Maryland’s gubernatorial candidates debate, on the heels of a poll that indicates their race is closing. D.C. lawmakers push forward new regulations for Uber, and taxi cab drivers organize a caravan to protest. And action at the Supreme Court opens the door for the performance of same-sex marriages in Virginia. 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
  • Daniel Bongino Republican Candidate, U.S. House of Representatives (Md, 6th District)
  • Khalid Pitts Independent Candidate, D.C. Council (At-Large)

Watch Live Video

Tune in at 12 p.m. Friday, Oct. 10, for live streaming video of The Politics Hour.


  • 12:06:40

    MR. KOJO NNAMDIFrom WAMU 88.5, at American University, in Washington, welcome to "The Politics Hour," starring Tom Sherwood. I'm Kojo Nnamdi. That rumbling sound you hear is the stampeded of couples taking advantage of the Supreme Court's decision not to weigh in on same-sex marriage ban in Virginia, the ruling by an appeals court. And so a whole lot of people were running to get married during the past few days. Tom Sherwood joins us in studio. He is our resident analyst. He's an NBC 4 reporter and a columnist for the Current Newspapers.

  • 12:07:24

    MR. KOJO NNAMDITom, a lot of people were apparently waiting for this decision, one way or the other, before making up their minds that they were going to get married. And once the Supreme Court says, well, we're not touching this, they were gone, off and running.

  • 12:07:36

    MR. TOM SHERWOODThat's true. Well, you know, the Supreme Court last Monday -- this past Monday, you know, chose not to continue these delays in the states that had -- federal courts had ruled. And it was -- now by these -- I think now it's almost 30 states now where same-sex marriage will be legal. And people are saying if the Supreme Court didn't take action now, how could it later come back and rule in a case and say these marriages are not legal and that it's okay to ban them?

  • 12:08:10

    MR. TOM SHERWOODI mean, there will be just tens of thousands of same-sex couples married. So even conservatives are shaking their heads, but saying it looks like the Supreme Court's headed towards legalizing same-sex marriage, just as it did interracial marriage in 1967. I mean, only 16 states at the time still banned interracial marriage in -- what -- 1967 or '68, in the Loving v. Virginia case. And the Supreme Court ruled it illegal to ban interracial marriage.

  • 12:08:43

    NNAMDIEarlier in the week we talked with Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, who not only refused to defend the ban, he weighed in against same-sex marriage himself, joining with people…

  • 12:08:53

    SHERWOODYou mean, for. He weighed in for.

  • 12:08:54

    NNAMDIHe weighed in for same-sex marriage himself.

  • 12:08:56

    SHERWOODWe don't want the attorney general calling us.

  • 12:08:58

    NNAMDIWell, I was about to say that I think he went to more weddings this past week than he's ever went to in his entire life. I suspect that when we were talking to him on Monday he was getting ready to attend a wedding. I think he is in this because he likes weddings.

  • 12:09:12

    SHERWOODWell, you know, there are only so many weddings you can really go to. I mean, but, you know, he did say -- Mark Herring called it, "A new day has arrived in Virginia." Tim Kaine, the senator, said this, "We celebrate the end to discriminatory constitutional ban in Virginia." Mark Warner, who's in a campaign for reelection, said, "This ruling strengthens our families and communities."

  • 12:09:35

    SHERWOODThe Republican House leader, Bill Howell, from Stafford, though, he said he was disappointed, that he still believed in the traditional view of marriage. And Governor Terry McAuliffe when a step further and ordered all state agencies to recognize same-sex marriages. And it's just not the right for people to get married, but, you know, this is tax returns, visitation rights in a hospital if you're sick, adoption, health decisions. It's a broad socially important decision that the Supreme Court has allowed to go forward.

  • 12:10:06

    NNAMDIJoining us in studio is Daniel Bongino. He's a Republican candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives. He's running for the seat in Maryland's 6th District. Daniel Bongino, thank you so much for joining us.

  • 12:10:17

    MR. DANIEL BONGINOGreat to be here.

  • 12:10:18

    NNAMDIGoing to talk about another issue before we get to your candidacy because I figured you want to weigh in on this, since it has to…

  • 12:10:23

    SHERWOODCan he weigh in on this, though, on the Supreme Court?

  • 12:10:25

    NNAMDIOh, well, yes. But I was about to get gerrymandering. But how do you feel about the Supreme Court's refusal to weigh in on the ban being overturned in Virginia?

  • 12:10:35

    BONGINOI'm tend to take a Libertarian perspective on this. I don't know why the government is involved in the marriage business. Now, I understand the argument, which you -- which Tom was talking about, which is, you know, listen it's a legitimate complaint to say, "Well, there are certain benefits, a number of them, which are extended to, you know, heterosexual couples that aren't extended to homosexual couples." And that's reasonable.

