Mayoral hopeful David Catania got some potentially horrible news on Monday when former DC Council member and fellow Republican-turned-independent Carol Schwartz announced she, too, will seek the District’s top job.
Schwartz, 70, who served on the Council as a Republican for 12 years in two stints ending in 2009, has run for mayor four times already, coming closest in 1994 when she lost by 14 percentage points to Marion Barry.
In her lengthy announcement, Schwartz, who shed her GOP ties last year, says she is running because she is “concerned” about the city’s growing economic inequality and a recent spate of ethical scandals for its elected officials.
“Any corruption is too much—and DC has gone beyond the pale,” she says.
Catania’s campaign already smells a rat, accusing Muriel Bowser's campaign of planting Schwartz. “They want her to be Sulaimon Schwartz,” says Catania’s campaign manager, Ben Young, referring to Sulaimon Brown, a fringe mayoral candidate in the 2010 Democratic primary who says he was paid by Vince Gray’s campaign to run, and act as an attack dog on then-mayor Adrian Fenty.
Schwartz has been tight with Bowser in the past, and she has a history of conflict with Catania stemming from 2008, when Catania supported Patrick Mara in the Republican primary for her at-large Council seat. After Mara won, Schwartz stayed in as a write-in candidate, and was backed by Bowser. Schwartz also held fundraisers for Bowser during the 2012 election cycle.
“Anyone who covers DC politics can see right through this,” Young says. “She’s been close personal friends since Bowser was first elected. They’re trying to reduce the mayoral election to a joke. This is not a joke.”
Bowser’s campaign manager, Bo Shuff, says he won’t comment on Young’s comparison between Schwartz and Brown. In a phone interview, Schwartz shoots down the accusations of coordination with the Bowser campaign.
"I'm running because I'm worried about our city," she says. "Those aren't anyone else's words but mine."
Chuck Thies, who managed Gray’s unsuccessful re-election campaign this year, doesn’t think Schwartz will be that big of a factor. “Schwartz has to make the ballot and spend the summer being somewhere other than Rehoboth,” he tells Washingtonian in an e-mail. “Just having a name on the ballot isn’t enough to garner significant votes.”
The question is how many votes Schwartz would have to garner to be significant, and spoil Catania’s bid.