What the District really needs is more guns for all of its residents, according to Representative Jim Jordan. The Ohio Republican introduced a bill this week that would repeal DC’s gun laws, which are among the strictest in the nation, but leave the gun laws of the states untouched.
Jordan pulled this stunt before in February 2011, shortly after the Republicans took over the House of Representatives. His bill, “To restore Second Amendment rights in the District of Columbia,” would remove just about every firearm restriction DC has on the books, from the types of weapons allowed to waiting periods to background checks.
A press release from the 2011 version of the bill stated that it “would repeal the DC semiautomatic gun ban, restore the right of self defense in the home, authorize D.C. residents to purchase firearms and ammunition, repeal overly-restrictive registration requirements and ensure that firearms may be transported and carried for legitimate purposes.”
Jordan’s bill was referred to the House Oversight Committee, which has jursidiction over the District’s internal affairs. If it’s anything like it’s predecessor, it will die a quiet, legislative death. Still, DC officials aren’t taking it lightly.
“The timing of this bill, as we remember the victims of the tragic Newtown shooting and their families, is especially insulting and out of line,” Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton said in a statement.
Mayor Vince Gray’s spokesman Pedro Ribeiro says Jordan is distracting himself from more pertinent issues. “Rep. Jordan’s time would be better spent working to solve the federal government’s budget impasse,” he writes in an email. “I very much doubt that the 38,100 unemployed Ohioans who will lose their unemployment benefits on December 28 if a deal is not passed are interested in the District’s local gun laws.”
Jordan's office did not respond to requests for comment.
But Jordan, who chairs the arch-conservative Republican Study Committee, could become a more familiar name to District residents in the future. His staff has been telling newspapers back in Ohio that he wants to take over the House Oversight Committee when current chairman Darrell Issa—who shows interest in the District beyond turning it into the OK Corral—steps down.
As the DC mayoral race lurches toward the April 1 primary, there’s only one statistic that matters: how much cash each candidate has on hand. Fundraising reports were due with the Office of Campaign Finance, covering the previous two months of the race.
Council member Muriel Bowser continues to hold a financial edge, but the reports also gives the first looks into the fundraising mettle of the race’s most recent entrants. Council member Vincent Orange, Busboys and Poets owner Andy Shallal, and Mayor Vince Gray have all jumped in since the last filing deadline, but in Gray's case, his fundraising is very preliminary.
Muriel Bowser: $211,323 raised; $756,019 on hand
Bowser spent only $68,013 over the past two months, continuing her campaign’s track record of hauling in donations while keeping expenses to a minimum. Aside from staff and office rent, Boswer’s campaign’s biggest expenditure was $6,600 to an outside firm for voter identification calls. Bowser continues to draw a lot of her financial support from the city’s business community, especially developers such as John Akridge ($1,000), Louis Donatelli ($2,000), and Roadside Development’s Richard Lake ($1,000).
Jack Evans: $251,363 raised; $582,496 on hand
Evans cleared $1 million, but he continues to be the biggest spender of any of the candidates, dropping $164,273 over the two-month reporting period, including $10,005 for his October 11 birthday party at The Park at 14th nightclub, $751.80 on Facebook advertising, and $500 in consultant fees to Cherita Whiting, daughter of late Godfather of Go-Go Chuck Brown. Like Bowser, Evans’s fundraising base is business-heavy, but also includes characters like Paul Wolfowitz, the Iraq War plotter who donated $100.
Mayor Vince Gray got a rough lesson Monday night when he faced down the people trying to get his job for the first time at a debate on education. The union that represents DC’s public school teachers really don’t like Gray anymore, and spent the better part of an hour slamming every explanation the mayor gave of his education policy.
It was probably not the best campaign debut for Gray, who spent the evening at Eastern High School defending his DC Public Schools chancellor, Kaya Henderson, who has displaced her predecessor Michelle Rhee as the Washington Teachers Union chief bogeyman.