  • 12:10:58

    BONGINOBut I don't think the answer is to inject government more into the marriage business. I think it's to revise our tax code and make it so that people can engage in, you know, voluntary relationships however they please.

  • 12:11:08

    NNAMDIIf you have questions or comments for Daniel Bongino, call us at 800-433-8850 or send email to The U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of Virginia ruled that the Virginia General Assembly must draw new Congressional maps by mid-April because -- according to the 102-page opinion -- the Washington Post reports the current maps concentrate African American voters into a single district at that expense of their influence elsewhere. This is an interesting question because on the one hand, people in the past did not want to…

  • 12:11:45


  • 12:11:46

    NNAMDI…dilute the influence of African American voters. And so by being concentrated in one district, Representative Bobby Scott has a seat that is virtually a guaranteed seat. He's African American. He's a Democrat. That's African Americans tend to vote. But apparently by drawing the districts in this way and putting all the African Americans in one district, you reduce their possible influence in other races around the city.

  • 12:12:08

    SHERWOODRight. That's the counterintuitive feeling because when African Americans were shut out in general, it didn't matter. And then when states were forced, through the Federal Voting Rights Act, among other things, to change the laws, people -- legislators grouped African Americans together to give them some power. Now, the problem is…

  • 12:12:27


  • 12:12:27

    SHERWOOD…that you've over-grouped. And so that's a significant change. It's -- and it just shows how important the African American vote is. And the court -- the Eastern District Federal Court ruled, you know, you cannot, essentially, segregate the African American voters into areas where they can only have influence in the immediate area and not have broad influence, as they do, across the country. Pretty interesting ruling. Now, the problem now is that Virginia legislature has to redraw the maps. And they have until April to do it.

  • 12:13:02

    SHERWOODIf the Republicans -- and the Virginia legislature mirrors a lot like Congress. If the Republicans and Democrats down there don't figure out exactly what to do, they could end up leaving it to the courts to draw the lines. So there's a lot of pressure on everyone to redraw these lines and to do it fairly quickly.

  • 12:13:19

    NNAMDIDaniel Bongino, I'd like you to weigh in because in Maryland some would say the shoe is on the other foot, so to speak.

  • 12:13:24

    BONGINOWell, you've summed it up nicely. The exact opposite argument was used in Maryland with the gerrymandering, although it benefitted the Democrats. We had six and two, six Democrats, two Republicans. They got rid of Roscoe Bartlett, now it's seven and one due to a gerrymander. Both parties do this. Ironically, there was a bipartisan coalition to have these lines thrown out because Prince George's County was split up.

  • 12:13:49

    BONGINOSo you're absolutely right. You can look at it two ways. Either you're concentrating the power of largely minority communities in Prince George's County or you're splitting it up and diluting it so the shoe was on the other foot in Maryland, right in Virginia's backyard.

  • 12:14:03

    SHERWOODAnd the Supreme Court, you should -- we should note, there is a case already on gerrymandering. Gerrymandering sounds like some kind of cheap actor. But the Supreme Court accepted the case out of Alabama for the way the lines were drawn. So we could have a ruling from the Supreme Court on this, which could affect many more states.

  • 12:14:22

    NNAMDIAnd it's really relevant in this conversation because, Daniel Bongino, the last time we spoke to you in this broadcast you were running for the Senate against Ben Cardin in 2012. This time you're running for a Congressional seat that belonged to Republicans up until two years ago…

  • 12:14:36


  • 12:14:36

    NNAMDI…when the boundaries for the district were redrawn. And as a result, Roscoe Bartlett lost his seat to John Delaney, who you're running against this time. Why are you running?

  • 12:14:47

    BONGINOWell, listen, it's simple. I like Wheaties-box messaging, Kojo. If you can't stick it on a Wheaties box and read it, you have no business running. It always reminds me of Teddy Kennedy when they asked him why he was running for president and he couldn't answer the question right away.

  • 12:14:58

    NNAMDICouldn't answer the question. The first question he was asked.

  • 12:14:59

    BONGINOI kind of feel bad for him. Yeah, but it's simple. I just think you can spend your money better than the government. There's fair tax rates out there. I think you should control your health care. I think we're moving in the other direction, sadly. And I am an avid supporter, staunch supporter of school choice. You should pick where your kids go to school. You pay for it. And that -- those are really my three -- if I had to triage my issues, those are my top three right there. Of course I have a position on…

  • 12:15:20

    SHERWOODWhat does a congressman doing with school choice?

