Washington, D.C. Attorney General election, 2014

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Washington, D.C. Attorney General election, 2014
Washington, D.C.
November 4, 2014 2018 →
  DC Attorney General Karl Racine official photo.jpg Edward "Smitty" Smith in Ward 5, Washington, D.C.jpg Lorie Masters.png
Candidate Karl Racine Edward "Smitty" Smith Lorie Masters
Party Democratic Democratic Democratic
Popular vote 63,774 34,039 24,427
Percentage 35.96% 19.19% 13.77%

  No image.svg No image.svg
Candidate Paul Zukerberg Lateefah Williams
Party Democratic Democratic
Popular vote 23,340 13,736
Percentage 13.16% 7.74%

Attorney General before election

Irvin B. Nathan
Democratic

Elected Attorney General

Karl Racine
Democratic

The 2014 Washington, D.C. Attorney General election was held on November 4, 2014, to elect the Attorney General of Washington, D.C., concurrently with elections to the United States Senate in various states and elections to the United States House of Representatives and various state and local elections.

This was the first election for the office, which was previously appointed by the Mayor. Due to delays caused by an attempt to push the election back to 2018, there were no primary elections for the office. Instead, every candidate – all of them Democrats – ran together in the general election.

Incumbent Democratic Attorney General Irvin B. Nathan, who was appointed by Mayor Vincent C. Gray in 2011, did not run in the election, which attorney Karl Racine won with 36% of the vote.[1]

Background

In a referendum in 2010, D.C. voters approved the establishment of an elected office of Attorney General by 76% to 24%. In July 2012,[2] the D.C. Council voted to postpone the election to 2018, following disagreements over what powers and responsibilities the Attorney General should have. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson called the vote "an embarrassment."[2]

In September 2013, Paul Zukerberg filed suit against the D.C. Council and the city elections claiming any delay would violate the District charter — which was amended through the 2010 ballot question to provide for the election of the city's top lawyer.[2] Attorney General Nathan initially argued that Zukerberg, who planned to run in the election, was not suffering any "meaningful hardship" from pushing back the election.[3]

On February 7, 2014, a District of Columbia Superior Court judge ruled that ballots for the April 1 primary elections could be printed without the Attorney General race.[4] Zukerberg appealed the ruling, declaring himself a candidate and arguing that he would suffer "irreparable harm" if the election were postponed.[5][6]

On June 4, 2014 the District of Columbia Court of Appeals overturned the lower court's decision. According to the ruling, the Court of Appeals "[determined] that the Superior Court's interpretation was incorrect as a matter of law and reverse." They stated in the ruling that the original language in the Elected Attorney General Act is ambiguous in stating the election "shall be after January 1, 2014," and that the attorney general referendum ratified by a majority of D.C. voters last year made it seem as though the election would take place in 2014.[7]

Election format

Because the Court of Appeals' ruling came after the April 1 primary elections, this was a one-stage election, with all five candidates, all of them Democrats, running together on a general election ballot.[8] Because of low levels of voter awareness, stemming from the delays, unusual format and the competitive mayoral election, it was speculated that ballot order may help determine the election.[8] This was said to be beneficial Racine and Williams, who appeared on the ballot first and second, respectively, after a lottery was held on September 12 to determine ballot placement. Smith was third, Zukerberg fourth and Masters fifth.[9]

Candidates

On June 13, Zukerberg collected nominating petitions.[10]

Lorie Masters, a litigator and activist, announced her candidacy for Attorney General on July 10, 2014.[11] Masters said that as Attorney General her "primary focus ... would be on 'ethical issues' within the District government," and that she wanted to "make sure that the rights and perspectives of D.C. voters are respected."[11] She envisioned the role of the Attorney General as "a check on the other power centers in the government."[11]

White-collar attorney Karl Racine and legislative policy analyst Lateefah Williams also announced their candidacies in the local press.[12]

On July 9, attorney Mark Tuohey, who had declared his candidacy on June 17,[13] dropped out of the race and endorsed Racine.[14]

In November 2013, Zukerberg formally announced his candidacy.[3]