Henderson, Gray said, “is somebody who is flexible to move in directions that need to be moved in.” Gray tried to say more, but he was cut off by a bell and jeered back to his seat. And that was just the first question of the night from a group of union leaders who served as moderators without ever trying to quiet the audience the way a teacher might shush a rowdy classroom.
Other candidates fared better by attacking Gray, as Council member Tommy Wells did when he criticized DCPS’ closure of nine elementary schools since Gray took office, or Busboys and Poets owner Andy Shallal did when bashing charter schools as a “consumer idea of education where you go shopping.”
But the best strategy to win the evening came from Christian Carter, a 30-year-old city personnel contractor waging a longshot bid, who lathered up the crowd by not only dissing Henderson, but questioning the need for her position altogether. “How many of us really need a chancellor?”
If anyone had it worse than Gray, it was Council member Jack Evans, who was drowned in boos and catcalls whenever he attempted to defend the mayoral control system adopted in 2007. Not even a pledge to review the system of performance assessments DCPS uses to evaluate its teachers quelled the audience. But the strongest jeers were reserved for Gray.
Gray won in 2010 in part due to an endorsement from the Washington Teachers Union, which embraced him after three years of the schools being run by Rhee. Education policy was so politicized that year, Rhee was even hitting campaign events for then-Mayor Adrian Fenty by the end of the race. Gray’s campaign manager Chuck Thies said he has no plans to put Henderson in that position in 2014.
If any DC elected official dithered about re-election more than Mayor Vince Gray, it was Council member Jim Graham. But Graham, who represents Ward 1 (which includes U Street, Adams Morgan, Columbia Heights, and Mount Pleasant) announced today that he plans to seek a fifth term.
Graham, who had set up an exploratory committee a few months back, said in an interview on NewsChannel 8 that he briefly considered not running because of his age. But the 68-year-old said he changed his mind because he still relishes performing constituent services.
Although he is the instant frontrunner in a race that already includes several candidates, Graham’s time on the Council has been marked by a spotty ethical record. In February, Graham was admonished by the District ethics board for a May 2008 conversation with a city contractor in which he allegedly used his position as a Metro board member by offering a DC Lottery contract in exchange for the contractor pulling out of a Metro construction project. Graham was not formally charged, but the ethics board report did earn him a reprimand from his colleagues and the loss of his oversight of the Alcoholic Beverage Regulatory Administration.
“I certainly wish I hadn’t said what I said, if I said it,” Graham said in the interview today. But his opponents, especially those seeking to run as a progressive break from an entrenched incumbent, were quick to strike at his record.
“The Councilmember’s decision to seek re-election reflects just how out of touch he has become about the importance of the public’s trust in our government,” said Bryan Weaver, who also ran against Graham in 2010.
Another Ward 1 candidate, Brianne Nadeau said in her own statement that four terms is long enough for a guy like Graham. “After 15 years, voters in Ward 1 are telling me they’re ready for a new energy and some real leadership on the Council.”
Graham’s announcement comes one day before the DC Office of Campaign Finance’s next deadline for fundraising reports.
Running for mayor seems to be all the rage for members of the DC Council these days. David Catania became the fifth person from the 13-member body to declare his intentions to run for mayor next year, announcing an exploratory committee today.
But unlike the dozen Democrats—including Mayor Vince Gray and four of Catania’s Council colleagues—currently scrambling to collect the 2,000 signatures to get on the ballot for the April 1 primary, the independent Catania gets to bide his time until next June, when petitions for the general election become available.
Catania’s exploratory committee was first reported by the Washington Post.
If Catania, 45, carries through his exploratory commmittee, he could throw a wrench in the mayoral election, which is usually decided by the Democratic Party primary. But with an incumbent mayor whose last campaign is still under federal investigation and as many as four sitting Council members clashing for the next four months, Catania could present himself as a viable option against a bruised Democratic nominee.
