Where are the snollygosters?
Snollygoster \snä-lē- gäs-tər\ : a politician who will go to any lengths to win public office, regardless of party affiliation or platform.
The indefatigable Ron Moten, co-founder of Peaceaholics and high-profile supporter of Adrian Fenty, is turning heads. His decision to run as a Republican against Ward Seven Councilmember Yvette Alexander is by far the most interesting development of the 2012 campaign season. Whether Moten can convince voters to cross party lines is an open question, but at least he is not afraid to engender criticism and shake things up.
Elsewhere, D.C. Councilmembers seeking reelection probably aren't losing much sleep.
Ward Two Councilmember Jack Evans found out yesterday that his lone opponent, Fiona Greig, threw in the towel. In her exit statement Greig said she "wasn't ready to mount the kind of campaign it would take to win."
Anyone seeking to dislodge an incumbent should expect a bruise or two. If you want to change things, if you are positioning yourself as the one to kick the bums out, expect the bums to kick back.
Politics is a tough business. Campaigning requires a thick skin and the ability to pick your posterior off the mat to face another round.
Reality check: look at what Barack Obama had to endure on the campaign trail.
In addition to Evans and Alexander, four other incumbent Councilmembers face reelection next year: Muriel Bowser (Ward 4), Marion Barry (Ward 8), and At-Large Councilmembers Michael Brown (I) and Vincent Orange (D).
None has yet to be tested by an opponent.
In what could be a marquee rematch, former interim appointed At-Large Councilmember Sekou Biddle is challenging the candidate who defeated him earlier this year, Vincent Orange. With less than five months until the Democratic Primary, Biddle is going to need to land some heavy blows on Orange. That could be difficult, though, because at his campaign announcement Biddle was the one taking the hits. Inexplicably, to manage his Democratic campaign Biddle hired an operative who formerly worked for the D.C. Republican Party, currently lives in West Virginia and was once detained for carrying a handgun into a District building.
Notwithstanding his puzzling personnel decision, Biddle deserves props. He is throwing himself back into the lion's den despite a bruising journey on the campaign trail that ended in a third place finish a mere half year ago. And who knows, maybe hiring a campaign manager who packs heat is a snollygoster move. I will certainly think twice before upbraiding Biddle.
In Ward 4, Muriel Bowser's biggest obstacle to reelection might be running against her almost-namesake, Renee Bowser (no relation). Perhaps one of the Bowsers should consult with At-Large Councilmember Phil Mendelson, who had to deal with a challenge from fake-Michael Brown in 2010.
Also running in Ward 4 is Max Skolnik, a progressive upstart. Skolnik recently testified at an ethics reform hearing chaired by Muriel Bowser. The setting was an ideal opportunity for Skolnik to slam his opponent on live television. Instead, he talked in general terms about campaign finance reform and limiting the influence of money in politics. Without a doubt, ethics is an important topic, but leave the technical stuff to the wonks. Candidates must go for the throat when given a chance.
In Ward 8, insurgent candidate Darrell Gaston is busy taking on Jacque Patterson, a possible candidate who has yet to formally enter the race. Gaston's tactic plays into the hands of the incumbent and diminishes his own credibility. I mean, really, if you cannot come up with ways to attack Marion Barry what kind of campaign are you running?
Independent At-Large candidate David Grosso is trying his luck versus the real Michael Brown. That is all I can tell you about Grosso, because he has yet to make news.
If you know any snollygosters send them my way. Moten needs the company and I need more interesting candidates to write about.
Note: There are candidates seeking office in 2012 who were not mentioned in this article. They are: Baruti Jahi, Calvin H. Gurley, Keith Jarrell, Judi Jones, Lydia I. Little (Ward 4); William “Rev. Bill” Bennett, Tom Brown, Kevin B. Chavous, Dorothy Douglas (Ward 7); Gary R. Feenster, Angela White Narain, Sandra “S.S.” Seegars (Ward 8).