Federal lawyer Edward "Smitty" Smith formally launched his campaign for the post on July 12, 2014.[15]

Declared

Withdrew

Declined

General election

Campaign

Masters' campaign released mailing pieces which the Washington Post described as "text-heavy",[17] a television advertisement that focused on her anti-corruption work,[18] and a series of advertisements critical of opponents Karl Racine and Paul Zukerberg.[19][20][21]

Zukerberg argued that he would better represent the public interest than previous Attorneys General, announced his support for the decriminalization of marijuana and an increase in the ease with which nonviolent criminal records are expunged to promote restorative justice.[22]

Zukerberg was endorsed by the Washington Teachers' Union,[23] D.C. Councilmember Tommy Wells[24] and Jeff Steele, operator of D.C. Urban Moms & Dads, an anonymous web forum.[23]

Smith emphasized the need for reform of D.C.'s juvenile justice system.[25] He saw the Attorney General's role as "cooperative" with the D.C. Council and expressed disagreement with Attorney General Nathan's contention[26] that the 2012 budget autonomy act approved by the Council violates the District of Columbia Home Rule Act.[25]

Shortly before Smith's campaign finance report was released on August 11, he announced he had raised over $185,000 during the first fundraising quarter of the campaign,[27][28] including more from outside donors than all other Attorney General candidates combined[28][29][30][31][32] (Karl Racine raised nearly $257,000, but he donated or loaned $225,000 of that total to his own campaign).[30] According to the finance report, Smith's campaign paid a company owned by Jauhar Abraham for petition signature collection.[27][33]

In an interview at the hearing for S.132, the New Columbia Admission Act, Smith told an interviewer at The Atlantic that “as Americans, under no conditions should issues of political convenience or expedience dictate fundamental rights. The fact that [D.C. statehood] might prove politically inconvenient for either party is not a just reason for continuing to deny citizens those rights.”[34] According to the City Paper, Smith's campaign tried to persuade Masters and Zukerberg to drop out of the race in order to "[consolidate] the anti-Racine vote," but both rivals declined to do so.[35]

Smith was endorsed by the Metropolitan Washington Council AFL-CIO,[36] Jews United for Justice,[37][38] D.C. Police Union,[39] D.C. Working Families,[40] Gertrude Stein Democratic Club[40] and Service Employees International Union Local 32BJ.[40]

On August 28, Washingtonian magazine reported that three anonymous staff members at the Office of the Attorney General had filed complaints with the D.C. Board of Elections alleging two OAG employees, including Attorney General Nathan, had violated the Hatch Act by promoting Racine's campaign at work.[41] According to the complaints, Nathan "praised and recommended Karl Racine, and he asked us to support him" during two meetings on July 9, before Racine had declared he would run for office.[41] In an interview, Racine stated that "Nathan did not recruit" him "to run for the attorney generalship" and that he would have no reason to believe that Nathan would conduct himself in any other way than "appropriately [and] ethically".[42]

Media sources characterized Racine as the candidate who reflected the legal establishment.[43][44][45] Racine said that if elected, he would act with greater independence from the Mayor and D.C. Council.[42][44] He supported Attorney General Nathan's argument that the D.C. budget autonomy act violates the District of Columbia Home Rule Act.[44] Racine released a 12-page policy platform called "Keys to Justice".[46][47]

Racine initially expressed disapproval of the initiative to legalize marijuana, saying in August that it "is going to take a bit more time for the community to get its head around,"[42] but had apparently reversed his position by late September, "enthusiastically" supporting legalization in a debate.[48] The Washington City Paper suggested Racine flip-flopped after a poll showed nearly two thirds of D.C. residents were supportive of marijuana legalization.[49][50]

Racine was endorsed by Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler,[51] SEIU Local 722,[52] D.C. Councilmember Jack Evans[53] and The Washington Post, which cited the "unique ... depth and range" of his qualifications and his "rich record of community service."[54]