In his first press conference since announcing his bid for reelection yesterday, DC Mayor Vince Gray spent an hour showing off figures detailing the District’s economic development over the past three years, but when it came time to finally take questions, the investigation into Gray’s 2010 campaign was a far more popular topic than construction projects or foreign investment.
“I have said what I’m going to say about that,” Gray said to one of many queries about his first mayoral run, which has been scrutinized by federal prosecutors for more than two years over allegations that he was supported by a “shadow campaign” of $653,000 in unreported cash. “2010 is getting ready to be four years ago.”
Gray’s campaign announcement Monday prompted statements by his opponents, some of whom who have been running for months, focusing on the investigation of the 2010 race. “Now that Mayor Gray is seeking reelection, he will have to end his silence and answer the many legal questions about his 2010 campaign,” Council member Muriel Bowser said in a statement.
Council member Tommy Wells was even more pointed, saying in an interview that he was “disappointed” to see Gray enter the race. “The people of Washington really want to turn the page,” he said. “Are we going to accept status quo that corruption in politics is acceptable?”
Mayor Vince Gray immediately becomes the candidate to beat, after announcing Monday he’s taking out petitions to run for reelection.
True, today’s formal announcement at the O Street Market was largely taken up by questions about the ongoing federal investigation into his 2010 mayoral campaign. Four of Gray’s closest political aides have pleaded guilty to charges relating to the campaign, and US Attorney Ronald Machen has called it “corrupted” by concealed cash.
But Gray enters the race as an incumbent who has governed a city that has a healthy economy, a lowering unemployment rate, and a bureaucracy that functions well enough. He can use the perks and powers of his office to continue cutting ribbons on new playgrounds, as he did Monday on his home turf of Hillcrest in Ward 7.
No doubt there are voters who will not support Gray because they believe his election victory against Adrian Fenty was fraudulent. His approval rating hovers around 30 percent, a dismal number for an incumbent. But against a crowded field in the April 1 Democratic primary, 30 percent represents a decent base from which to run.
How best to run against Gray and nick his record in office?
Hammer him on ethics.
Council member Tommy Wells was first to go for Gray’s throat. “Mayor Gray let me and everyone in DC down when he ran a corrupt campaign in 2010 and brought a lack of ethics back into the mayor’s office,” he said in a statement. Wells has been running on his ethical purity for months; now he has a target.
Gray’s entry into the race also gives Ward 4 council member Muriel Bowser a chance to attack him in person. The two do not like one another. Her race has lacked passion, in the eyes of many voters, and her antipathy for Gray might give her a chance to let it out. Look for Bowser to cast the race as Gray’s “old guard” versus her vision for DC’s future with a younger, fresher administration.
With a federal investigation of his 2010 campaign still open, DC Mayor Vince Gray announced today that he is seeking a second term, finally ending months of speculation about his political future.
Gray, 71, stopped by the DC Board of Elections Monday afternoon to fill out paperwork and pick up ballot petitions. He has until January 2 to collect at least 2,000 certified signatures in order to make the April 1 Democratic primary.
Gray joins an already packed field that includes DC Council members Jack Evans, Muriel Bowser, Tommy Wells, and Vincent Orange; former State Department official Reta Jo Lewis; and restaurateur Andy Shallal. Evans, Bowser, Wells, and Lewis have been campaigning for most of the year, and every candidate to jump in before Gray has had a three-week head start on collecting signatures.
Meanwhile, Gray had been exceptionally cagey on whether he would pursue another four years in office, but took every chance to fuel the speculation by talking up his record over his first two-plus years in office.
The heavy push may be for holiday shopping on Black Friday, but a new addition to the frenzy, Small Business Saturday, is hoping to gain some ground this weekend. It was started by American Express in 2010 with the theme “shop small,” and for the past two years, President Barack Obama and his daughters, Sasha and Malia, used the occasion to visit area bookstores. We hope he shops small and local again this year, and Washingtonian staffers have some suggestions for where he should go (in no particular order).
