Election Night Brings Few Surprises But At-Large Suspense

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A. Lightman/CCN

As Tuesday tipped into Wednesday, the incumbents ruled the ballot. Most of them cruised to victory.

With just over 165,000 votes counted It is clear DC Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) is a lock to win re-election for a third term, and incumbent DC Council Chair Phil Mendelson (D) for a fourth term.

Brian Schwalb officially won the race for Attorney General. In the DC Council races, incumbent Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen, running unopposed, received support from 95 percent of voters. DC Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton easily won re-election to the office she has held since 1991, and Shadow Representative Oye Owolewa (D) was also re-elected.

But 165,000 votes is shy of the 200,000 to 225,000 that are expected to be cast in the election. And those votes matter: there was still one race with three incumbents (sort-of) and only two seats remaining unsettled: At-Large Councilmember.

As the clocked ticked towards midnight election night, Democratic incumbent Anita Bonds looked like a shoe-in for one of the two at-large council seats, with 32 percent of the vote.

That means there’s still a game of musical chairs for the second seat: in the first wave of votes counted, reported at 8:22 p.m. Independents Kenyan McDuffie and Elissa Silverman were separated by only one percentage point.

But the music is bound to stop at some point, though it isn’t clear who will be seated quite yet. By the second vote count released just after 9 p.m., McDuffie’s lead was pushed to a bit more than 3 percent and he was seen high-fiving supporters at his election night party. At midnight, he led by 3.36 percent, or 8,917 votes.

At-large returns as of 11:47 p.m. Nov. 8. DCBOE.org

Graham McLaughlin held at third, at 10 percent, followed by Green Party Candidate David Schwartzman, who pulled in 5.17 percent.

It is also a close race to represent Ward 6 on the State Board of Education (SBOE) between Josh Wiley and Brandon Best. But as the night tipped into morning, it appeared Best had the edge by 5 and a half percentage points, or a few more than 1,000 votes; that race is one to watch longer.

Overwhelming Support for Initiative 82

Votes also weighed heavily in on whether tipped workers should earn minimum wage (Initiative 82). The measure would gradually increase base wage to tipped workers from the currently required $5.05/hour to meet minimum wage by the year 2027. That victory was called just before 10 p.m., with supporters celebrating at Hellbender Brewing sending up a tremendous cheer.

In a statement, the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington (RAMW) said they were disappointed with the results, saying that the measure did not have support from restaurant owners or tipped workers but reserving the greatest concern for the impact on the food service economy. “This measure will disrupt our city’s hundreds of small and independently owned restaurants and limit the earnign potential of tipped employees while also having regional reprecussions,” said Interim RAMW Executive Director Julie Sproesser.

Voters supported Initiative 82 resoundingly; in 2018, Initiative 77 had a 10 percent margin of support (55 percent to 45 against). That measure was repealed by DC Council by a 8 to 5 vote later the same year; reporting from Washington City Paper’s Alex Koma indicates Initiative 82 is unlikely to face the same fate.

Notable ANC Races 

After emerging victorious from a recall in October, ANC 6A04 Commissioner Amber Gove looks to have been re-elected to office in her newly configured SMD. Keya Chatterjee defeated a challenger in 6A01 and Roberta Shapiro appeared to be on track to represent 6A03. Robb Dooling was re-elected unopposed to represent 6A06; newcomers Mike Velasquez (6A02) and Stephen Moilanen (6A07) won by acclamation.

All of the ANC 6B Commissioners went unchallenged, although the bulk are newcomers to the role. Only three of the commissioners representing what is now ANC 6B sought re-election; Jerry Sroufe and Edward Ryder are running unopposed to represent ANC 6B02 and 6B08 respectively. Meanwhile, Chander Jayaraman, who stepped down last term to stage a run for the at-large council seat, is won unopposed in the new 6B06. New are Frank Avery (6B01), David Sobelsohn (6B03), Francis D’Angelo (6B04); Kasie Durkit (6B05); Vince Mareino (6B07) and long term ANC 6B committee member Matt LaFortune, now set to represent 6B09.