Racine had raised an additional $407,736 by the October 10 reporting deadline, more than any other candidate, with $225,000 of that total from a second personal loan from Racine to his campaign.[55] One week after the reporting deadline, on October 17, fellow candidate Smith filed a request for investigation with the D.C. Office of Campaign Finance, alleging that Racine's failure to list occupation information for 266 individual contributors and employer information for all 390 individual contributors in the report constituted an "intentional and illegal" breach of the Campaign Finance Act of 2011.[56] Racine's campaign attributed the missing information to "a botched fundraising database transfer" and promised to amend the report.[56]

On October 22 and 23, the Washington City Paper and the Washington Post ran a series of articles on a slate of audits that found Venable LLP had improperly documented expenses charged to the Troubled Asset Relief Program and overcharged the D.C. government, including the Office of the Attorney General, by hundreds of thousands of dollars while Racine was the managing partner of the firm.[57][58][19] At a press conference the next day, Lorie Masters criticized Racine for overbilling and his allegedly "cozy" relationship with embattled D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray.[58][19]

Polling

Poll source Date(s)
administered
Sample
size
Margin of
error
Lorie
Masters (D)
Karl
Racine (D)
Edward
Smith (D)
Lateefah
Williams (D)
Paul
Zukerberg (D)
Other Undecided
Public Policy Polling October 20–22, 2014 591 ± 4% 12% 22% 13% 4% 11% 38%
Marist September 14–16, 2014 572 LV ± 4% 7% 5% 5% 7% 14% 4% 57%
1,070 RV ± 3% 8% 5% 6% 9% 12% 4% 58%

Results

Washington, D.C. Attorney General election, 2014[59]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Karl Racine 63,774 35.96
Democratic Edward "Smitty" Smith 34,039 19.19
Democratic Lorie Masters 24,427 13.77
Democratic Paul Zukerberg 23,340 13.16
Democratic Lateefah Williams 13,736 7.74
Other Write-ins 1,101 0.62
Over Votes Other 162 0.09
Under Votes Other 16,779 9.46
Total votes 177,358 100
Democratic hold

