D.C. Council member Kenyan McDuffie recently launched a bid for the 2022 Democratic nomination for District attorney general, forgoing a reelection bid for a third term on the Council to pursue the soon-to-be-vacant position.
McDuffie made the announcement on Oct. 21 at his home in the Stronghold neighborhood of Ward 5 in Northeast with his family and longtime friends in tow.
“My family, my neighbors, the residents of Ward 5 and many people across the District know my work ethic and commitment to our city,” he said. “Today, with our campaign for attorney general, we begin reaching out to those who do not yet know me. Today, I open a conversation with you. A conversation about justice, fairness, economic security and opportunity.”
McDuffie enters the race with only one opponent presently, local attorney Ryan Jones. He and Jones will compete in the June 21 primary. Both candidates seek to succeed Attorney General Karl A. Racine, who announced on Oct. 12 that he will not seek elected office in 2022.
McDuffie Praises Racine
McDuffie spoke highly of Racine’s work as the first independently-elected attorney general in the District. District voters elected Racine to the position in 2014 and re-elected him in 2018.
“Attorney General Racine has been a tireless advocate for us and a thorn in the side of those who violate our laws,” McDuffie said. “Karl built the office of the attorney general from the ground up. He constructed a solid foundation and we owe him our gratitude. Building on the foundation constructed by Karl and his talented team of attorneys and non-attorney professional staff will be a great honor and a tremendous responsibility.”
Racine hasn’t publicly endorsed a candidate for his position, so far.
A native of Ward 5, McDuffie graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School and holds a bachelor’s degree from Howard University and a juris doctorate from the University of Maryland School of Law. He has worked as a prosecutor in Prince George’s County, a trial attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division and as an adviser to the District’s Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice.
In 2012, McDuffie won a special election to serve out the remaining term of Ward 5 Council member Harry Thomas Jr. Thomas resigned earlier that year after federal prosecutors charged him with embezzlement and filing false tax returns.
McDuffie won his first four-year term in 2014 and won re-election in 2018. During his tenure on the Council, he chaired committees dealing with the judiciary and business and economic development. For the past few sessions, he has served as the Council’s chairman pro tempore in which he acts as the body’s presiding officer in the chairman’s absence.
The Ward 5 council member said if elected to be the city’s top lawyer, he will fight for the civil rights of residents and fair police practices throughout the city.
“I have witnessed injustice in this very neighborhood,” he said. “As a kid growing up in D.C., I saw my friends stripped of their rights and treated like criminals simply because they are Black. I saw our environment degraded. As I grew older, I saw qualified people passed over. The opportunities they worked for and earned got handed to others.”
“As your next attorney general, I will work relentlessly to protect you and ensure fairness and justice for all. I will stand up to the powerful interests and hold accountable anyone who takes advantage of vulnerable residents,” he said.
D.C. Leaders Weigh in on McDuffie’s Bid
Stacey Lincoln, who represents Ward 4’s advisory neighborhood commission single-member district 4A02, said while he has become impressed with McDuffie over the years on the D.C. Council, he needs to make the case for being the next attorney general.
“I am open to hearing what he has to say about being the attorney general,” Lincoln said. “I want to know what his specific platform will be. I want to know how he will impact the daily lives of Washingtonians.”
At-large D.C. State Board of Education member Jacque Patterson fully backs McDuffie.
“I have known Kenyan for a long time,” Patterson said. “He will do well running the AG’s office. He can definitely pick up where Racine left off. I would like for Kenyan to focus on quality-of-life issues that affect District residents such as crime. I would also like for him to set up an apparatus where his office will have a smooth transition when we become a state.”