D.C. held its presidential and city primaries on June 2 amid continuing protests in response to the killing of George Floyd by a police officer while in custody and the coronavirus pandemic. While final votes have not been announced, at least two new councilmembers will be elected to the City Council to represent Ward 2 and Ward 4.
In the crowded Democratic primary for Ward 2’s vacant council seat that received federal lawmakers’ attention, current District Assistant Attorney General for Policy and Legislative Affairs Brooke Pinto (LAW ‘17) ended the night leading a close race with 27.7 percent of the vote. Less than 100 votes separated her from Foggy Bottom ANC Commissioner Patrick Kennedy, who stood at 26.4 percent of votes cast. Former Obama staffer Jordan Grossman trailed them, with 20.1 percent of the vote. No other candidate broke out of the single digits, including disgraced former Ward 2 councilmember Jack Evans, who won less than 4 percent of the vote.
No winner in the Ward 2 race has been declared yet, and further results may not be known until at least June 12, the final date allowed for ballots postmarked by June 2 to arrive. According to a press release Wednesday morning, the Grossman campaign indicated that they believed 4,400 mail-in votes were yet to be counted based on the amount of mail-in ballots that were requested for the primary.
While the eventual winner of the Democratic primary will face Republican Katherine Venice in the November general election, a special election will also be held on June 16 to appoint a candidate to serve the remainder of the current term. Pinto, Kennedy, and Grossman are all running in the June 19 election.
The Ward 2 seat, which includes Georgetown, has been vacant since Evans resigned from the council in January following an unanimous vote of expulsion. Evans was accused of 11 Council ethics code violations, including taking $400,000 from unknown clients while on the Council.
In Ward 4’s Democratic primary, progressive attorney Janeese George took 54.2 percent of the vote and led the incumbent councilmember Brandon Todd (D-Ward 4) by over 1,500 votes. Declaring victory, George wrote over Twitter “We expect this lead will stay stable or grow slightly as the remaining data arrives.”
While Wards 7 and 8 also saw contested primaries, incumbents Vincent Gray (D-Ward 7) and Trayon White (D-Ward 8) each held on to their respective council seats.
In addition to local elections, District residents cast votes for Joe Biden and Donald Trump in the Democratic and Republican presidential primaries. With wins in every precinct and 77 percent of the total vote, Biden will be awarded all 20 of D.C.’s pledged delegates at the Democratic convention in August. Despite officially dropping out of the race, both Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) received support in the presidential primary as well, winning 11.9 percent and 9.9 percent of the vote respectively.
D.C.’s current Delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives, Eleanor Holmes Norton, ran unopposed in the Democratic primary and will advance to the November general election.
Despite District officials’ encouragement of voting by mail, voters faced long lines at the 20 polling locations across the city, with reports of some voters waiting until after midnight to cast ballots. According to a tweet from Councilmember Elissa Silverman (I-At Large) at a Ward 4 polling location, “there [were] more than 60 voters in line at 12:30 am during a pandemic supposedly under a curfew.”
District residents further faced confusion regarding the 7 p.m. city-imposed curfew. Although voters were exempted by the Mayor from the curfew, some residents reported police officers telling voters that they were in violation of the Mayor’s orders.
The election day difficulties, exacerbated by the fact that many of the nearly 90,000 voters who requested absentee ballots reported never having received a ballot, was heavily criticized by Mayor Muriel Bower on Wednesday. “D.C. residents spent hours at the polls yesterday, and that is nothing short of failed execution,” she said during a press conference.
This post has been updated to include the date of the special election.