References

  1. ^ "Karl Racine wins first-ever race for D.C. attorney general". The Washington Post. 4 November 2014. Retrieved 4 November 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c "D.C. Council delays first election of attorney general". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2014-04-06. 
  3. ^ a b "Attorney Paul Zukerberg Suing DC Council Over Timing of Attorney General Election". Washingtonian.com. Retrieved 2014-02-21. 
  4. ^ "D.C. Judge: AG Race Won't Be on April 1 Ballot". CBS. Retrieved 2014-04-06. 
  5. ^ "Paul Zukerberg Appeals Attorney General Election Decision". dcist.com. Archived from the original on 2015-02-16. Retrieved 2014-02-06. 
  6. ^ Matt Cohen (February 7, 2014). "There Will Not Be An Attorney General Election This April". DCist. Archived from the original on March 10, 2014. Retrieved August 12, 2014. 
  7. ^ Matt Cohen (June 4, 2014). "Court Rules City Must Hold Attorney General Election This Year (UPDATE)". DCist. Archived from the original on October 16, 2014. Retrieved June 12, 2014. 
  8. ^ a b "D.C. attorney general race attracts little interest, awareness from voters, poll finds". The Washington Post. September 18, 2014. Retrieved November 4, 2014. 
  9. ^ "D.C. ballot for Nov. 4 general election is set". The Washington Post. September 12, 2014. Retrieved November 4, 2014. 
  10. ^ Matt Cohen and Sarah Anne Hughes (June 13, 2014). "Board Of Elections Hands Over Ballot Petitions For An Elected Attorney General". DCist. Archived from the original on November 6, 2017. Retrieved June 14, 2014. 
  11. ^ a b c Mike DeBonis (2014-07-16). "Lorie Masters seeks D.C. attorney general post in November election". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2014-10-12. 
  12. ^ Jennifer van der Kleut (2014-07-16). "D.C. attorney general race: One candidate drops out, four new ones jump in". ABC7 WJLA. Retrieved 2014-07-22. 
  13. ^ Mike Debonis (June 17, 2014). "Mark Tuohey, sports-loving defense lawyer, joins D.C. attorney general race". The Washington Post. Retrieved November 4, 2014. 
  14. ^ Mike Debonis (July 9, 2014). "Mark Tuohey drops out of D.C. AG race, endorses Karl Racine". The Washington Post. Retrieved November 4, 2014. 
  15. ^ Mike DeBonis (2014-07-07). "Edward 'Smitty' Smith, former federal lawyer, joins D.C. attorney general race". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2014-07-22. 
  16. ^ "Pair of bills poised to alter power of first elected D.C. attorney general". The Washington Times. March 26, 2013. Retrieved November 18, 2014. 
  17. ^ Mike Debonis, October 3, 2014, Washington Post, DCision ’14 potpourri: Catania wins Sierra Club nod; AG candidates hit the mail, Retrieved October 22, 2014,
  18. ^ Will Sommer, October 21, 2014, Washington City Paper, Watch New Campaign Ads by Muriel Bowser and Lorie Masters, Retrieved October 22, 2014,
  19. ^ a b c "Audits critical of candidate Karl Racine's firm roil D.C. attorney general race". The Washington Post. 23 October 2014. Retrieved 23 October 2014. 
  20. ^ "Lorie Masters TV ad takes aim at Karl Racine's tax record". Washington Post. 30 October 2014. Retrieved 1 November 2014. 
  21. ^ "Attorney General Candidate Masters Uses TV Ad to Attack Racine, Zukerberg". The Washington City Paper. 29 October 2014. Retrieved 3 November 2014. 
  22. ^ "D.C. attorney general candidates say hello as first campaign starts taking shape". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2014-09-10. 
  23. ^ a b "Endorsement Roundup: D.C. Working Families, Stein Club Back Smitty for Attorney General". The Washington City Paper. Retrieved 2014-10-23. 
  24. ^ "Councilmembers Make Their Attorney General Picks". The Washington City Paper. Retrieved 2014-10-23. 
  25. ^ a b Mike DeBonis (2014-07-07). "Edward 'Smitty' Smith, former federal lawyer, joins D.C. attorney general race". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2014-07-22. 
  26. ^ "DC Attorney General Irvin B. Nathan Questions Legality of Budget Autonomy Measure". Office of the Attorney General of the District of Columbia. 2013-01-07. Retrieved 2014-07-22. 
  27. ^ a b "Attorney General Candidates Dig Into Their Own Pockets". Washington City Paper. 2014-08-12. Retrieved 2014-08-12. 
  28. ^ a b "Smitty for AG Report of Receipts and Expenditures" (PDF). District of Columbia Office of Campaign Finance. 2014-08-11. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-08-13. Retrieved 2014-08-13. 
  29. ^ "Lorie Masters for Attorney General Report of Receipts and Expenditures" (PDF). District of Columbia Office of Campaign Finance. 2014-08-11. Retrieved 2014-08-18. 
