Virginia Republican Party Chair John Whitbeck joins us in studio, and we get an update on Congress and D.C.'s "Death with Dignity" bill from D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton.
Federal officials investigate whether D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray’s 2010 campaign concealed donations. A Maryland judge blocks both a Maryland lawmaker and her nominated replacement from taking a seat in Annapolis. And a prominent Virginia Democrat decides not to throw up any obstacles in front of a fellow party member seeking a gubernatorial nomination. Join us for our weekly review of the politics, policies and personalities of the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia.
- Tom Sherwood Resident Analyst; NBC 4 reporter; and Columnist for the Current Newspapers
- Jeannemarie Devolites Davis Director, Virginia Liaison Office (Washington, DC); Former Virginia State Senator (R-34th District- Fairfax)
- Anita Bonds Chairman, D.C. Democratic State Committee
- Doug Sloan Democratic Candidate, D.C. Council (At-Large); Candidate, U.S. House of Representatives, D-Washington, D.C.
- John Capozzi Democratic Candidate, D.C. Council, (At-Large); former shadow U.S. representative
Politics Hour Video
Anita Bonds, chairman of the D.C. Democratic State Committee and a candidate for the at-large D.C. Council seat, discussed whether she would accept corporate contributions and, if appointed, whether she would resign from her job with the city’s primary road paving contractor.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIFrom WAMU 88.5 at American University in Washington, welcome to "The Politics Hour," starring Tom Sherwood. I'm Kojo Nnamdi. Tom Sherwood is our resident analyst. He's an NBC 4 reporter and a columnist for The Current Newspapers and, it would seem, becoming a serial troublemaker with the story that he filed yesterday...
MR. TOM SHERWOODI wear that as a badge of honor.
NNAMDI...a story that he filed yesterday having to do with a possible swap between Prince George's County and the District of Columbia involving the FBI headquarters moving to Prince George's County and the Washington Redskins moving back to RFK Stadium. Tom Sherwood, could you talk a little bit about that story and the reaction you have received to it?
SHERWOODWell, let's first say that the idea to move -- to close down that ugly brutalist building that they had -- FBI headquarters downtown, everyone agrees. I would say everyone I've spoken to agrees -- all three, the federal government, the local government, business leaders, the Board of Trade. It is a horrible building. It's a dead spot on Pennsylvania Avenue. And so the General Services Administration, the federals, are looking at potential places to go, and all three jurisdictions have a good claim that they have a good spot where the FBI could build a new billion-plus, maybe $2 billion headquarters.
SHERWOODWell, I have found out that the District, which has been, you know, trying for more than a decade to get the Redskins back into town, that there were some city officials who did in fact talk to the high-ranking officials in Prince George's County about, well, the city would maybe give up its claim on the FBI and support Prince George's getting them if Prince George's would allow the Redskins to get out of their lease early -- they've got 15 years left on FedEx Field -- and move back to the city. Now, I said they were conversations. I said -- I want to be clear about that, that the District...
NNAMDIPrince George's County denies that there were conversations.
SHERWOODWell, no, they didn't. They don't.
NNAMDIOh, they don't?
SHERWOODPrince George's County says they're not interested, that they love the Skins, and they're part of the community, and they -- but they have not flatly to me yet...
NNAMDIDenied that there were conversations.
SHERWOOD...said, no, no, there have been no conversations.
SHERWOODAnd I said -- and these are not -- what I call receiving-line conversations or, you know, party conversations or drunken-party conversations. There were conversations expressing the idea that the District can maybe help Prince George's County. And I was told that Prince George's County heard this and didn't really go forward with it very much. But it's just it's reportable conversations, and I stand by my story, as we like to say in the journalism business.
NNAMDIHave the Washington Redskins been made aware of these discussions, and do they have a new response?
SHERWOODI was -- well, the Redskins are not in part of this story. We have done stories since Tony Williams was mayor -- the stories that I first did and every mayor since -- about how the city would try to work out some deal for the Redskins to be able to end their contract with Prince George's County, maybe pay off the lease in some way, which will be several hundred million dollars, and then allow the Redskins to build, at their expense -- at its expense, a new stadium. And so those -- the Redskins are not a part of this story, and I didn't call them. They never respond to any of these stories.
NNAMDIPrince George's County says that if the Redskins were to renege on their contract, it could cost them as much as $15 million a year for the next 15 years of their contract.
SHERWOODWell, that's not quite -- it will be about $160 million total for the 15 years left. Prince George's makes about $20 million a year off of these leases. They've got about 15 years left, but the -- to end the contract would be an expense. It would be part of the expense that the Redskins would have to do in order to change locations. Now...
SHERWOOD...does Dan Snyder want to move back to the District? Some people -- he has never publicly said, but many people that I know say that he would like to have a new stadium on the site of RFK.
NNAMDIAnd Mike DeBonis reports in The Washington Post that a Washington, D.C. councilmember who shall remain nameless, Jack Evans, has been floating this idea for years in private.
SHERWOODWell, I'm not aware that he -- Jack -- well, I don't know -- I asked Jack Evans about it, and he wouldn't comment on any private talks. But he said, "Yes, it's a good idea."
SHERWOODAnd so I think we'll leave it at that, that I'm not saying it's good idea or a bad idea. I'm just saying it was discussed, and I stand by that story.
NNAMDIWell, there's another report today by Alan Suderman that the new book by the former D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee had a -- depending on whom you're listening to or reading -- either a guidance figure or a collaborator, both of them coming in the forms of one Harry Jaffe, who works for The Examiner newspaper and the Washingtonian. I'm, of course, speaking with an individual who collaborated with Harry Jaffe on another book about former Mayor Marion Barry. What do you know about this latest Jaffe collaboration?
SHERWOODI can say that Harry Jaffe and I worked four years on our book, "Dream City," and we're working right now on a new version, an epilogue or maybe a foreword to the book, which is still being well received 17 years later, 18 years later. But whether or not Harry is involved with Michelle Rhee's book...
NNAMDIIt hasn't come up in your conversations?