  • 12:15:25

    BONGINOWell, you have a -- I think we could devolve a lot of the $50 billion spent in the Department of Education back to the states. It'd be nice to get a billion dollars per state back into school-choice type programs so people in failing school districts can send their kids to schools that actually work. You know, I don't know any other area where people fight against choice. You don't want to buy one kind of car, right? Nobody likes the Lada in Russia.

  • 12:15:45

    SHERWOODWe just spoke of the redistricting and how Roscoe Bartlett, among other reasons, lost because of the redistricting. But you're -- you have a very conservative agenda. You were in Hagerstown. Who had that debate or forum yesterday in Hagerstown?

  • 12:16:01

    BONGINOYeah, that Chamber of Commerce up there.

  • 12:16:02

    SHERWOODChamber of Commerce. A fairly conservative part of the district, I think.

  • 12:16:05


  • 12:16:07

    SHERWOODYou said things -- if the Associated Press is correct -- you will never vote to raise taxes while you're in Congress. John Delaney, the incumbent Congressman, says that is a reason why the Congress is gridlocked, because people take I will not do this, I will not do that stands. What's your response to his criticism of your "I will never raise taxes?"

  • 12:16:31

    BONGINOWell, I think he's wrong. The tax rates are high enough now. We're at 39.6 for a top marginal rate. That's just the federal level. I mean, are you really getting 40 percent worth of your money at the top margin? What are they doing? Is someone collecting your garbage every day?

  • 12:16:45

    SHERWOODBut what if somebody would cut taxes for corporations or to a real corporate tax level and do 2 -- 10 different things that would cut the deficit in different ways and cut taxes in different ways, but would want to raise in one other area, you would have to say no to that. A 10 to 1 opportunity would be lost.

  • 12:17:07

    BONGINOWell, when I say I'm not going raise your taxes, of course we're talking about on net. I mean…

  • 12:17:11

    SHERWOODOh, no. You didn't say on net, though. But you are -- you mean on net?

  • 12:17:12

    BONGINOWell, I assume that's what…

  • 12:17:14

    SHERWOODSo you would negotiate tax.

  • 12:17:16

    BONGINORight. Because I'm a supporter of the fair tax, which would mean you would eliminate the income tax, but you would have to, necessarily rate, you know, raise the national sales tax. I mean, there's no other way to do it. But on…

  • 12:17:25

    SHERWOODEliminate the income tax?

  • 12:17:27

    BONGINOWhat's that?

  • 12:17:27

    SHERWOODEliminate the income tax?

  • 12:17:28

    BONGINOYeah, the income tax has been a disaster.

  • 12:17:31

    NNAMDIYes. He is for the consumption tax, is what you call it.

  • 12:17:33

    BONGINOYeah, I -- absolutely.

  • 12:17:35

    NNAMDI800-433-8850. Our guest is Daniel Bongino. He's a Republican candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives. He's running for the seat in Maryland's 6th District. You and your opponent disagree on immigration. John Delaney has said he favors offering the undocumented path to citizenship and that it would be immoral to go forward with mass deportations. You say there is a path to citizenship and it's called citizenship, the path your wife followed.

  • 12:18:01

    BONGINOYeah, my wife was an immigrant. And, you know, I really take offense when people start using words like it's immoral. Well, immoral in what? In a vacuum? You know, my wife and I spent -- what -- 10 years, $10,000 on lawyers for her to go through the process legally, to, you know, to establish a legal residency in the United States and then get citizenship. How is that -- isn't immoral for then to -- for you to give a spot then to someone else who just ignored those rules?

  • 12:18:30

    BONGINOI'm not saying the rules are fair. I'm not saying the rules are -- don't need to be remodeled for current times, for labor markets. But what I am saying is if you're going to set up a set of rules in the United States and we all raise our right hand and agree to follow them, then we don't just get to pick and choose. I mean, I object to certain provisions in Obamacare, but I'm a citizen of the United States. I have to follow it. I don't have a choice. You know, I support decriminalizing marijuana. It doesn't mean I grow plants in my yard.

  • 12:18:55

    NNAMDIWell, by implication, you're saying that if elected you would commit to the attempt to deport 11 million people?

  • 12:19:01

    BONGINONo. That -- listen, that's not possible. I'm the only person in the race, okay, who actually deported someone. I was a federal agent. The assets are not there to deport 11 million people. But using the argument that…

  • 12:19:12

    SHERWOODYou only mean you don't want to do it because you can't do it or would you do it if you could?

  • 12:19:17

    BONGINONo. The way it's done now is what -- we don't -- ICE doesn't -- as far as I know. I was a Secret Service Agent -- doesn't actively, you know, hunt down people who are here illegally, who don't -- if they haven't committed a crime. But if you wind up in the criminal justice system and you're here illegally, you're deported. That's what happened in my case. So you can't say, you know, just because there aren't the assets to do it.