The President could indulge his burger tooth with a Red Apron patty or a fantastic meatball sub, promote Chesapeake Bay health by tackling a platter of freshly shucked oysters at Rappahannock Oyster Company, snag fresh milk and veggies for Michelle and the girls from Trickling Springs and Eastern-Shore Organic, and pick up one of the American-made knives at DC Sharp for White House chef Sam Kass. And should he decide to jump into the ever-long food truck debate, those TaKorean “takos” are pretty delicious. 1309 Fifth St., NE.
This independent cooking and home-goods store is just a quick jaunt from the White House. There the President will ifnd foodie gadgets, classic cookware, and Washington-centric gifts like District-shaped cutting boards and cookie cutters in the form of DC and every state—except, alas, Hawaii. 713 D St., SE.
Both President Obama and Vice President Biden are well-documented sandwich lovers. If they stop by Jamie Stachowski’s Georgetown shop, they might become addicts. The four-meat grinder could take on most Chicago Italian subs, and Obama could also pick up local steaks and chicken for a family dinner. Another perk: Can you imagine the reaction from the colorful Stachowski? 1425 28th St., NW.
Sure, it might be a little impractical for the Secret Service to scope out a cramped basement-level record shop, but as Washington’s largest vinyl store, Crooked Beat, has yards of used and new albums spanning every genre. There are also racks devoted to Dischord Records, perfect for any parent of two kids growing up in DC. 2116 18th St., NW.
This 19-year-old homewares store is stocked up with clever holiday gifts, including ties with donkeys and elephants (for bipartisan Capitol Hill gift-giving) and Portuguese water dog cuff links—a nice gift from Bo and Sunny to the President. 1677 Wisconsin Ave., NW.
This store in Cleveland Park may be small, but it’s packed to the gills with jewelry, accessories, and unique items that can serve as stocking stuffers or Secret Santa gifts. The store has something for guys and gals of all ages, and thanks to the eclectic range and wit behind all the pieces, your gift will likely stand out from the pack. 3409 Connecticut Ave., NW.
The Obamas can revel in the retail and culinary explosion that is 14th Street by checking out the goods at Smucker Farms. With the wonderfully curated selection of food and sundries from just up the highway in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, you’d be hard-pressed to walk away without half a dozen items in your shopping bag as thoughtful gifts (and maybe another half dozen just for yourself). 2118 14th St., NW.
Dan and Anna Kahoe’s home furnishing shop has been operating on U Street since 1994, and the rotating selection of antiques, rehabbed vintage items, and decorative accents still deserves attention. The President could pick out a new leather chair, some vintage jewelry for the First Lady, or a standing wooden desk for one of the girls. 1428 U St., NW.
The White House could show its hipper side with a trip to this cocktail lover’s mecca in Alexandria. The small shop is filled with vintage glassware and shakers, retro serving trays, antique barware, ice buckets, and more, with items in every price range. It’s too bad the collection wasn’t around in the Nixon years. 1015 King St., Alexandria.
Husband-and-wife team Robert Ludlow and Ashley Hubbard are a small-business success story. The duo started selling their gourmet chocolates at local farmers markets, and now own two small boutiques—the original in Georgetown, and another in Alexandria. We love flavors like lavender-Shiraz, ginger, and almond amaretto, all artfully painted. Candy bars themed after regions of the United States, such as the bacon-studded South Bar, would make a fitting presidential purchase. 3235 P St., NW; 724 Jefferson St., Alexandria.
Got a suggestion for where President Obama should go? Let us know in the comments!
Paul Zukerberg says he isn’t going to obey a message from the DC government ordering him to shut down his attorney general campaign, which he has been waging despite a very good chance the position won’t be on next year’s ballot.
Zukerberg, a criminal defense lawyer by trade, received an email today from the city’s Office of Campaign Finance telling him to stop raising or spending any money in his pursuit of becoming the District’s first elected attorney general. But in an interview, he says there’s little chance of that happening.
“I’m not suspending anything,” Zukerberg says. “I’m not going to stop campaigning.”