SHERWOODYes. Well, yes, it has. And let me take the Prince George's point of view...
SHERWOOD...if I can put on Scott Peterson -- he's the press guy for Rushern Baker -- I had no knowledge, specific knowledge that Harry was in fact involved. But even if he was, he ought to say so. That would be a fine thing if he helped write her book.
NNAMDIAnd apparently in the acknowledgements, Michelle Rhee said that she could not have done it without Harry Jaffe's guidance, and the Washingtonian at one point noted that Harry Jaffe was collaborating with Michelle Rhee on the book. More to come.
SHERWOODAnd can we just say -- also say she said nice things about "Dream City," the book?
NNAMDIShe did. Not -- if not about Tom Sherwood himself.
SHERWOODWell, you know, I don't need artificial praise.
NNAMDIChe Brown, the brother of former D.C. Council Chairman Kwame Brown, will plead guilty in federal court to lying on loan documents that, according to his attorney, A. Scott Bolden, federal prosecutors charged Che Brown with bank fraud in court papers filed Wednesday, accusing him of inflating his income by an estimated $35,000 on loan documents he submitted to a mortgage company in 2010.
NNAMDIIt was similar to the plea entered by the former chairman. And, of course, Che Brown was reported to have been involved in a kind of mysterious transfer of money during the 2008 campaign, I think it was, for chair of the City Council involving some $300,000.
SHERWOODThis is really low-level foolishness that, unfortunately, for both Kwame Brown and Che Brown, his brother, is a felony. You cannot go into a financial deal with banks or lending agencies and grossly change your income and put down moneys that you don't have. And this is just a side shoot to the investigation into the 2008 Kwame Brown campaign for at-large in which a couple hundred thousand dollars in money were not properly accounted for at the time and a mysterious $60,000-or-so campaign bank account was set up on the side that Che Brown was involved with.
SHERWOODSo this is just an embarrassment. It just shows the tail to which the U.S. attorney's office is investigating, not only this case, but the scandals around the mayor's campaign, too, and before that, Harry Thomas' campaign. The use of money, you know, the federal prosecutors and the FBI and the IRS, they have a very good way of doing an audit on you.
SHERWOODAnd they will check to see how much money you spend and what you spend it on and what documents you sign and whether or not you had the money to back it all up. And so this is where, so far, Kwame and Che have been caught, but it has nothing to do so far yet with the public corruption of the campaign that's being investigated.
NNAMDITom Sherwood, he's our resident analyst. He's an NBC 4 reporter and a columnist for The Current Newspapers. Four years ago, Republicans started a comeback of sorts in Virginia where they bounced back from defeats in the 2008 presidential and U.S. Senate elections by sweeping every statewide race in 2009.
NNAMDIThey are no doubt hoping for a repeat in 2013. And joining us in studio now is Jeannemarie Davis. She is a Republican candidate for lieutenant governor of Virginia. She's a former member of the Virginia Senate whose district included parts of Fairfax County. Jeannemarie Davis, good to see you again.
MS. JEANNEMARIE DEVOLITES DAVISIt's great to be here with you, Kwame. (sic) Thank you.
NNAMDI(unintelligible) but, of course -- well...
DAVISI'm sorry. I'm listening to the last story and processing it.
NNAMDINo. I'm glad you mentioned that because the names Kojo, Kwame, Kwasi and at least two others that I can think of that begin with K are all taken from the same Ghanaian language and all mean days of the week. So the confusion is fairly...
DAVISThere you go. Tom is always...
SHERWOODBut the finances are very much different for each one of you.
SHERWOODMaybe we should check.
DAVISKojo. Kojo is an honest man.
NNAMDIIf you have questions or comments for Jeannemarie Davis, you can call us at 800-433-8850 or send email to email@example.com. One of the keys to the Republican success in 2009 seems to have been the party's strategy in setting up their statewide candidates, clearing the field then for Bob McDonnell, uniting in support, downed the ballot for Bill Bolling, the lieutenant governor, and Ken Cuccinelli, the candidate for attorney general.
NNAMDIThis time around, you're gunning for lieutenant governor spot, and the jockeying for the top spot for governor has already been controversial. How would you compare the dynamics with the -- within the Virginia Republican Party to what it was like in 2009? And what do you think needs to happen for the GOP to repeat the kind of success it had then?
DAVISYou know, I think that there were two reasons that we did so well in 2009, and the first is this: For the past 40 years, whichever party the president's been elected from, Virginia has elected the governor from the opposite party. They tend to do a little pushback from the person that runs the country because Virginia tends to vote nationally, particularly those from Northern Virginia.
DAVISSecondly, I believe Bob McDonnell ran a tremendously perfect campaign in Northern Virginia. And Creigh Deeds was from a rural location over by where the Homestead is located. I don't think he could connect well with Northern Virginians. And that was another dynamic that was so important. Campaigns matter.
DAVISAnd I think that Gov. McDonnell ran a much better campaign than Creigh Deeds did. So those two things combined, I think, really ultimately determined what the outcome was and not necessarily that we had three folks running that had non-controversial nominations. I think that the fact that Bill Bolling has made a decision not to run will...
NNAMDIAs a Republican.
DAVISAs a -- well, I think Bill will probably not run. To run as an independent, you have to be able to raise tens of millions of dollars to overcome the ability for the candidates from the two major parties to be able to raise a lot of money. But at this point, we are in a posture where Ken is the presumptive nominee. I think that what that will do is provide for a less destructive convention because typically the top of the ticket is where you see the focus.
DAVISAnd had we gone into a convention with two folks that were competing against one another, trying to manipulate rules, that sort of thing, I think that that would have caused a lot of ill feelings for people coming out of that convention. Down-ticket folks don't really pay that much attention to it. So I think that, as a result, we've gotten from a very large convention to a rather small one.
DAVISAnd the people that will be coming as delegates will typically be those that the lieutenant governor and attorney general candidates are able to draw out. So I think we're looking at a much smaller, much less contentious convention, and people will leave being OK with who and supporting whoever the nominees are.
NNAMDIIt won't be contentious with all of the candidates for lieutenant governor?