  • 12:19:36

    BONGINOI mean, there aren't the assets to stop homicide either, but that doesn't say, you know, we make it legal. It's still a crime to be here illegally. If you're caught, yes, you will be deported. I mean, there has to be some incentive for you to follow the legal process.

  • 12:19:48

    SHERWOODHow would you then address the issue because not everyone can spend $10,000 in 10 years to become a naturalized citizen, and you don't want to open up a pathway to citizenship as broadly as Mr. Delaney does. So what would you do?

  • 12:20:07

    BONGINOWell, you have to come here legally and follow the rules. And the legal system should be modeled on...

  • 12:20:13

    SHERWOODYou said you would change the rules to make it may be easier, I think you did just say that, you would make some modifications to it so it wouldn't have to be 10 years and $10,000. So how would somebody do it? Are we a welcoming country or not?

  • 12:20:25

    BONGINONo, the process is tough. My wife went through it. It was amazing.

  • 12:20:30

    NNAMDIShouldn't it be tough?

  • 12:20:32

    BONGINOIn some cases it should. I think...

  • 12:20:36

    SHERWOODKeep those Canadians out.

  • 12:20:38

    BONGINONo, there is some areas that are labor-sensitive, I mean, there are ag markets, our engineering fields, where we could use people and probably streamline the process. If you have capital assets you want to relocate to the United States, if you want to invest in the United States, sure, we should be sensitive to that, the economic, financial markets, labor markets. But yeah, it should be a little tough for some.

  • 12:20:58

    BONGINOI mean, we can't absorb 15, 20 million people a year in -- we just can't. We don't have the ability...

  • 12:21:05

    SHERWOODWhy not?

  • 12:21:06

    BONGINOBecause who's going to...

  • 12:21:08

    SHERWOODHuge county, we -- companies are beginning for jobs.

  • 12:21:11


  • 12:21:11

    SHERWOODParticularly people are in high-tech industry jobs. And people come here, get educated, and then they go back to their country because there's no citizenship here for them.

  • 12:21:19

    BONGINOYeah, but you're ignoring something here.

  • 12:21:22

    SHERWOODI don't ignore anything.

  • 12:21:23

    BONGINOYou can't view this in a vacuum. Milton Friedman said it best. You can have one or the other. You can open borders, or you can have a welfare state. You can't have both. We don't have...

  • 12:21:32

    SHERWOODI don't know of anybody's who's saying open. Who advocates for open borders?

  • 12:21:36

    BONGINOWell, you just asked me why we can't accept 15 million people a year, and, well, that would effectively be a de facto open border. We don't have the assets. Listen, this is a zero-sum game, seats in schools in Montgomery County. I mean, these, these are -- it's a zero-sum game. Only one person can go in the seat. If you're going to just absorb everybody, and you don't have to fund the actual schools, then that creates kind of an economic problem, don't you think?

  • 12:21:59

    NNAMDIIf you want to watch a live video stream of this conversation, you can go to our website, You can ask a question and make a comment there. You can also send email to or just call us at 800-433-8850, which is what John in Frederick, Maryland did. He wants to talk about Obamacare. John, you are on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 12:22:19

    JOHNGood afternoon. I was just wondering whether you thought Ted Cruz was right to shut down the government to prevent the ACA from going into effect.

  • 12:22:31

    BONGINOWell, I don't agree with your statement.

  • 12:22:32

    SHERWOODThat's the Affordable Care Act.

  • 12:22:34

    BONGINOHow did Ted -- tell me how Ted Cruz shut down the government. He's -- they're not even in the majority in the Senate. Is that correct? So how did they do that?

  • 12:22:42

    SHERWOODI think he says he was willing to shut down the government.

  • 12:22:44

    BONGINOWell, he didn't, though. I'm willing to do a lot of things. I'm willing to play for the Orioles tomorrow, but I'm not. How did Ted Cruz shut down the government? The Senate, the Democrats run the Senate.

  • 12:22:54

    JOHNI think this question is pretty self-explanatory...

  • 12:22:57

    BONGINOThe question's wrong. I'm just asking...

  • 12:22:58

    NNAMDIHe would like to ask us, did you agree with Ted Cruz' notion that he would shut down the government rather than allow Obamacare?

  • 12:23:05

    BONGINOWell, I can't speak for Ted Cruz. I think shutting down the government is silly. But if that's your question, my opinion on shutting down the government, but you can't say something that's erroneous. Ted Cruz shut down the government is like saying Cal Ripkin shut down the government. Neither one of them has the power to do it.

  • 12:23:17

    SHERWOODWould you repeal the Affordable Care Act?

