“Tonight we fell short of our campaign goal.” Words that the attendees at Anthony Brown’s election-night party did not expect to hear when the Maryland lieutenant governor's bid for a promotion came up short.
The night started with cheers and optimism, but as it progressed the atmosphere at the party grew quieter. Appearances from various state Democratic leaders like Ben Cardin and Dutch Ruppersberger tried to keep spirits hopeful.
Party-goers fed off of Brown's lead in the early-vote count. However, the screen that kept the audience updated was constantly behind and supporters were misinformed about result numbers for much of the night. Once Republican Larry Hogan took the lead, the party really started dying. The music stopped, but there was no chatter to fill the air. Not that any of Brown's supporters were available for comment. Brown's campaign kept reporters corralled and wouldn't allow them to speak with the crowd.
The room at the University of Maryland's Alumni Center thinned out as more precincts rolled in. Many were gone by 11:30 PM. Faces grew somber only to be broken by the occasional cheer for rare Democratic successes elsewhere throughout the night.
Once midnight struck, the stage began to fill with Brown’s team. Everyone knew that it was over. He conceded and the hopes of those in the room were extinguished.
In the end, a city where Democrats hold a three-to-one voter registration advantage chose the Democratic nominee for mayor, with Muriel Bowser being elected the next mayor of DC by a generous margin. Bowser, 42, won with 54 percent of more nearly 149,000 votes cast, well ahead of independent David Catania, who mounted what many considered the strongest non-Democratic campaigns in recent memory.
"I'm humbled and grateful to stand here to be the next mayor of my hometown," Bowser said, taking the stage after a 19-month campaign during which she frequently cited her family's deep roots in the nation's capital. "Hard-fought elections force us to dig deep. They make us be accountable to you."
Bowser was elected to the DC Council in 2007 to take over the Ward 4 after her mentor, Adrian Fenty, was elected mayor. Seven years later, Fenty was nowhere in sight at the Howard Theatre, but the trademark green signs and apparel Fenty introduced in his campaigns filled the dance floor. A deejay's soundtrack flipped from Top 40 hits to go-go classics like Chuck Brown's "Bustin' Loose" when it became apparent Bowser would soon be declared the winner.
Catania's concession speech played on a video screen above the stage, although it was muted about halfway through when the deejay cued up Matthew McConaughey's chant from the opening scenes of the 2013 film The Wolf of Wall Street.
"My last request to you is to take that spirit of not giving up and use it to support our new mayor," Catania said, according to DCist. Bowser's own acknowledgment of Catania elicited chants of the 1969 Steam classic "Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Good Bye" from the Howard Theatre crowd.
The election brings an end to Catania's run as one of the Council's four at-large members. He was elected in 1998 as a Republican, but abandoned the GOP in 2004. In running for mayor, he sought to become DC's first white, openly gay, and non-Democratic executive.
Former Council member Carol Schwartz, another Republican-turned-independent who entered the race in June, finished with about seven percent of the vote.
Bowser clinched the Democratic nomination April 1 when she knocked off incumbent Mayor Vince Gray in a sparsely attended primary. Padded by 25,000 early votes, general election turnout was surprisingly high for a non-presidential year, with factors like unseasonably warm weather and a successful ballot initiative to legalize marijuana encouraging people to come to the polls.
"We believe in a level playing field for women, for African-Americans, for Latinos," Bowser said in a ten-minute victory speech. "The outcome of this election is an affirmation that the status quo is not good enough for DC. We are Washington, DC and we expect more."
Find Benjamin Freed on Twitter at @brfreed.
District voters have approved a ballot initiative legalizing possession and home cultivation of marijuana by a wide margin. With 80 percent of precincts reporting, Initiative 71, as it is officially known, is supported by 68 percent of voters.
The initiative, which comes just months after the District ended criminal penalities for small-time possession, permits adults to hold up to two ounces of pot and grow up to six plants at home. It does not establish any kind of regulated and taxed retail market, although the DC Council plans to create a framework similar to those established earlier this year in Colorado and Washington state.
