Christina Henderson worked several years for D.C. Council member David Grosso (I-At Large) as his deputy chief of staff, helping to manage his committee and learning about numerous issues affecting the District and the inner workings of the D.C. Council.
When Grosso decided not to run for re-election this year, he talked to Henderson about running for his spot, with his support. Henderson thought about it and said yes.
With Grosso’s support and a strong, grassroots campaign, it appears, from preliminary numbers from the D.C. Board of Elections on early morning Nov. 4, that Henderson may be poised to replace her former boss on the District’s legislative body.
The election board reported Henderson in second place, with 14.81 percent in a field with 22 other candidates for the two at-large positions. D.C. Councilmember Robert White, a Democrat, led the field with 25.03 percent, a beneficiary of a huge party voter registration advantage of 76.76 percent of all registered voters in the city.
Results as of Nov. 2 by the elections board showed 282,722 ballots tallied with 63, 646 from the mail, 138,117 in drop boxes and 80,959 in the District’s 32 early voting centers. This contrasts with the 311,268 votes cast for the 2016 general election. Final numbers of drop-box ballots could not be confirmed as of 12 a.m. on Nov. 4 and mail-in ballots are due by Nov. 13 to be tabulated for the general election.
White and Henderson appear to outdistance former D.C. Council member Vincent Orange (12.66 percent), Ed Lazere, the founder and ex-executive director of the DC Fiscal Policy Institute (11.24 percent) and real estate professional and political activist Marcus Goodwin (11.93 percent). All other candidates had single-digit numbers.
Henderson said expressed cautious optimism about her numbers.
“I feel really good about the race we ran,” she said. “We will have to see what happens and we are hopeful for the best.”
Henderson said the key to her success had to do with targeting her voters and making sure they went to the polls. She said her message to voters that they had two choices for the at-large seats seems to resonated.
“I said to people that they had two choices,” Henderson said. “Many of my targeted people were Democrats so I said if you vote for the Democrat make me your next choice.”
Candidates such as Markus Batchelor, Ward 8’s D.C. State Board of Education representative, had 3.47 percent of the vote but still had strong supporters. Tyrone Jones, a Ward 8 resident who lives in Congress Heights, backed Batchelor. A 17-year resident of the ward, Jones expressed pride in Batchelor’s effort.
“We need young, fresh ideas in this city,” he said. “I liked the fact that Markus is unbought and unbossed and did take corporate money in the race. I have watched him blossom as a politician and he has a bright future in D.C. politics, I think. It is time for the old guard to step down and let the young people have their time.”
The early Nov. 4 results showed D.C. Council members Brooke Pinto (D-Ward 2) and Trayon White (D-Ward 8) easily cruising to victory while D.C. Council member Vincent Gray (D-Ward 7) had no opposition. Janesse Lewis George, a former assistant attorney general and a Democrat, handily defeated D.C. Statehood Green candidate Perry Redd, 91.59 percent to 5.94 percent, to become the Ward 4 council member.
“I feel bless the residents of Ward 4 have given me the opportunity to represent them,” George said. “I feel a great sense of responsibility. I look forward to making changes that will benefit everyone.”
On the federal level, the Democratic ticket of former vice president Joe Biden and U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris took 92.5 percent of the District’s vote with President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence trailing far behind with four percent. D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton easily dispatched four opponents to win a 15th term in the House of Representatives. D.C. Shadow Senator Paul Strauss won his race overwhelmingly and the new D.C. Shadow Representative will be Oye Owolewa.
Initiative 81, the measure that would make the possession and consumption of magic mushrooms and psychedelic plants a lower police priority, passed with 76.23 percent of the vote.
Alexis Smith, a Ward 8 resident who voted at the Entertainment and Sports Arena in the ward’s Congress Heights neighborhood, said the voting process went well for her.
“I live in Anacostia but decided to come here to vote,” Smith said. “The voting process was smooth, efficient and went quickly. I could see that the elections team here was organized. It was a good experience.”
Claudia Barragan, one of the 22 independent candidates for the at-large seat, received 1.11 percent of the vote but nonetheless she learned a lot as a candidate.
“I think it was a good experience running with many people who are concerned about our city,” Barragan said. “I self-financed my campaign and there should be better campaign finance laws that benefit regular people and not waste taxpayers’ dollars. I have not ruled out running again in the future.”