Change has also come to ANC 6C. Incumbents Mark Eckenwiler (6C04), Jay Adelstein (6C03) and Joel Kelty (6C05) were re-elected, but are now joined by newcomers Leslie Merkle (6C02), Patricia Eguino (6C06) and Tony T. Goodman (6C07). Former Transportation Committee Chair Christy Kwan will now represent 6C01.

In ANC 6D02, incumbent Ronald Collins appears to have won the challenge from newcomer Tom Seidman. He, Rhonda Hamilton (6D08) and Fredricka “Rikki” Kramer (6D07) return to the commission, as does former Chair Gail Fast, elected to represent 6D03 after a one-term absence. New are 6D01 rep Bob Link, Ashton Rohmer for 6D05 and Bruce Levine in 6D06. No candidate was listed for 6D04, but 70 voters wrote in a name.

Voters at Jefferson MS, a voting center in ANC 6D, Tuesday, Nov. 8. A. Lightman/CCN

Candidates are on the ballot for nearly all of the Hill East ANC 7D SMDs. Returning commissioner Brian Alcorn (former 6A08) steps up to represent constituents again in the new 7D08; Ashley Schapitl and Shane Seger are running to represent 7D09, Denise Krepp’s former ANC.

In ANC 7D, which represents the Hill east of 15th Street, Ebony Payne (7D05) and Marc Friend (7D06) were elected unopposed. In 7D09, Ashley Schapitl led the only challenged race against Shane Seger by a margin of 41 votes as of 11:34 p.m..

Brianne Eby is expected to emerge victorious as a write-in in 7D10, where incumbent Alison Horn withdrew late from the race after a last-minute move took her out of the ward.

Shirley Thompson-Wright led the three-way race in 7F07, ahead of Dev Myers by eight votes and chased by Beatrice Evans, 48 votes behind. While there is no representative on the ballot for the DC Jail in 7F08, 57 votes were cast for one or more write-in candidates; so it is possible that office will again have a representative after Joel Castón (7F07) was  first to take on the role since the SMD was created in 2013.

In the cross-ward ANC 8F, incumbent Commissioner Edward Daniels (6D07) appears to be a lock to represent the new 8F04 with 408 votes to challenger Jeseee Kamzol’s 163; unchallenged are Nic Wilson (8F01), Rick Murphree (8F02) and Brian Srege (8F03). 105 voters wrote-in a representative for 8F05, possibly Clayton Rosenberg, noted as a candidate on OpenANC.

Victorious write-in candidates still have to file an Affirmation of Write-in Candidacy on a form provided by the DCBOE not later than 4:45 p.m. on the seventh day immediately following the election if they want to make their win official.

Where They Voted

There was some confusion early on as the DCBOE website appeared to indicate all 144 precincts had been counted by about 9 p.m. However, DC switched to a citywide voting system –residents can vote at any polling station during the pandemic, making the precinct count meaningless. It was not clear why the number remained on the website.

Another voting change expanded during the pandemic also continues to be widely used. According to DCBOE, 109,431 DC residents voted at early voting centers, via ballot dropbox or mail-in ballot. That’s nearly half of the ballots cast. Those are current numbers as of Nov. 7, except Nov. 6 for early vote centers. The first count, released at 8:22 p.m. Tuesday, included 90,528 of the mail and special (dropbox) ballots.

Unofficial election night totals include ballots received by mail and at ballot boxes by Nov. 7 as well as the ballots cast at in-person voting centers across the District. Mail-in ballots postmarked by election day will continue to be counted until Nov. 15, and totals will be updated on dcboe.org.

These numbers were true as of midnight –but they will change as DCBOE counts ballots cast Nov. 8 and mail-in ballots. Results are not official until the District Board of Elections certifies them. They are expected to do that by Nov. 30. Follow changing election results at dcboe.org