaigners was hustling to make sure everything was ready before the 6:30 p.m. start time. The Mate fundraiser was the “primary focus” of the evening, she said, but Orange squeezed in two additional stops before pulling up in his
white Escalade Cadillac SRX.
Orange talked with the Dish about hot topics in D.C. politics, namely finance and education. In regards to Michelle Rhee firing 241 teachers, he thinks the focus should be on why they are fired, which is sub-par performance. Ensuring that every teacher is up to standard means that every child will have a “strong educational foundation.”
Events like this one net Orange about $2000 to $4000 on average according to his staff. They expected 40 to 50 people to come to Mate. Even though the crowd was smaller than they hoped, Orange was all smiles. He spent 45 minutes giving out pats on the back and handshakes without even pausing to enjoy the plates of Latin-inspired sushi or leafy mojitos. Then he scooted off to his next stop on the campaign trail with a wave and the parting words, "Vote Orange!"