City on a Hill: This is your future

November 18, 2009

2010 should be an exciting year in Washington news, with a mayoral campaign and potential Congressional interference in D.C.’s gay marriage legislation. Local politics can affect Georgetown students in countless ways, ranging from the University’s expansion plans to new bus routes. With that in mind, I asked some D.C. political reporters for their 2010 predictions and made a few of my own.

The mayoral campaign will be 2010’s biggest local politics story, as incumbent Mayor Adrian Fenty (D) tries for a second term. Fenty used to be a shoo-in for a second term, but lately he’s methodically antagonized vast numbers of constituents and councilmembers. Given the mayor’s apparent weakness, it’d be a shame if no one tried to challenge him.

City Paper politics columnist Mike DeBonis (COL `04), a former Voice editor, predicts a run by Council Chairman Vincent Gray—resulting in a tight race.

“[Gray] will lose by a surprisingly close margin,” DeBonis said. He added that Fenty will replace one of his eager hatchet men, like Attorney General Peter Nickles or City Manager Neil Albert, with a more conciliatory appointee. Nickles recently called Councilmember Mary Cheh “an angry woman” and sent her flowers as an apology, a pretty classy gift if you get all your lessons about dealing with women from Mad Men.

In the hopes that this column will be forgotten if I’m wrong—and seen as shockingly prescient if I’m right—I’ll go big and say Councilmember Kwame Brown (D-At-Large) will run for mayor and win.

He’ll be put over the top by his fresh face and a motley crew of teachers, good government advocates, and D.C. old guarders like Marion Barry (D-Ward 8), whom Fenty attacked this year.
Whoever is elected mayor next year, they’ll have to grapple with Congress, which has the ability to bring any local legislation to a Congressional vote. The top target for any representative in an election year will be D.C.’s gay marriage law, according to NBC4 reporter Tom Sherwood.

“I would be very surprised if someone in Congress doesn’t try to block that law,” Sherwood said. Personally, I think gay marriage will go quietly into D.C. code, and the Council will pick a new Congressional bugaboo to push: a referendum on medical marijuana.

Don’t expect the overbearing Congressional review process to end any time soon, though, because D.C. might not be getting a voting representative in Congress next year. Mark Plotkin, a political analyst at radio station WTOP, blamed that on Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), D.C.’s non-voting Congressional representative.

“She should have taken the gun amendments, as odious as they are,” he said, referring to amendments to the voting rights bill that would restrict the city government’s ability to regulate firearms in the District.

That’s a gloomy prediction for D.C., but the new year will doubtless bring good news as well. Whatever happens, residents can take comfort in this: D.C. politics is never boring.

Do something unpredicatable. E-mail Will at

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