  • 12:23:20

    BONGINOYes, absolutely.

  • 12:23:20

    NNAMDIYou would repeal it.

  • 12:23:22

    SHERWOODAnd replace it with what?

  • 12:23:23

    BONGINOWith a system based on patient-centric models. We could've effectively given people cash vouchers to buy the same insurance policies rich people have. We could have given tax benefits to doctors and hospitals to give volunteer care at the best hospitals in the world to people who needed it. I mean, you could've had people...

  • 12:23:41

    NNAMDIBut 7 or 11 million people now signed up for it. Would you still repeal it?

  • 12:23:44

    BONGINOSeven, or 6 million people were canceled, including me. So what happens to them? I had my policy canceled. Again, you can't view this in a vacuum. I understand, Kojo, yes, 7 million people have signed up. There are other ways to get them access to health care without canceling 6 million, of which I was one of them.

  • 12:24:01

    SHERWOODIf people want to read about your -- you're a proud conservative. I think it's obvious from...

  • 12:24:06

    BONGINOMore of a Libertarian.

  • 12:24:07

    SHERWOODYou're a Libertarian?

  • 12:24:09

    BONGINOYeah, definitely more of a Libertarian.

  • 12:24:12

    NNAMDIWell, are you interested...

  • 12:24:12

    SHERWOODAre you for Ron, for Mr. -- Senate, what's his name, the guy who's running for president, maybe, Paul?

  • 12:24:16


  • 12:24:17

    SHERWOODRand Paul. See, I always get, you know, Ron and Rand...

  • 12:24:20

    BONGINOI like Rand.

  • 12:24:20

    SHERWOODOh, okay.

  • 12:24:20

    BONGINOHe's gotten a great reception, even at Berkeley.

  • 12:24:22

    NNAMDIYou describe yourself as a Libertarian, but I'm assuming that you're interested in drawing independents and moderates into today's Sixth District. Don't you need them to win? What do you offer the moderate voter, the undecided voter?

  • 12:24:36

    BONGINOYou want a job? You want your money back? If you want to pay more taxes, I'm not your guy. I'm just going to be honest with you, don't vote for -- if you want to pay higher taxes, do not vote for me, I'm not your guy.

  • 12:24:46

    NNAMDIHow about Angie in Washington, D.C.? She wants to go to another kind of issue entirely. Angie, your turn.

  • 12:24:53

    ANGIEThank you. Hi, I don't live in your district anymore, but my younger sister does, and so I'd like to talk to you about your stance on a woman's right to choose. You know, as a...

  • 12:25:02

    BONGINOChoose what?

  • 12:25:03

    ANGIE...older sister to a young, responsible adult woman, I'd like to know on your stand...

  • 12:25:07

    BONGINOTo choose what?

  • 12:25:07

    ANGIE...on abortion, on birth control and things that she should be able to have access to because she is a responsible young woman.

  • 12:25:18

    BONGINOSo a woman's right to an abortion you're asking me about?

  • 12:25:19

    ANGIERight to abortion, yes.

  • 12:25:20

    BONGINOOkay. Well, I'm pro-life, the exception of rape, incest, life of the mother, health of the mother. That answers that. On birth control, what exactly about birth control are you asking?

  • 12:25:31

    ANGIEDo you think that young women should have access to birth control?

  • 12:25:35


  • 12:25:35

    ANGIEAnd do you think the young woman should -- do you think it is your place to be able to choose a young woman's future like that?

  • 12:25:42

    BONGINOHow? How can a congressman choose a young woman's future? I don't understand your question.

  • 12:25:46

    ANGIEBy restricting abortion.

  • 12:25:47

    BONGINOBy restricting -- you were talking about birth control. Now you're talking about...

  • 12:25:51

    ANGIEBirth control and abortions. I'm doing both.

  • 12:25:51

    BONGINOAbortion's legal, right?

  • 12:25:54

    ANGIEAbortion is legal. Are you going to have a stance on that, though? Are you going to...

  • 12:25:58

    BONGINOYeah, I just said I'm pro-life.

  • 12:25:59

    SHERWOODYou would overturn Roe v. Wade if you could?

  • 12:26:02

    BONGINOWell, I can't overturn -- I'm only in Congress.

  • 12:26:03

    SHERWOODI said if you could, you would...

  • 12:26:04

    BONGINOYeah, I think it should be left like it was, to the states.

  • 12:26:09

    ANGIEAnd what about funding to places like Planned Parenthood? What do you plan to do about that?

  • 12:26:13

    BONGINOMy taxpayer money? They can get funding. They can get it like everyone else. I have to raise money for my campaign. They should raise it for theirs, too. Why should I pay for it?

