Politics

D.C. Politicians Mum on Presidential Race

With the Iowa caucus set to take place on Feb. 3 — thereby starting the Democratic presidential nomination process — District politicians haven’t publicly committed to any of the 12 candidates remaining.

Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) hasn’t endorsed a presidential candidate but has spoken highly of former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

“He is an important voice who just doesn’t talk the talk, he walks the walk,” Bowser said, according to public reports last year.

Bloomberg’s feelings about Bowser appear to be mutual. On Jan. 22 at the U.S. Conference of Mayors winter meeting in the District, Bloomberg said, “I hope that someday soon we’ll be calling her ‘Governor Bowser,'” referencing the city’s ongoing push for statehood.

Bowser has also complimented former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Peter Buttigieg. In her March 2019 State of the District address, Bowser said she looked forward to engaging “candidates like Mayor Pete.”

“I know I am biased as a fellow mayor, but I quite like the idea of having a president who understands the importance of not just talking about infrastructure, but actually investing in infrastructure,” she said.

While Bowser hasn’t announced her presidential choice, D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine (D) strongly supported Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) for the Democratic nomination. However, Racine has been quiet since Harris dropped out of the race in December.

An Informer email sent to a Racine spokesperson on Jan. 13 on the matter hadn’t been responded to by press time.

A spokesperson for Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) said he has been focusing on pressing issues in the District instead of the race.

“While the chairman has been paying attention to the Democratic primary season, he has not chosen a candidate to support,” the spokesperson said. “He has been focusing on navigating through and leading the council through a very difficult time, in regards to [then] Council member [Jack] Evans. Additionally, this time leading up to the budget season and oversight is very important.”

Council member Kenyan McDuffie (D-Ward 5) hasn’t committed to a candidate, either.

“As of right now, I do not have a preferred candidate to be the Democratic nominee,” McDuffie said. “I am, however, disappointed in the lack of diversity in the top tier of remaining candidates. I will continue evaluating the candidates to see who prioritizes issues impacting the residents of the District of Columbia, including access to a quality education, affordable housing and economic opportunities, as well as D.C. statehood.”

McDuffie’s concern about no racial minorities among the leading candidates for the nomination received support from Council member Robert White (D-At Large).

“I haven’t decided on a candidate but it is early in the process,” White said. “I am very concerned that no people of color are major players in the race. Because of that I don’t think our issues are going to be adequately addressed.”

Council member Anita Bonds (D-At Large) has a lot of experience dealing with presidential politics on the District level. Bonds served as the chairman of the D.C. Democratic State Committee from 2006-2018 during the time of the Obama presidency and the Hillary Clinton campaign of 2016.

When asked her candidate, she bluntly replied, “anybody but Donald Trump.”

“I will support any candidate, within reason,” Bonds said. “The candidate I support and the one D.C. voters should support, has to be strong on our issues.”

While these political leaders haven’t decided who they will support, Council member Brandon Todd (D-Ward 4) said he has.

“I have made up my mind who but I won’t announce it at this time,” Todd said with a smile.

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