Ward 5 Council member Kenyan McDuffie talks to D.C. voters. (Courtesy photo)
Ward 5 Council member Kenyan McDuffie talks to D.C. voters. (Courtesy photo)

D.C. Council member Kenyan McDuffie is out of the race for attorney general. His decision comes following a determined fight to overturn a decision by the D.C. Board of Elections declaring him ineligible to serve and concluding that his name may not be placed on the June 21, 2022, Democratic primary ballot as a candidate for that office. 

The challenge to McDuffie’s eligibility was brought by Bruce Spiva, a Democratic opponent and long-time lawyer who brings considerable legal experience and a “passion” to serve D.C. residents. He claimed McDuffie did not reach the statutory qualification that states: No person shall hold the position of Attorney General for the District of Columbia unless they have been actively engaged, for at least 5 of the ten years immediately preceding the assumption of the position of Attorney General, as an attorney in the practice of law in the  District of Columbia; a judge of a court in the District of Columbia; a professor of law in a law school in the District of  Columbia; or an attorney employed in the District of Columbia by the United States or the District of Columbia. 

Despite McDuffie’s efforts, a panel of three appellate judges upheld the Board of Elections ruling, followed by a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit not to rehear his appeal. 

The remaining candidates, including Brian Schwalb, Ryan Jones and Shiva, all bring credible qualifications and experiences that make this an exciting race that will result in a winner well-suited to succeed Karl Racine, who opted not to run for reelection. 

However, it’s a sad day for McDuffie’s supporters, including current and former members of the city council, who believe the D.C. Board of Elections got it wrong and that their intention was misinterpreted. They did not intend to exclude lawyers elected to serve on the council from qualifying to perform as Attorney General. 

McDuffie has not revealed his future plans, including whether he will run for reelection to his current Ward 5 seat as an independent in November. Without him in a position of public service – a role he aspired to and to which he is committed as a son of the District – residents have lost a strong advocate for equity and inclusion, especially for Black and brown small business owners, for affordable housing, for campaign finance reform and for closing the racial wealth gap. 

We stand with those disappointed by the results and are discouraged by the council’s refusal to act on its disagreement with the Board of Election’s decision. Still, we remain confident and inspired by McDuffie’s strong commitment to public service and look forward to seeing what is yet to come.

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