  • 12:26:19

    NNAMDIAnything else, Angie?

  • 12:26:23

    ANGIENo, I think that's everything. Thank you.

  • 12:26:23

    BONGINOThank you.

  • 12:26:25

    NNAMDIAre you now going to advise your sister on who she should be voting for in this election?

  • 12:26:28

    ANGIEAbsolutely. My younger sister should be able to vote for somebody who respects her right to choose an abortion should she need to.

  • 12:26:36

    BONGINOWell all right.

  • 12:26:36

    SHERWOODCan I follow up? You know, we, you know, abortion is a longstanding issue, of course, since the '73 ruling. But you say that you are against abortion except for the, what was the issue? The rape, incest, what was the third?

  • 12:26:49

    BONGINOLife of the mother. Health of the mother.

  • 12:26:51

    SHERWOODThe life and health. What if a woman simply said for my mental health I need to have an abortion? Or do you just mean physical health? Because a lot of women who have to go through this terrible decision and choose to have an abortion can address the mental health issues if they go through with abortion and that they don't want to do it. But when you say health, do you mean mental and physical health or just physical health, that it might be endangering her life?

  • 12:27:20

    BONGINOWell, I think physical health is pretty self-explanatory.

  • 12:27:25

    SHERWOODRight, but mental health? I mean, if...

  • 12:27:25

    BONGINOWell, it depends. What's your definition of mental health?

  • 12:27:29

    SHERWOODWell, I can say that, if I were a woman, and I said I need to have an abortion because I'm just mentally, emotionally not able to care for a child?

  • 12:27:39

    BONGINOWell how does that, I don't -- that's a pretty broad topic right there.

  • 12:27:42

    SHERWOODWell, it is.

  • 12:27:42

    BONGINOWhen you talk about your personal opinion, or...

  • 12:27:46

    SHERWOODPhysical health, do you mean that you have to be in danger of dying?

  • 12:27:48

    BONGINOYeah, life of the mother. I think that's pretty self-explanatory.

  • 12:27:50


  • 12:27:51

    NNAMDIYou're in favor of term limits for members of Congress. Have you decided how many terms you would serve if elected? Would you pledge a specific number? And one remembers back in 1993 with the Contract with America, when a whole number of congressman coming into Congress in that -- after that election said that they were in favor of term limits and then mysteriously, suddenly changed their minds after they got elected.

  • 12:28:17

    BONGINO(laugh) It's crazy how that happens when they get in power, isn't it? No, I put it out publicly. I put a contract with the citizens out over a year ago. Matter of fact, I just press-released a second version of it. Three terms, six years, Bongino Contract with the Citizens I called it. If you can't get it done in six years, you can't it done. There's no...

  • 12:28:35

    SHERWOODWell, what about the seniority system in Congress? Even with the Republicans in the majority in the House, I worked briefly for a member of Congress, fortunately he lost and now returned to journalism, but three terms, six years, I mean, you will be a back-bencher. You will not even sit near the chairman, much less have any impact on the chairman. How do you get anything done in a House, 435-member House, where everything, everything, everything is based on seniority? Six years, you'll barely have time to unpack your bags.

  • 12:29:04

    BONGINOWell that's not accurate. Not everything's based on seniority. Your 435 voters all have one vote. Now I understand how the committee process works.

  • 12:29:13

    SHERWOODExcuse me, it was accurate. Maybe there are exceptions, but that is accurate. So name one freshman member who got something done that you admire.

  • 12:29:22

    BONGINOWell your -- I think Justin Amash has done quite a bit. I think he's used his microphone to help raise money for causes. He's drawn attention to the NSA scandal. There are a lot of people. I mean, I think that's totally inaccurate.

  • 12:29:35

    SHERWOODOh, you mean beyond passing legislation and just...

  • 12:29:38

    BONGINOWell why is...

  • 12:29:38

    SHERWOODHow -- I'm not saying that's the only thing you do. Obviously a congressman promotes issues and calls attention, shines lights, all that stuff.

  • 12:29:46

    BONGINOSure, I mean, there's constituent services. Is this really what we should be encouraging our members to do, to leverage their relationships with connected D.C. insiders? I mean, that's the problem. I get it.

  • 12:29:55

    SHERWOODWelcome to the American political system. It works the same in every country.

  • 12:29:58

    BONGINOWell, that doesn't make it right. What, so we're not going to improve it? Right now it's who can get a chairman spot and who can kiss the most butts. I'm not interested. That's why I left D.C. I left my job to get away from that.

  • 12:30:13

    NNAMDIHere now is John in Germantown, Maryland. John, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 12:30:17

    JOHNThank you, I have a question for the candidate on gun control. Maryland historically being a liberal Democratic state, I'd like to know the candidate's views on the gun control in Maryland and the possibility of concealed carry in the future.