DAVISNo. You know, one of the things that I'm really thrilled to see because we've -- many of us have been campaigning for several months now, is this isn't personal. We're all friends. Many of us have known each other and worked together for a long while.
NNAMDIOh, there's no fun in that.
DAVISI know. And...
SHERWOODI'm going to sleep over here.
DAVISI really -- sorry. I know you wanted me to say -- but people, generally speaking, are running positive campaigns. They're talking about their own experience. Now, not that that won't change, you know, as we get closer to the convention, but currently, it's been a very positive climate. The two gentlemen who are running for attorney generals have served in the legislature together for years. They're both fine gentlemen. They're friends. And there's no animosity between them either.
SHERWOODOK. Enough with all of this.
NNAMDIOK. Wake up, Tom.
SHERWOODWell, for people who don't know, very often, the Republicans have conventions, not primaries.
SHERWOODThe Democrats like to do the primary thing. You have a convention in May. Where is it going to be?
DAVISIt's going to be in Richmond.
SHERWOODIn Richmond at the Coliseum there.
DAVISMm hmm, at the Coliseum, yes.
SHERWOODFine place. How it -- how do you get to be a delegate to a convention? Let's say you're from Northern Virginia or Southside or Shenandoah Valley. You want to be a delegate. Do you have to be a member of the Republican Party and be elected from your county or city or how does that work?
DAVISThe way it works is this: We don't have party registration in Virginia, so nobody really knows who a Democrat or a Republican is. To determine that, you oftentimes use previous primary voting information, but as you indicated, we don't have a lot of primaries. So it's very difficult in that regard. In essence, anyone who needs -- who wants to be a delegate secures a filing form, which will come from each of the Republican GOP committees. And there is one in every locality in Virginia. You download the form. You fill it out. You sign it. You send it back to where it needs to go.
SHERWOODBut you compete on the local level to go to the state convention?
DAVISYou do. But every locality has a certain number of votes, delegates that they are allowed to send. But the votes are weighted.
SHERWOODBased on? OK.
DAVISIt's based on a formula. The formula is based on population and how well Gov. Romney did in the election, so those...
DAVIS...localities where Romney won have picked up delegates. Those where he lost have lost a few. But population weighs into it, too. So Fairfax County has roughly 1,300 votes, but they're weighted. And you can actually send up to 250 people per vote, and they weight the vote determined on how many people go.
SHERWOODOh, my goodness. So the reason I asked is -- I don't want to get too much in the weeds about it. But I know it's kind of -- it is a complicated organizing contest for you.
SHERWOODRather than to go out and just ask people for the vote, you have to get people to come to the conventions.
SHERWOODIs it -- do you have a sense of what the winning person will need in order to win at the convention in May in Richmond?
DAVISNo. It's hard to judge how many will come. And a lot of that is because there are nine candidates for -- seven for lieutenant governor and two for attorney general. So I think until the filing deadline has come to an end, then we will know that kind of a...
SHERWOODWhen is that?
DAVISThe mass -- each local government has folks -- or each local committee has folks sign up...
SHERWOODThere's not one deadline?
SHERWOODOh, good. That's enough.
DAVISAnd then they have a mass meeting.
DAVISAnd that mass meeting elects the delegates. And they have to be between March 1 and April 30. So you can see there is complication in this.
DAVISIt's real grassroots, though, (unintelligible).
DAVIS...it's incumbent -- it is. And it's incumbent upon campaigns to communicate with folks that are in their corner to make sure they know what they need to do.
NNAMDIOur guest is Jeannemarie Davis. She's a Republican candidate for lieutenant governor of Virginia. We're taking your calls at 800-433-8850. Jeannemarie Davis is a former member of the Virginia Senate whose district included parts of Fairfax County. The general feeling among analysts was that the reason that Bill Bolling dropped out is because he didn't feel that he could beat Ken Cuccinelli at a convention because these conventions tend to attract more party activists.
NNAMDIAnd the activists tend to lean towards the conservative, maybe even the far right. Why do you think that your brand of conservatism is the way for the Virginia GOP to put its best foot forward next year?
DAVISWhen I -- as I'm traveling through the commonwealth, one of the -- there are two things that I'm stressing. One is my experience. I'm the only person running who has served in a governor's cabinet. I just left Gov. McDonnell after almost three years. And, you know, if you're lieutenant governor, you're not only, in this case, splitting tie votes because currently the Senate is 20-20.
DAVISBut should something happen that incapacitates the governor, you have to stand in and do that job, and I think that nobody other than myself has the broad based experience that includes legislative and leadership. I was elected into leadership back when I was in the House executive branch experience. And I directed the Washington office, so I have tremendous understanding and knowledge about federal affairs and how that impacts the states.
DAVISAnd, honestly, the federal government is impacting states' budgets and the way states are or aren't allowed to move forward with simple things like education. There is a lot of intrusion on states' rights in that regard. And so having that broad base of experience sets me apart from the rest, but the outcome of this...
NNAMDIBut you are Northern Virginia conservative, which in some parts, most state...
SHERWOODThat means moderate conservative.
NNAMDII'm about to say (word?) states, that's seen as being moderate.
DAVISYou know, the out come of this election has enhanced my ability to win the convention as well for one simple reason: People now understand that if you don't win 46 percent or better of the vote in Northern Virginia as a Republican, you cannot win statewide. And the analysis has shown, even by the most conservative analysts, like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, that we lost with women and minority voters.
DAVISBut I always represented a Democratic district, always. And I was elected four times because I have always connected well with women and minority voters. And so that has added strength to my argument as to why I'm the best candidate for lieutenant governor for the Republican Party because I'm the face -- I am a face of the party that needs to be more prominent. I'm someone that knows how to reach out to the very rapidly growing diverse community that we have in Northern Virginia.
DAVISAnd a lot of it is because I'm just second generation American. So my father and grandfather lived the lives that the -- that our new citizens, that our new voters are living today. And it's a tremendous connection. They want people to represent them, who understand what it's like to assimilate, and they're becoming a growing portion of the voting population.
