D.C. mayoral hopeful James Q. Butler was conspicuously absent Wednesday in a candidate debate co-sponsored by Georgetown University and WTTG-TV (Channel 5) after the U.S. District Court dismissed his bid to participate.
Butler said he deserved to be on the debate stage at Georgetown with incumbent Muriel Bowser and D.C. Council members Robert White (D-At Large) and Trayon White (D-Ward 8) because he met the criteria to participate. He cited a Washington Informer-ran poll on Twitter as evidence that he registered at 3% or greater in an independent public poll between Feb. 1 and May 18.
The Informer poll had him at 41% out of 161 respondents. But Georgetown debate officials said the poll was insufficient since it wasn’t an “independent public poll,” WTOP reported.
Butler appealed to the U.S. District Court for D.C., but the court upheld the Georgetown ruling, saying his claims of exclusion lacked merit.
“Plaintiff’s complaint is facially deficient and must be dismissed because it fails to identify any cause of action against Georgetown,” the court’s decision read, WTOP reported. “The complaint’s single count only requests injunctive relief, which is not a stand-along claim.”
The court said Butler waited too long to take legal action to get into the debate, noting he filed his motion in court Tuesday despite receiving notification of his exclusion from the debate on May 10. Additionally, Butler failed to convince the court that he has been significantly harmed by missing the debate, WTOP reported.
Butler responded Wednesday in an online video that while he respected the court’s decision, his effort to make the debate stage is indicative of the type of mayor he’ll be if elected.
“That same type of fight that I fought and sued Georgetown with is the same type of fight that I will take to the [John A.] Wilson Building every day and fight for you,” Butler said in the video.
The debate aired live on television, the first time thus far that the candidates have squared off in that format.