News & Politics

Council Member David Catania Forms Exploratory Committee for DC Mayor’s Race

Yet another DC Council member is jumping into the crowded field.

Catania. Via Facebook.

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.

Catania, who was first elected to the DC Council in a special election in 1997, does not fit the profile of the typical mayoral candidate. He was the Council’s first openly gay member when he won his at-large seat, and until 2004, he was a Republican. He has usuallly pulled in about 30 percent of the vote in previous elections, most recently in 2010.

Catania’s legislative portfolio has included oversight of the city’s health services and, since last year, public education. During his time running the Council’s Health Committee, he pushed to keep United Hospital Center, the only hospital east of the Anacostia River, open. As head of the Education Committee now, he is pushing seven bills targeting school improvements and student test scores.

But Catania also has a reputation for caustic relationships with the city’s other elected officials. Last year, he called Gray a “joke” who should resign over guilty pleas by former campaign aides involved in an alleged “shadow campaign.” He also once had a public spat with Council member Marion Barry over United Hospital Center, reportedly telling the mayor-for-life “F— you, Marion.”

Catania will need to collect 3,000 signatures to get on the ballot for the general election.

Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.