SHERWOODThat's a positive view of the -- how Virginia is a purple state as the last two elections have now shown in national elections. But Ken Cuccinelli is not a purple state politician. He's very conservative. He's identified with the Tea Party in many respects. Now, I think that he would want a convention that will ratify him and build him up to -- as a kickoff for the general election next year. So it seems some analysts are saying that the convention will be fairly conservative, more so than Northern Virginia. And that could either undercut you or undercut your ability to appeal to the whole state.
DAVISI think that Ken is astute politically, and he understands what type of a ticket he needs to have and who an asset to the ticket would be.
SHERWOODWill it be a ticket?
DAVISKen -- no.
SHERWOODWill you run holding hands and, you know, that -- I mean, he has to be polite.
SHERWOODBut will you actually coordinate campaigns?
DAVISFirst, I'll say, Ken is staying out of the lieutenant governor and attorney general's races right now. He's made that very clear. And I think that that is the right thing for him to do. I think once the ticket is established, of course, we have to -- you run separately. You -- when you elect the governor, you don't automatically elect the lieutenant governor. It's a separate race.
DAVISAnd certainly, any candidate would have to use that opportunity to let the general voting population know what they bring to them and how they can help them and how they can best represent them. But I think you do have to run together talking about the principles of, you know, economic development, free markets.
SHERWOODCan you be bipartisan?
DAVISThose things are very important.
SHERWOODAre you -- do you see yourself as a bipartisan person?
DAVISI have always worked very well with both parties, and then I -- and...
SHERWOODTim Kaine did that in his race for the Senate against George Allen.
SHERWOODHe said, I am -- I'll work with anyone to get something done rather than the hard edge that George Allen ran.
DAVISRight. And I have a record of doing that. But I'll be honest with you. When in the general assembly, there are very few issues that are partisan. They're regional. When you look at the breakdown between people in the general assembly, it's typically the urban crescent versus the rural. And as much as the press likes to really promote the division between the parties, my experience in the general assembly has been...
SHERWOODIt's our fault?
DAVISNo. But it's what you like to talk about most.
DAVISAnd what you really see in the general assembly, and an accurate depiction of any divisiveness, is regional. It's really not party versus party. There's a tremendous amount of legislation that passes every single year. They consider 3,000 bills a year on the average, and 900 or so will pass. Almost all of them are pieces of legislation that enhance everyone's ability to live and to work. And they're passed unanimously, so...
SHERWOODWell, look at -- well...
NNAMDII'll get back to that in a second. But we have to go to the telephones. Please don your headphones so that we can all hear what Rick in Falls Church, Va. has to say. Rick, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
RICKHi, Jeannemarie. You sound like a nice lady, so I hope what I'm going to say doesn't offend you. But the Republicans have been talking about portraying themselves indifferently in order to get more votes, and the way they seem to be going about doing it is laughable. I've been following politics for 40 years, and it was obvious to me from the beginning and from reading the history of social programs and race relations that the Republican people are for -- that the Republicans are for the wealthy people and the Democrats are for the poor and middle class.
RICKAnd I haven't seen anything to keep me from that opinion. And to be able to stand there like John Boehner does and claim that we shouldn't tax the wealthiest people in our country. And for none of the Republicans to take a stand against that, it is unbelievable to most of us because we are not wealthy. And the way that...
NNAMDIWell, allow me to have Jeannemarie Davis respond. Do the -- does the Republican Party march in lockstep?
DAVISI think that's a generalization, and I think that your remarks are really targeted towards the federal government and what's going on federally. State and local government are so very different because the services we have to provide are local services. And so I think there needs to be a bifurcation between what's going on nationally and what goes on in the state and local level. But I'd like to point something out to you. President Obama likes to talk about how the Democrats are the party of the middle class.
DAVISAnd if that's the case, I guess I need to understand why in the free and reduced lunch program that was passed two years ago in the lame duck session with Democrats controlling the House and the Senate and the presidency, they demanded that the free -- that the basic school lunch be increased. There's a floor ceiling to $2.50 per lunch. Now, that's important because in (word?) county, for example, in Virginia, they charge $1.60.
DAVISNow, they have to sell that lunch for 90 cents more per child, per day which is hundreds of additional dollars, and that hits middle class families more than it hits anybody else. And that's just one of many examples of how the middle class is being struck upside the head by Democrats. I think Republicans, nationally, have fallen short of using examples, just as the one that I used, to help people understand that Democrats aren't any better for the middle class than the perception of Republicans. There's plenty of blame to go around.
NNAMDIRick, thank you for your call.
SHERWOODWell, this just dive into social issues 'cause that always gets the media excited.
DAVISLet's talk about the Washington Redskins moving to Washington.
SHERWOODThat's right. Well, we could do that, too.
SHERWOODBut, you know, on the most, you know, you mentioned that you represent the kind of person that Republican, the party, needs to appeal to, second generation, female. The general assembly got into a great -- got a lot of attention -- let me just say it that way...
SHERWOOD...with these abortion issues last year with the tests that would be required and all of that, and the Republican Party suffered minorly this year in some Senate races nationally because of some things some of the Republican candidates said about abortion, rape and all those other matters. Where do you as a -- I would say modern woman who understands the people of Virginia, where -- what is the abortion issue for you, and what needs to be done?
SHERWOODShould it not be an issue, or is it a dead-end road to say -- to speak to -- for you guys to push that? I don't know. How does that fit in? 'Cause I can see it in the convention again, a conservative convention. Cuccinelli is fairly conservative on this issue. And I'll just say, would that be held against you?
DAVISWell, you know...
SHERWOODI don't even know what your abortion views are.
DAVISRight. I am a pro-life Catholic, and I -- we -- the issues that have come before the general assembly, when I've served there, have been issues like banning partial birth abortion, parental consent and informed consent. And curiously, all three of those poll very highly across America. You know, 60 to 80 percent, depending on which of those issues you point out, Americans agree with. I think that on the state level, until and unless Roe v. Wade is overturned, abortion is not going to become illegal in this country.
