The Debate About the District 6 Race
I’ve stood by silently observing the debate on my blog regarding the District 6 race. I’m glad people are getting engaged in the process, but I apologize for being just a bit cynical about the final outcome. I will not get involved in endorsing a candidate because: (1) It’s inappropriate for me to weigh in, given I don’t live in District 6; and (2) I don’t believe anything will change the outcome of this race.
As I stated a few weeks ago, the stars are finally aligned for Derrick Leon Davis. In his third campaign for Council, he will finally hit the jackpot, potentially serving District 6 for 11 years (by finishing the next three years of Johnson’s term, then running for two more terms before he is required by law to step down). The County Executive has his back, the unions are pouring money and volunteers into his campaign, and because he’s able to put his face out there and separate himself clearly from the pack of 14 chasing after him, he should be able to easily gather the votes to win the race. I’m not sure whether many of the 6,000 who voted for Leslie Johnson the last time around will get behind Davis, but many of them only showed up to vote on races higher on the ticket, and chose Johnson based on name recognition. Those votes may not be there to get in a special election.
I did take note of the Washington Post’s reversal on their endorsement this time around. Just last year, they endorsed Mark Polk but with his poor showing at the polls, they went with their second choice, Derrick Leon Davis, this year. They stated that his strong showing at the polls showed his ability to connect with voters. I disagree, because anyone who knows Prince George’s County recognizes that getting enough money to achieve name recognition from signs and mailers is often enough to convince the electorate. That’s why Leslie Johnson won the last time around. Davis only collected $1,766 from 8 voters in District 6, which represents pocket change compared with the $45,000 he raised from politically-connected friends and associates.
When I worked on a local District 9 race last year, we collected more donations while knocking on doors in District 9 than Davis collected from a county where he has claimed to live most of his life. One of the reasons our own Councilman Franklin was so successful is not only because of his own money and contributions from slates, but the dozens of smaller contributions from supporters throughout his district. Davis simply hasn’t demonstrated that, and the Post didn’t do their homework in figuring that out. The Post then spent the rest of the editorial talking about why Davis, as a Baker ally, is critical to getting things done in Prince George’s County. In other words, Davis doesn’t have a mind or agenda of his own, but is willing to get in line with whatever the County Executive wants to move forward. There’s nothing in the editorial to suggest he has answers for the planning and development concerns of District 6.
Unfortunately for Mark Polk, not only was he undermined by the Washington Post, but he also received the endorsement of the Coalition for Change, which is the kiss of death for any serious political contender. In 2010, they did not endorse any winners among the contested races. While Sandy Pruitt is certainly a lightning rod because of her criticism of county politics, she’s never been able to transform her advocacy into real change for the county. Arthur Turner, the only other legitimately well-known candidate in the field, has ardent supporters, but also seems to “rub alot of people the wrong way.” While that’s a problem, the bigger issue (as all candidates in this county face) is that he simply hasn’t puckered up to the right people to get the financial backing and political support to win. Read an excellent summary of a recent District 6 debate for more background on other players in this race from “PGC Blog.”