  • 12:30:35

    BONGINOYeah, I'm an active supporter of your right to protect yourself, always have been. I was a police officer. I was a federal agent. I have a concealed carry permit myself. There are a number of ways to reduce gun violence that actually have, you know, proven metrics. You had the Chicago task force with the federal government that sadly was shut down that reduced gun crime there dramatically.

  • 12:30:55

    BONGINOSadly, the methods we're using now are just silly. I debated Brian Frosh on a different network, and no one had any idea what -- they couldn't even define for me an assault weapon. I said you just passed a law. You guys don't even know what it is? I don't get it. Is there a non-assault weapon? It didn't make any sense to me. So there are ways to do it. Having been in law enforcement, I've seen it. Aggressive policing can do it. But pulling guns away from people who have them legally is just silly.

  • 12:31:21

    SHERWOODI'm sorry, did you say you have a concealed carry license?

  • 12:31:23

    BONGINOI do.

  • 12:31:25

    SHERWOODIs that issued by...

  • 12:31:27

    BONGINOI fall under FLEOSA, the Federal Law Enforcement Officer Safety Act, 12...

  • 12:31:32

    SHERWOODDo you have your gun with you right now?

  • 12:31:33

    BONGINONo, no, I didn't...

  • 12:31:34

    SHERWOODDo you have it in your car?

  • 12:31:37

    BONGINONo, well, I wouldn't say that if I did, somebody might break it, but no.

  • 12:31:39

    NNAMDITom's clearly concerned.

  • 12:31:40

    SHERWOODWell, no, I'm just -- no, I just, in Virginia and other places, what concealed carry. I'm actually more, if you're going to have people carrying guns, I'd like to see them. I think it should be, make them...

  • 12:31:52

    NNAMDIOpen carry.

  • 12:31:52

    SHERWOODYou know, like the Wild West, have holsters so we can see oh, that person has a gun, I'm not going to cut him off in traffic.

  • 12:31:58

    NNAMDIYou are, as you mentioned, a former Secret Service agent. You are troubled, to say the least, by the recent scandal that has enveloped the Secret Service, fence climber, elevator ride, developments in the Cartagena story. You say the Secret Service rank and file have been thrown under the bus. So who's at fault? Where's the problem?

  • 12:32:17

    BONGINOYeah, there are a lot of -- those are three separate issues with three separate solutions, but on Cartagena, that seems to be story de jour, unfortunately. Yeah, the Secret Service has been thrown under the bus here. I'm not -- listen, these guys screwed up. I had friends, family involved in this. This is a very sensitive topic. I mean, you -- we can argue if there was a punishment too lenient, too harsh. I think it was appropriate. They were fired. They were let go immediately. You know, their lives were ruined.

  • 12:32:40

    BONGINOI know these guys. It's over for them. But how come the White House staffer gets a pass? I mean, it doesn't -- is anybody interested in fairness? And the White House's response to this has just been outrageous. You know, when it was the Secret Service agents, remember this was an international scandal, the president himself said these guys are knuckleheads, they took care of this. And now when it's the staffer, what's their statement? Oh, well, prostitution is legal in Colombia, it's really not that big of a deal, and he was just a volunteer.

  • 12:33:07

    BONGINOWell, I was on those trips as a Secret Service agent. There are no just volunteers on those trips. They all have access to sensitive documents. I just find it mildly hypocritical that when you're in the insider, connected class, and your dad's a donor, you get a promotion. And when you're a rank-and-file government employee, you get fired and publicly tarred and feathered. I mean, how fair is that?

  • 12:33:27

    SHERWOODYou know, at the White House, the more recent thing of the fence jumpers, you know, there's this suggestion that maybe the Secret Service, and I realize there's a uniformed division.

  • 12:33:35


  • 12:33:36

    SHERWOODAnd you were not in the uniformed group.

  • 12:33:37

    BONGINOI'm glad you said that. Most people don't know that.

  • 12:33:39

    SHERWOODThere's a distinction. There's a uniformed division, which guard embassies and other places and the White House. What was your thought when someone jumps over the fence, runs, what is that, 70 yards, they could be used on the football team here, gets inside. We also then find out, because of Carol Leonnig's reporting in the Post, that it wasn't just at the door but all the way in to the steps where you go up to the private quarters.

  • 12:34:03

    SHERWOODI mean, do you think that there should be better service inside the White House grounds, or do you agree that maybe Pennsylvania Avenue should be blocked for people who haven't gone through metal detectors? What do you think about that?