  30. ^ a b "Racine for AG Report of Receipts and Expenditures" (PDF). District of Columbia Office of Campaign Finance. 2014-08-11. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-08-13. Retrieved 2014-08-18. 
  31. ^ "Lateefah Williams for Attorney General Report of Receipts and Expenditures" (PDF). District of Columbia Office of Campaign Finance. 2014-08-11. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-08-13. Retrieved 2014-08-18. 
  32. ^ "Zukerberg for Attorney General Report of Receipts and Expenditures" (PDF). District of Columbia Office of Campaign Finance. 2014-08-11. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-08-13. Retrieved 2014-08-18. 
  33. ^ "Smitty for AG Report of Receipts and Expenditures: Amendment 1" (PDF). District of Columbia Office of Campaign Finance. 2014-08-11. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-08-26. Retrieved 2014-08-22. 
  34. ^ Andrew Giambrone (2014-09-22). "Is D.C. Statehood a Matter of Civil Rights?". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2014-09-22. 
  35. ^ "Smitty Campaign Tries, Fails to Get Two Other Attorney General Candidates to Drop Out". Washington City Paper. 2014-10-20. Retrieved 2014-10-30. 
  36. ^ Kaminski, Matthew. "What Labor Wants." Wall Street Journal. September 18, 2009.
  37. ^ Mike DeBonis (2014-09-16). "'Smitty' Smith, Elissa Silverman pull down AFL-CIO endorsements". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2014-09-18. 
  38. ^ Will Sommer (2014-09-16). "Attorney General Candidate "Smitty," At-Large Hopeful Silverman Land Labor Endorsements". Washington City Paper. Retrieved 2014-09-18. 
  39. ^ Will Sommer (2014-10-01). "Police Union Backs "Smitty" for Attorney General". Washington City Paper. Retrieved 2014-10-03. 
  40. ^ a b c Will Sommer (2014-10-07). "Endorsement Roundup: D.C. Working Families, Stein Club Back Smitty for Attorney General". Washington City Paper. Retrieved 2014-10-10. 
  41. ^ a b "DC's Attorney General Jumps Into a Race He Didn't Want". Washingtonian magazine. 28 August 2014. Retrieved 29 August 2014. 
  42. ^ a b c "The Kojo Nnamdi Show: The Politics Hour: Transcript, August 29, 2014". WAMU. 29 August 2014. Retrieved 13 September 2014. 
  43. ^ "Karl A. Racine and Lateefah Williams enter race for D.C. attorney general". Washington Post. 10 July 2014. Retrieved 19 July 2014. 
  44. ^ a b c "Attorney General Independence Looms at Candidate Forum". Washington City Paper. 8 September 2014. Retrieved 14 September 2014. 
  45. ^ "Tight Race for D.C. Attorney General". Afro-American. 20 August 2014. Retrieved 25 August 2014. 
  46. ^ "Keys to Justice: Unlocking Fairness for Everyone in Our City" (PDF). VoteKarlRacine.com. Retrieved 7 October 2014. 
  47. ^ DeBonis, Mike. "DCision '14 potpourri: Catania wins Sierra Club nod; AG candidates hit the mail". Washington Post. Retrieved 7 October 2014. 
  48. ^ "At Debate, D.C. Attorney General Hopefuls Fight To Woo The Many Undecided Voters". WAMU. 30 September 2014. Retrieved 30 September 2014. 
  49. ^ "Marijuana Wins Over Karl Racine". Washington City Paper. 2 October 2014. Retrieved 5 October 2014. 
  50. ^ "Poll: D.C. voters poised to legalize pot, elevating national debate over marijuana". The Washington Post. 18 September 2014. Retrieved 5 October 2014. 
  51. ^ "Maryland's Doug Gansler Endorses Karl Racine for Attorney General". Washington City Paper. 29 September 2014. Retrieved 5 October 2014. 
  52. ^ "PRESS RELEASE: SEIU Local 722 Endorses Karl Racine for DC Attorney General". VoteKarlRacine.com. Retrieved 7 October 2014. 
  53. ^ "Councilmembers Make Their Attorney General Picks". Washington City Paper. 17 October 2014. Retrieved 17 October 2014. 
  54. ^ "Karl Racine for D.C. attorney general". The Washington Post. 5 October 2014. Retrieved 5 October 2014. 
  55. ^ "Racine Puts in Another $225K to Lead Attorney General's Race Fundraising". Washington City Paper. 14 October 2014. Retrieved 17 October 2014. 
  56. ^ a b "Attorney General Candidate Wants Investigation of Rival's Fundraising". Washington City Paper. 17 October 2014. Retrieved 17 October 2014. 
  57. ^ "Karl's In Charge: Audits Question Bills from Attorney General Candidate's Law Firm". Washington City Paper. 22 October 2014. Retrieved 23 October 2014. 
  58. ^ a b "Attorney General Candidate Masters Holds Press Conference to Slam Rivals Zukerberg, Racine". Washington City Paper. 23 October 2014. Retrieved 23 October 2014. 
  59. ^ "General Election Election Date: Tuesday, November 04, 2014 Certified Results". District of Columbia Board of Elections. December 3, 2014. Retrieved January 4, 2015. 
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