Of course, the initiative's fate ultimately rests on Congress's authority to review all DC legislation, but Adam Eidinger, the pro-legalization campaign's leader, is optimistic federal lawmakers will not intervene.
Supporters of the initiative are partying tonight at Meridian Pint in Columbia Heights. But remember, if you want to celebrate with buds instead of beer, don't do it in public.
The DC Board of Elections is notoriously slow when it comes to counting ballots, but all it takes are the results from the 25,750 early votes cast over the past two weeks to light up the DC Cannabis Campaign's party as they wait to find out the fate of their Initiative 71, the ballot question that, if approved by voters, will legalize marijuana possession and cultivation for adults 21 and older.
With 64 percent of early votes supporting legalization, the basement of Columbia Heights bar Meridian Pint is clogged with drug reform activists clinking beers and dancing to a live deejay. Supporters expect the gap to tighten—an anti-legalization campaign never really caught on—but everyone in the room expects the District will soon join Colorado and Washington state in ending pot prohibition.
"I have been healthy all year, today I caught a cold," says Adam Eidinger, the leader of the Initiative 71 push.
Any ballot initiative passed by the District's voters is still subject to the same congressional review as any other bit of DC law, which could hit a snag if Republicans take control of the US Senate. But even if the Senate, which earlier this year blocked a Republican-passed attempt to gut DC's new decriminalization law, flips parties, Eidinger thinks he won an ally today in Kentucky Republican Rand Paul. Paul, speaking to BuzzFeed while he voted today, said he doesn't think Congress should stop the District from legalizing marijuana or passing any other law.
"I want to thank Rand Paul for respecting local laws, whether it be here in DC or in Kentucky," says Eidinger. "I don't think any party has the stomach to overturn any election."
But weed won't become legal overnight. Though it's quite plausible someone at Meridian Pint is holding, Eidinger doesn't want to see it at the bar.
"We told everyone if you're going to celebrate with cannabis, do it at home," he says.
Eidinger includes himself in that edict: "When I get home, I'm going to smoke a joint."
Find Benjamin Freed on Twitter at @brfreed.
When Rick Hayes, sexton at Metropolitan AME Episcopal Church, arrived to open the doors at 5:30 AM, there already was a line of DC residents waiting to vote in Precinct 17. For the next two hours, they cued up along L Street toward 15th Street, Northwest.
“There’s been a steady stream of folks coming out to vote all day long,” said church administrator Tony Hawkins.
By 3:30 on a sunny afternoon, more than 1,000 people had cast ballots, according to the precinct captain. The downtown precinct between 15th and 16th streets, around the corner from the Washington Post, draws residents from Dupont Circle and the apartment buildings along Massachusetts Avenue.
Kate Freund, 33, came with Cecily, her three-month-old daughter, snoozing on her chest. She and her friend, also with an infant, had just come from a baby music class. Freund said residents with young children will make their political presence known in the District.
“More and more people are staying in the city and getting involved in local politics,” she said.
With the sun setting and people way home from work, Allen Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church on Alabama Avenue, Southeast, was picking up as voters shuffled in to pick the District's next mayor.
“They have been coming in big bursts,” said precinct captain Phillip HInes-Bey, who counted more than 400 ballots. “It’s been a great turnout.”
Ward 8 wasn't very friendly to Council member Muriel Bowser during the Democratic primary, but in the most competitive general election in memory on the line, she's become a bit more popular there.
"A lot of people are mentioning Muriel Bowser," said Paul Trantham, a volunteer at the church and a candidate for an advisory neighborhood commission seat. "Nobody knows who's winning. We are optimistic."
Bowser supporters, posted on the sidewalk since dawn, prediceted an easy win for their candidate, and said that Council member David Catania never made much of an impression in the city's least affluent pockets.
"I didn't really see him get out and interact," said Chanel Fogel, "going all around the District."
But not every Democrat greeting voters outside Allen AME is gung-ho about the green team. Khadijah Watson guessed, between passing out fliers for her own ANC campaign, that the mayoral race will be a squeaker. Bowser might have knocked off Mayor Vince Gray in the primary thanks to the ethical turpitude of 2010, but her win was hardly a mandate.