DAVISAnd I think everybody realizes that. I think we need to do a better job of looking at what helps a woman make the best decision she can make for her, and I'm quickly going to tell you a story that was very compelling to me when I was knocking on doors when I first ran for and was elected to the House of Delegates. I met a young mother, probably 25, 26 years old, who had two toddlers in the yard, and she asked me where I stood in the issue. And I told her I was personally pro-life.
DAVISAnd she said to me, well, I'll vote for you because when I was 17, I had three abortions. And she said, now that I have had these two little ones, I know what I've done, and I will never forgive myself. And so I think that when we talk about this issue, we don't really focus on the emotional impact and the long term impact on women. And so giving them the tools that they need to understand what they're about to do and help them make the right decision based on that is very important.
DAVISAnd I think that's why informed consent and parental consent are issues that people get behind. But that's -- those are the kinds of issues that we're dealing with on the state level, and, as far as I'm concerned, we've done what we need to there. I think the vaginal ultrasound bill impeded into its civil liberties. And asking someone to go to that extreme, when what you want to do is -- if you want them to hear a heartbeat, then you can have them hear a recorded heartbeat. That would ultimately give them the same goal.
SHERWOODBut even then, at that -- I understand that. I get the point where the government then starts intruding on the -- a woman's right to choose under certain conditions is, I guess, is what your position would be.
DAVISI think that you want to help women understand what it is that they're about to do with all the information they need to make the best decision for themselves.
SHERWOODForce them to have the information? I apologize for getting the subject...
SHERWOODI realize the whole program could be on this subject, on the...
DAVISAnd ultimately it was left as the woman's choice. Ultimately, that bill wound up being an optional, the woman's choice to decide whether she wanted to have the information or not.
NNAMDIWe're running out of time very quickly, but that was one of the issues on which the current Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling classed a record-breaking -- cast a tie-breaking vote. He cast a record 28 tie-breaking votes in the last session. And you talked earlier about how on most of the issues, there is agreement between Democrats and Republicans. But given that he had to cast 28 tie-breaking votes, what issues do you think that your ability, if you are elected lieutenant governor, to cast that tie-breaking vote is going to be most important on in the upcoming sessions?
DAVISActually, I don't believe that was a tie-breaking vote. We have two pro-life Democrats, Chuck Colgan and Puckett who voted for that, and so that actually, I believe, passed 22-to-18 until the sponsor pulled the bill. His tie-breaking votes, you know, gotten issues. A lot votes that aren't social issues, that there's just a disagreement even in fiscal issues and whether you should tax or not and that kind of thing, I think that those tie-breaking votes really ran the gamut of issues.
DAVISAnd -- but I think than the lieutenant governor has the ability to talk to people behind the scenes and to let them know, hey, if I'm going to break this tie vote, I think this is the direction we need to into, or I think you need to change this or that. It gives you a little leverage honestly as the lieutenant governor, and if a sponsor wants to pass their bill and it's going to come to a 20-20 tie, then it gives you the ability, I think, to talk to the caucus and let them know that you think things might need to be a little different in order to secure that vote, and that's a very important posture to be in.
NNAMDIJeannemarie Davis, hoping if she gets elected lieutenant governor not to have to cast a whole lot of tie-breaking votes. She's a Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, former member of the Virginia Senate whose district included parts of Fairfax County. Jeannemarie Davis, thank you so much for joining us.
DAVISThank you. It was great to be here.
SHERWOODThank you. And you would be the first female lieutenant governor, are you?
DAVISYes, I would be.
SHERWOODOK. Thank you.
NNAMDIIt's The Politics Hour. Tom Sherwood is our resident analyst. He's an NBC 4 reporter and a columnist for The Current Newspapers. Tom Sherwood, what was going on between Ward 8 councilmember and now Council Chairman Phil Mendelson -- Ward 8 councilmember Marion Barry and Phil Mendelson -- over Ward 8 Councilmember Barry's determination to try to get greater legal protections for ex-criminal offenders?
SHERWOODWell, the short story is Mayor Barry was doing his initiation of every council chairman.
NNAMDIIt's an initiation right.
SHERWOODYes, an initiation. He fought with and battled with Vince Gray when he was a chairman. He fought with and battled with Linda Cropp when she was chairman, and that's Marion Barry making -- but, you know, he has a serious point and that he says the city needs to do a lot more about returning citizens, the polite way of talking about ex-offenders, people who have served their prison time to jail terms and have a hard time getting jobs.
SHERWOODMendelson thought that, two things, one, that the bill was granting a new, basic civil rights of aggrieved class to returning citizens and then wanted it more discussed. And Barry did (unintelligible) on the committee calling a recess. And then, as soon as Mendelson left the room, he called the committee back into session and voted for his bill. But the full council, as we all expected, supported the chairman on the dais, and the bill went nowhere. But it was just Marion Barry being the expert policy (unintelligible).
NNAMDITelling Phil Mendelson, I'm here, OK?
SHERWOODYes. Don't forget that I'm right here.
NNAMDIHow -- what is the process, Tom Sherwood, for selecting the individual who will temporarily hold the at-large seat that was vacated by now Council Chairman Phil Mendelson?
SHERWOODWell, we all get in a circle and run around three times around the pear tree. Bow to the east and bow to the west and then somebody will come pop out of the top the tree. I think it's something like that.
NNAMDISeems like a pretty fair system to me.
SHERWOODIt's based on what we're about to hear. Maybe it will be.
NNAMDIIt is a process that will be undertaken by the Democratic State Committee -- the D.C. Democratic State Committee. And now, joining us in studio is Anita Bonds. She is the current chair of the D.C. Democratic State committee. She is also a candidate for that at-large seat that the state committee will be making a decision on us. Anita Bonds, thank you for joining us.
MS. ANITA BONDSOh, thank you for having me.
NNAMDIAlso with us in studio is John Capozzi, another candidate for this at-large seat. John Capozzi, thank you for joining us.
MR. JOHN CAPOZZIThank you, Kojo.
NNAMDIAnd Doug Sloan rounds out the trio as the third candidate for the seat. Doug Sloan, thank you for joining us.
