Vincent Orange, Andy Shallal Make Mayoral Race More Interesting


Looks like the table is set in the race for the April 1 Democratic primary race for the nomination to run for Mayor of Washington, D.C.

Well, not exactly set. There’s still an empty chair being held, but the table got a little more crowded with the addition of two more entrants in the race, one a veteran of numerous political campaigns, the other an utter political novice, but a prominent and well respected Iraqi-born restaurant owner and supporter of D.C. arts and culture.

That novice would be Andy Shallal, the owner of a string of unique and flourishing restaurants catering to both foodies and poets and members of the newly minted millennial class, who made it buoyantly official with a Nov. 12 announcement at Ben’s Chili Bowl, the cool U Street establishment just off the bustling 14th Street corridor.

Shallal , with boxing promoter and radio personality Rock Newman at his side as his campaign manager, said he wants the city to “be great for everyone, not just for some.” A long time supporter of the arts, he also expressed an interest in bring culture and arts more into the forefront of city life.

The other new but not so new entrant into the race was At-Large Councilmember Vincent Orange for whom it seems sometimes there exists a standing headline among political observers and journalists and bloggers that reads: “Vincent Orange to run for ——-.” A two-time Ward 5 councilman, Orange has already run once for mayor and finished fourth in the race won by Adrian Fenty. He also ran—unsuccessfully—for city council chairman against Kwame Brown, but managed to win two elections for an at-large council seat, most recently last year.

Orange and Shallal join an already crowded field that includes Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans, Ward 4 Councilmember Muriel Bowser and Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells, all of them longtime, to various degrees, council members and well known throughout the city as is Orange. Also running is former State Department official Reta Jo Lewis, and four other Democrat entrants. These lesser known candidates are Octavia Wells, Frank Sewell, Michael Green and Christian Carter.

All of the announced candidates have picked up the necessary petition form.

The empty chair at the table is Mayor Vincent Gray, who has not picked up a petition form but has until Jan. 2 to pick up 2,000 signature of registered Democratic voters to quality to run for the election.

Gray—whose 2010 campaign is still under federal investigation—has given no indications as to whether or not he will run for re-election. His tenure as mayor—as opposed to his first campaign—has lots of silver linings and has accumulated a record the mayor probably can run on.

The race remains one of those campaigns which seems locked in time and space, minus one of its most critical members. Until Gray’s status changes one way or another, it will remain in limbo at least until Jan. 2 when we may know sometime more. Maybe.

It’s been a maybe kind of race. Even the pundits aren’t making any predictions. So, we won’t either. One thing is certain, however: in this overwhelming Democratic city, whoever wins the Democratic primary on April 1 — yes, that is April Fools Day — will easily win the Nov. 4 general election, thus becoming the next Mayor of Washington, D.C.

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