"They was not sure about voting for the mayor, and some weren't positive on Bowser," Watson, 67, said. "It's not a shoe-in. Catania has been around for a long time. It's going to be real close."
Though Watson rebutted Fogel's suggestion that Catania hadn't attempted to connect with voters east of the Anacostia River, citing his 17-year tenure on the Council, Catania's record only travels so far. "Catania may have more experience, but Muriel Bowser will have strong people working around her," Watson said.
General-election turnout may not reach the 40 percent predicted by the DC Board of Elections, but people who are turning out are doing it for the top of the ticket. Across the city Tuesday, supporters of various candidates to be DC's first elected attorney general were met largely with silence or confused looks when they urged voters for support. Field workers for Edward "Smitty" Smith at both Allen AME and Foundry United Methodist Church on 16th Street, Northwest, went practically ignored when they offered literature about the 34-year-old former Obama administration official. A Lorie Masters supporter's luck was no better during the lunch rush at a Dupont Circle precinct. A late start to the race—Masters was only added to the ballot in June—and a field of five lawyers struggling to familiarize themselves with the city made the race for one of the most powerful jobs in local government a snoozer through the end.
Even with Watson's pause about Bowser's built-in edge in Ward 8, there's little chance the Democratic nominee doesn't coast to a huge margin in the city's most heavily Democratic, predominantly African-American quadrant.
"As a rule, Ward 8 always votes Democrat, even if they have to hold their nose," said Watson's husband, Leonard.
Back in Ward 2, Precinct 15 at Foundry United was buzzing by 6 PM, with the sidewalks clogged with supporters of mayoral, attorney general, and DC Council candidates, not to mention Initiative 71, which would legalize marijuana possession for adults 21 and older. Many voters were younger, perhaps not longtime DC residents, and living in recently posh enclaves like Logan Circle and the iconic stretch of 16th Street between U Street and downtown.
While veterans of DC politics—like Susan Meehan, who's worked Precinct 15 in every election since the start of home rule in 1974—passed out leaflets for council member and local Democratic heavy Anita Bonds, newer voters were far less committed to party affiliation. One young woman, who only gave her first name, Trish, exited Foundry United talking about why she voted for Catania despite her Democratic Party registration.
"I did my homework," she said. "There was not a lot of inner conflict."
Washington is rife with opportunities to see art—in museums, standing in parks, and painted on walls all around DC—and even in a city this busy, it's worth remembering to stop and appreciate it once in a while. To that end, we'd like to see the pieces and places you return to again and again. If you don't have any current favorite artworks, find some new ones at these museum exhibits and gallery shows this month.
Submit your photos by e-mailing email@example.com or by tagging #WashMagPhoto on Instagram or Twitter. Please include where the photo was taken and your name with each submission. We’ll highlight our favorite photos on Monday, November 10.
See our favorites below:
Election Day is finally here. Just think: in a few more hours, the airwaves will be free of campaign ads, yard signs will be coming down, and we'll have a better idea of the people who will make up the 114th Congress. Locally, there are a handful of close races that could adjust Washington area's trajectory, from DC's mayoral and attorney general elections, Maryland's gubernatorial contest, and the fight for Virginia's 10th District. Oh, and DC might legalize marijuana possession.
Polls are open until 8 PM in the District and Maryland, and until 7 PM in Virginia. If you're still unsure of where to vote, enter your address in this tool from Google and the Voting Information Project.
In DC, Democratic mayoral nominee Muriel Bowser has maintained a comfortable lead over her closest rival, independent David Catania. But after Bowser's win in a primary with abysmally low turnout, Catania has managed to give the city its most competitive general election in years. Will an electorate in which Democrats hold a three-to-one registration advantage remain in character, or are we due for a surprise?
Meanwhile, the District will choose its first-ever elected attorney general, a position candidate Paul Zukerberg fought to keep on the ballot, but one voters appear to have struggled to learn about as the race dragged on. Karl Racine, the managing partner at the law firm Venable, has jumped out in that five-candidate race, largely on the support of a Washington Post endorsement and $450,000 he lent his own campaign.