MR. DOUG SLOANThank you, and good afternoon.
SHERWOODOh, I apologize. I didn't mean to step on...
NNAMDIYes, can you -- yes, you didn't know that.
SHERWOODGive us a serious answer, the D.C. Democratic State Committee is meeting Monday night and to vote on who will fill the seat until April -- until the special election, April 23, for this is Phil Mendelson's at-large seat.
NNAMDIAnita Bonds, I'll turn the heat on on you first.
NNAMDII recall that back in 2004, 2005, former Virginia Gov. Doug Wilder headed a commission to see how the mayor of Richmond should be voted on. He was previously selected by the council. Wilder's commission came up with an at-large run, and, strangely enough, Doug Wilder himself offered himself up as the candidate for that.
NNAMDIOne remembers Dick Cheney being head of a commission to look for a vice presidential candidate for George W. Bush. He came up with himself. Now, the D.C. Democratic Sate Committee is looking for someone to fill an at-large seat and you, as the chair of the committee, have decided that you want this seat. Why should people not believe that, as in the previous two cases they believe, the fix is in?
BONDSThe fix is not in. These -- you know, across the country, governors frequently have the opportunity to fill vacant seats in the political arena. And many times they select themselves, but that's one individual. In this particular instance, the D.C. charter gives the authority to the party and the Democratic Party, and that's that we're doing. We're executing our responsibilities. And any Democrat in the District of Columbia is eligible.
BONDSWe thought, as a party, it would be very useful for a member of the party to have an opportunity to serve on the council. This will be a first time we've had ANC commissioners. We've had, you know, luminaries, but this is the first time that we would have a sitting member of the party to serve.
NNAMDIThe perception is that you are the most influential sitting member of the party and that, therefore, whoever runs against you in that situation is at a distinct disadvantage. Why are these two gentlemen not at a disadvantage?
BONDSWell, each of them will tell you that they are either a party member or a former party member. In the Democratic Party, we invite everyone to participate, and everyone has an opportunity. I'm just a individual. I am not the party. I'm one of 80 members elected by the Democratic voters of the District of Columbia. So you don't want me to be denied my rights, and therefore my right is to run. And I am running, and I hope to win.
NNAMDIIf you have comments or questions for any of these candidates, this is an unusual procedure. We usually interview people who are running in a general election. However, we figured you might want to know who these individuals are and have questions for them. So 800-433-8850 is the number to call, or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
SHERWOODWe're going to get to the other candidates very quickly, but I do want to ask you, Anita. You have been an active person in the city politics for 25 years, maybe 30.
SHERWOODYou've always worked hard for candidates that you support. You've done a lot of things, but you've never stepped out front. Why did you decide that you wanted to be on the council as opposed to influencing the council and all the things you've done for the last 30-plus years?
BONDSWell, you know, I've spent a lot of time advocating to women that it's important that we get more involved. And when you look at the membership of today's city council, it is far short of the number of women that reflect the population.
SHERWOODAre there two?
SHERWOODOh, there are three.
BONDSIt's three, three of 13. And I thought that it's time for me, as a strong advocate, to step out there. You know, hopefully, we'll get a woman, and then we are on our way to maybe getting more women on the council.
NNAMDIDoug Sloan, why should the Democratic State Committee select you to be the next at-large councilmember? What is the vision for the city that you offer, this rapidly gentrifying city, that would cause them to select you?
SLOANWell, I think that, given the current political climate, that it's important that we, as Democratic State Committee members, elect someone that can be a strong, ethical voice for good government and progressive change in the city council. I feel that my wealth of experience of working as a -- an analyst, legislative analyst on the judiciary committee, for working for Mayor Anthony Williams as an outreach coordinator, also working on numerous campaigns.
SLOANI was campaign manager for Vincent Orange. I worked for Adrian Fenty. I've been an ANC commissioner for over 10 years. I'm currently vice president of the NAACP D.C. branch and former vice president of the D.C. Young Democrats and the Ward 4 Democrats. So I bring a wealth of experience to this position. I am anxious to get out there and bring my vision of a strong, united city that is going to focus on its -- generating revenue from the inside instead -- through green energy.
SLOANMy whole vision is to bring a green energy plant to D.C. so that we can focus on generating revenue and exporting goods and services instead of relying on tickets and fees and taxes, which we all have too much of, to generate our revenue. And I'm anxious to get out there and knock on doors and bring my case to the people.
NNAMDIJohn Capozzi, you served as the second District of Columbia shadow U.S. representative between 1995 and 1997, and you were a former at-large member of the District of Columbia Democratic State Committee. Why are you now turning to that committee again to ask it to support you as an at-large councilmember?
CAPOZZIWell, a couple of reasons, Kojo. I wanted to bring some ideas to this council race. I wanted to make sure that people knew about this process because you outlined it, I think, fairly clearly in terms of what it's like. But I think a couple of things. We should talk about why we need to have more District residents work in the D.C. government. You know, 60 to 70 percent of those people in the government now live outside the city.
CAPOZZIRight now, if you apply for a job as a D.C. resident, you had a 10-point preference. Why not change that to 20 or 25 points and actually get more people in the government? But when you talk about this process, I mean, I think you can -- you've kind of outlined it fairly correctly. But the fact is that they're hoping to vote as a secret ballot. Democratic Party nationally says every ballot has to be open.
CAPOZZIThey decided in secret how the process was going to be held and when it was going to be held. You know, this is just the way the Democratic Party has done it. I actually liked Anita defend the right of the party to appoint someone, but I think if you do it correctly, then people will benefit from that choice. So, for example, in 1997 when we did this, Arrington Dixon got the nomination. We held a roll call vote. We had six rounds of voting. Everybody said who they voted for, and the election was held after six rounds, and he won. That's not the plan for Monday night.
SHERWOODWell, can we just ask what the plan is? Is it required to have a secret ballot...
SHERWOOD...or a public ballot? And...