And if DC voters approve Initiative 71 today, the nation's capital will join Colorado and Washington state in legalizing marijuana. Here's what that would mean.
In Maryland, Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown seeks to succeed outgoing Governor (and future presidential candidate) Martin O'Malley as the Democrats' standard-bearer. But the Republican nominee, Larry Hogan, an Annapolis-area businessman, has made it a tight race, buoyed largely by Brown's oversight of Maryland's bungled healthcare exchange.
Meanwhile, Virginia's most exciting race is in the 10th congressional district, where longtime Representative Frank Wolf is retiring, setting the table for a scorched-earth contest between Republican Barbara Comstock and Democrat John Foust, with nearly $5 million from outside groups flooding the air. Comstock is slightly favored to win the seat, which covers Loudoun, Fairfax, and Prince William counties, but with Northern Virginia becoming more dense and urban every year, the race reflects the commonwealth's turn from a reliable red state into something much more purple, something that will surely be noted by a certain former Secretary of State and pal of the current governor.
Virginia's Senate race, in which Mark Warner is up for re-election, is far less exciting. With Warner in a comfortable lead, his Republican opponent, Ed Gillespie, has resorted to hinging his campaign on how his support for the Washington NFL team's name is more overt than Warner's.
A Baltimore woman made news this weekend after she took a $326 Uber ride home Friday night and turned to GoFund.me to help pay for the cost. That story got us wondering how much DC's Uber users are willing to pay for a ride. Answer our poll below and let us know whether your ride was worth it in the comments.
Every year, Children's National Medical Center brings a bit of Halloween spirit to its young patients who aren't able to leave the hospital to trick-or-treat with the rest of their peers. Hospital staff, visitors, and patients alike participated in this year's celebration, which included pumpkin painting and carving, dances and skits, a costume contest, and even a parade through some of the hospital's units. Children's National also asked for donations of Halloween masks this year and received more than 1,300, ensuring all the kids were dressed for the occasion.
Moving trucks are scheduled to show up at the Georgetown home of Rabbi Barry Freundel Monday, according to signs posted in front of his home on O Street, not far from the Kesher Israel synagogue that provided the house for its longtime religious leader.
Freundel was arrested October 14 and charged with six counts of voyeurism for allegedly hiding video cameras in the synagogue's mikvah, a ritual bath, to record women as they undressed and showered before entering. Police officers were seen carting computers and hard drives out of Freundel's house on the day of the arrest.
Freundel, 62, pleaded not guilty and was released on his own recognizance, while police and prosecutors investigate videos and forensic evidence. He is scheduled to appear before a status hearing on November 12. The US Attorney’s office has set up a website for potential victims.
Signs posted on the street listed Freundel’s wife, Sharon, for contact information. Calls to her were not returned. The O Street home, which is owned by a trust with ties to Kesher Israel, has been the Freundels' home for at least 16 years. Fruendel has been rabbi at Kesher Israel, a modern orthodox synagogue, since 1989. The congregation includes such luminaries as former Senator Joe Lieberman and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew.
In addition to being Kesher Israel’s spiritual leader, Freundel has also been a visiting professor at several colleges around Washington and an administrative leader in the greater Orthodox community. He held teaching positions at the University of Maryland, Georgetown Law School, and Towson University. He was suspended from Kesher Israel and the universities following his arrest.
Students in Freundel’s classes at Towson University told investigators he encouraged them to use the National Capital Mikvah, opened next door to Kesher Israel in 2005.
The Rabbinical Council of America, the country’s primary group for Orthodox rabbis, reported that it had received complaints in 2012 from women about Freundel forcing them to do clerical work, but none led to any disciplinary action. The organization has also suspended Freundel from its ranks since his arrest.
Meanwhile, investigators have found enough evidence to charge Freundel with six counts of spying on women, but they are checking video cameras and computers they seized from his home and his office at Towson University for more evidence.
There is no indication where Fruendel and his family are headed.
Find Harry Jaffe on Twitter at @harryjaffe.