BONDSIt's called an open ballot. That's the requirement, and that's what we'll have. And the open ballot process that will be used will be each member of the party will be called forward to get their ballot. There will be a number beside their name, and their ballot will also be numbered. And that's the process that has been used over the last 12, 15 years. That's the process. And the...
SHERWOODAnd all 80 members are eligible? There are 80 members?
BONDSAll 80 members are eligible to cast a ballot, yes, and the...
SLOANI think it's 79...
BONDS...the openness of the whole process can be viewed by anyone who cares to attend on Monday night. It will be at Catholic University in the Caldwell Building. They're -- I think it's at 600 block of Michigan Avenue, Northeast. But let me just say, the, you know, about the party. You know, I'm not here to talk about the party. I'm trying very hard to be a candidate and outside of that. But the party has not only followed its own bylaws, but the bylaws of the DNC.
SHERWOODDemocratic National Committee.
BONDSThat is correct. And John knows very well that this is not a secret process. He has attended the last two meetings, last monthly meetings, October, November. He was there when all of the plans were laid out. So he knows that it is not a secret process. Nothing has happened in the backroom, but he chooses to make that his issue. But let me talk a little bit…
CAPOZZIWhen, Anita, I attended the last couple of meetings that you mentioned...
NNAMDIOne second. One second.
BONDSLet me talk a little bit about...
NNAMDILet me have him respond to that, then we...
NNAMDI...really need to get into what your feelings are about some of the issues for a second in the city.
CAPOZZIYou know, when we have open meetings for the Democratic Party, we expected the Democratic State Committee. In all the 17 years I served, they made decisions in public. People would debate. They voted. And they've -- they debated and voted to have this election on Jan. 3. And then at a secret executive or some other kind of committee within the state committee, they voted to change it to Dec. 10, shorten the process. And as you can see, only three people decided to run. We're all insiders.
NNAMDIBut you did make that decision, so you have acceded to the process, I suspect.
CAPOZZIWell, actually, that's true, and the interesting thing is that having acceded to the process, the process continually changes during the time of the process itself. I mean, they just decided, two days ago, where the vote would be. And they actually -- after six years as chair, Anita, that's the time that you've been chairperson?
BONDSI'm 5 1/2.
CAPOZZIFive and a half years. Yesterday, they updated the website with every member and all their email addresses. So if you go to the D.C. Democratic Party website here in D.C., you can see the members, their email addresses and ask them who they're voting for.
NNAMDIThe point, though, is that you are in it to win it, and if you do win it, you'll be raising money and mounting a campaign to keep your seat while you'll be serving on an interim basis. This question -- I guess I'll start with you, John Capozzi -- what kinds of campaign finance reforms do you think are necessary for the council to take?
CAPOZZIWell, I've asked all the candidates not to take corporate money, for example. And, you know, I know that that's something that I feel strongly about. There has been an undue influence. I mean, we had the decision by the Supreme Court which has allowed unlimited money into our campaigns, which I don't think the Democratic Party is supportive of. So, for example, Ms. Bonds works for one of the city's largest contractors. She shouldn't take corporate money. I'm vowing not to take corporate money. I ask her to take same pledge.
SHERWOODWell, what about you, Mr. Sloan? Do you think that's a good -- is that a campaign gimmick to not take corporate money 'cause it's certainly illegal to do so? Or do you think it's a serious moral issue given the ethics of the city?
SLOANI think it is a valid issue, the fact that we have corporations that are doing business with the city directly contributing to the people that make laws on the city council that affects how they do business obviously raises serious ethical and moral issues. And I -- If I decide to get to into this campaign after the appointment process, I wouldn't have any problem with that. I would back that up 110 percent.
SHERWOODWell, you know, some people said, well, why not be just -- if you're a ward councilmember, you just simply wait for the special elections. Is that correct? There's no...
SLOANYes. That's correct it.
SHERWOOD...point to it into -- but it seems to me, given the ward issues, you ought to have an appointee for a ward more so than an at-large member who doesn't have the same constituent servicing.
SHERWOODWhy not just eliminate this and just let -- let's just have a special election, you know, pardon me, Anita, for saying this -- but, you know, that's not a very nice view or opinion of the state committee -- Democratic State Committee that's it's more of an infighting community than it is a policy-making community. I mean, when's the last time you guys took a vote on something about public policy issue, housing issues or anything?
BONDSOr the ethics...
BONDS...reform. We did take it a position.
SHERWOODI mean, why does the -- why does 80 -- why do 80 people, which most of us could not name half of them, get to decide who's going to be a sitting councilmember and vote in the crucial part of the government when they deal with the next year's budget?
BONDSWell, you know, we have to look at the D.C. charter. It is...
SHERWOODOh, I know. I know it's in the charter, but...
SHERWOOD...why not change the charter and let the people decide who's going to represent them, not 80 members, 79 members of this Democratic State Committee, which -- would you support that, not this time but next time?
BONDSYeah. I would support it at any time. It -- it's very cumbersome and difficult for a body to make these kinds of decisions, especially when we have such a small jurisdiction. And the -- but the problem is twofold. It is the -- it's in our charter. You know how rules or bills are made in the District of Columbia. You know we have to go through the congressional process. Then you have the issue of money.
BONDSYou have the issue of money, you know, our budget and how that process is handled for paying for elections. And particularly, as Mr. Sloan said, in this atmosphere, where we seem to have, you know, issues that must be dealt with on an on-going basis.
SHERWOODWhat about the corporate thing that John Capozzi raises about not accepting a corporate money?
NNAMDIYour employer is the Fort Myer Construction Corporation, which reportedly is the District's government primary road paving contractor, raises a lot of issues about, A, whether you'll accept corporate contributions, B, if you are, in fact, appointed to this position and do run for it, will you resign your position with your job?
BONDSWell, the issue of accepting corporate contributions, I think, is still being explored by the council. And I'm sure if I'm successful with the appointed position, I have an opportunity to speak to that. But on a personal basis...
NNAMDIWhat will you say when you speak to it?
BONDSWell, on a personal basis, you know, I'll tell you from the Democratic Party's standpoint, when it -- when we, as Democrats, particularly those involved with the DNC activities, first learned that, well, we're not going to take corporate contributions, we thought it was going to be a very difficult run. But you and I know, if you look at the finance reports of President Obama's run, it has ended up being one of the most costly and one -- most lucrative efforts (unintelligible).
SHERWOODWait. That -- we're almost out of time, excuse me. Will you -- what is your position?
BONDSMy answer is that my position is that I agree with that.
SHERWOODAgree with what, that you would not take corporate money?
BONDSYes. I do. Mm hmm.
BONDSPersonally, I would do that, yes. But I'm going to follow the law whatever the law is. Yes.
NNAMDIIf you are appointed to the position, will you separate ties with Fort Myer Construction Corporation?
BONDSIf I'm appointed, I probably will do, you know, take a leave of absence. If I am successful in winning the position permanently, then I will mostly likely resign.
NNAMDIYou left some wiggle room there, probably and mostly likely.
BONDSWell, no probably in the sense that, you know, all of this is based on how my efforts to gain the seat in, OK? And so that's why I say that. But, no, that's my intention.
SHERWOODAnd then whoever comes in -- is it whoever wins, you have to have -- what majority do you have to have, say, 79 people come?
BONDSYou have 50 percent plus one, plus one vote.
SHERWOODThe people who would show up.
BONDSYes, of those presently voting.
NNAMDIWe do have a caller on the line. Put on your headphones, please, because Michael in Washington, D.C., wants to address a specific issue, and we don't have a lot of time. So, Michael, go ahead, please.
MICHAELGood afternoon. I'm calling about the Second Amendment Right and where the councils or the officials stood on the Second Amendment and the right security outside the home.
NNAMDIAre you talking about handguns or all arms?
NNAMDIWhere do you stand on handguns, John Capozzi?
CAPOZZII was happy with the ban on handguns in the city. The Supreme Court overruled that. I think Phil Mendelson has done a great job in trying to do it. But the more we can limit handguns in our city, the better off we're going to be.
SLOANI am a strong gun control advocate in this city. I grew up in the city when it was the murder capital. Guns are made to kill people, so I am in favor of strong gun laws in any urban environment.
BONDSI would like to ditto the comments of both of my opponents because, as you say, guns kill people. I am totally against guns. I do not feel that there is a place for them in this city, in this community.
SHERWOODAre you asking my...
NNAMDIMichael, thanks for your call.
SHERWOODYou're asking my position on guns?
NNAMDINo, I'm asking you for the next question.
SHERWOODWell, I -- will you guys stand -- after Monday night, will you stand together whoever wins? Are you -- John, you and Mr. Sloan, you both have been so critical of the process. Will you turn your back on the process and then maybe run in April 23 election, or you say, OK, I did my best in this point? Will you stand with Anita if she win? And, Anita, would you stand with either of these gentlemen if they win?
BONDSI will, definitely.
SLOANWell, I have been critical of the process. Let's just say that.
SLOANThat's John that's been more critical to the process. I am a member of the committee. I've been a member of the committee for the last couple years. And, well, yeah, I will sit down and talk with whoever wins and discuss...
SHERWOODNo, that's not -- that's unlawful.
SLOANWell, no, no, discuss our...
SHERWOODNo waffles. We don't serve waffles at this program.
SLOANWe'll discuss our points to understand and make sure that we're both on the same page, moving the same direction. I -- if we're in the same direction, then I will support them 110 percent.
SHERWOODThat's a waffle.
CAPOZZILast night in the committee meeting was fascinating to hear Vincent Orange say that we should stand behind the person who's nominated on Monday night when -- after he won actually a year ago and lost to Sekou Biddle in the exact same process, he turned around and ran against Sekou in the election. So I have an open mind as to what I'm going to do. I'll decide that once it's over on Monday.
SLOANBut in full disclosure, you've picked up your petitions, right, John?
CAPOZZII picked up on my petitions on Wednesday. It's the first that you can pick up, yes.
SHERWOODI think that Monday is just going to be a pit stop on the way to April 23 if you have me say something.
NNAMDIJohn Capozzi, you talked early about D.C. residents getting jobs. And a lot of people say they would love to be D.C. residents, they just can't afford it. How would you make housing more affordable in the city?
CAPOZZIWell, there's a couple things. First of all, I live in Hillcrest...
NNAMDIWe have about 30 seconds.
CAPOZZII live in Hillcrest across the bridge. I invite people to come over and take a look, 250-, $300,000 houses, full yards, people looking to have you move in. And I think we could use new neighbors. So there are plenty of places affordable in this city. You'd -- you have to take a look, and I'd be happy to help guide people on that process. And we do need more affordable housing. There's a housing trust fund, we can fully fund that.
NNAMDIJohn Capozzi, he is a Democratic candidate for an at-large seat on the council. Thank you so much for joining us, John Capozzi. Doug Sloan, same, Democratic candidate for an at-large seat. Thank you for joining us.
NNAMDIAnd Anita Bonds, in addition to being a candidate, is the chair -- current chair of the D.C. Democratic State Committee. Thank you for joining us.
SHERWOODI know I only have 30 seconds. But if they are expired terms -- I don't want to get too detailed conversation in 10 seconds. But can -- all the terms expired -- can the person still vote if their term is expired? Yes or no.
NNAMDIOn the D.C. state committee?
SHERWOODThere's some confusion about number of terms of expire.
NNAMDIOK. And it all takes place on Dec. 10, correct?
SLOANAt 7 p.m. Thanks for having me.
NNAMDIThank you all for listening. You may want to observe the process yourself. You are welcome to do so. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
Most Recent Shows
Lifelong Washingtonian and community advocate Theresa Howe Jones passed away last week at the age of 84. She leaves a legacy of meaningful work in the Anacostia neighborhood and in D.C. as a whole.
A new study explains the effects of rising sea levels in coastal regions, including Maryland's Eastern Shore, and parts of Virginia. What are cities in our region doing to combat these events?
The dining staples you'd expect to find on the street or in diners are becoming more and more upscale in the District of Columbia. What does that signal about the city to its longtime residents?