  • 12:34:15

    BONGINOA lot of material there. Being a really die-hard Libertarian on this, I don't want to live in a police state. The White -- Pennsylvania Avenue is secure enough as is. There are ways to manipulate the fence, everything from the curvature at the top, angling it more towards the street, where we can secure the house grounds. We haven't been able to do that through the years because there's a lot of bureaucracy at the White House.

  • 12:34:34

    BONGINOThe White House Historical Association is involved in every little decision. So that's been trouble. But clearly, I mean, let's just get it out there. This was a cataclysmic security failure. There's no putting lipstick on it, nor should we. The life of the president of the United States is not a partisan issue. We're not a, you know, third world country here. The president of the United States should be free to make his own decisions safely.

  • 12:34:52

    BONGINOBut there are, again, ways to fix this without throwing the baby out with the bathwater, and I say that because for 50 years, since 1965, just to put this in perspective, their success rate against fence jumpers was 100 percent. We don't get, we don't get to back and fix the mistake. Nor should we be given a pass. But there are things that weren't right for a long time. They clearly failed this time. I have a good idea what they are. I think they're going to fix them, and I think the White House will be...

  • 12:35:19

    SHERWOODAnd you earn money as a security consultant. That's how you earn money, right?

  • 12:35:23

    BONGINONot -- yeah, I've had to kind of ease back on that a bit with the campaign.

  • 12:35:24

    NNAMDIAre you suggesting that the White House might need to consult with you?

  • 12:35:29

    SHERWOODWell, you know, but I always like to ask people who come in who are running for public office how they sustain themselves. You know, I get paid as a journalist. So you get paid as a consultant?

  • 12:35:36

    BONGINOYeah, I've had to slow down a bit where the campaign's taken on fulltime responsibilities.

  • 12:35:42

    NNAMDIWhat is that campaign all about? Daniel Bongino is a Republican candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives. He's running for the seat in Maryland's Sixth District. Danial Bongino, thank you for joining us. Good luck to you.

  • 12:35:53

    BONGINOIt's been a pleasure. Thanks, guys.

  • 12:35:53

    NNAMDITom Sherwood is our resident analyst. He's an NBC full reporter and a columnist for the Current newspapers. On next week's Politics Hour, we'll hear from people who take opposing positions on Initiative 71. That's a ballot measure in the District this fall that would legalize possession, home cultivation and the sale of paraphernalia to smoke marijuana in D.C. Participants in that debate will be Malik Burnett, the vice chair of the D.C. Cannabis Campaign, which supports I71, and Will Jones, the founder of Two. Is. Enough. D.C., a group that opposes it.

  • 12:36:24

    NNAMDITom will not be here next week, but never fear. Washington City Paper Loose Lips columnist Will Sommer will be sitting in for him, and he'll be helping me to conduct this public debate about marijuana in the nation's capital. That's next week on The Politics Hour. Today on The Politics Hour you can watch us. We have a live video stream at our website,, where you can also join the conversation. You can also send email to or shoot us a tweet @kojoshow.

  • 12:36:54

    NNAMDIWe'll be talking shortly with Khalid Pitts. He is an independent candidate for the D.C. Council, who is running for an at-large seat. But Khalid Pitts, thank you so much for joining us.

  • 12:37:02

    BONGINOThank you, Kojo. Longtime listener, first-time guest.

  • 12:37:06

    NNAMDIFeel free to join in the conversation that Tom and I are about to have. We badgered candidate Muriel Bowser, we as in yours truly, about whether or not she would ask for and get an endorsement from President Obama in her campaign. She has gotten such an endorsement, but no sooner had it gotten in that it began to be called into question by a variety of people who you quoted in your column in the current newspaper.

  • 12:37:33

    SHERWOOD(unintelligible) Incidentally, I'm not here next week because I'm going out of town, not because I've been banished from the show next week because we're talking about marijuana and other fun topics.

  • 12:37:40

    NNAMDIWell, next week we will be talking about whether or not the congressman you worked for lost his seat because you worked for him. So we don't want you hear for that conversation.

  • 12:37:45

    SHERWOODWell, that could have been it. But what was your question, about Obama, yes, endorsing Bowser.

  • 12:37:49


  • 12:37:51

    SHERWOODYou know, also that, the sun also came up in the east, which was shocking. (laugh) President Obama and the leader of the national party endorses Muriel Bowser. It was nice. The presidents don't generally get involved. And it's good for people in the city to -- I mean, it would have been much stronger if, say, Michelle Obama had done because she's much more identified. Clinton Yates of the Post wrote that he really didn't care about Obama's endorsement because Obama has shown little to no interest in our local city except eating in the restaurants here.

  • 12:38:19

    SHERWOODAnd, well, I don't think he said that. I said that. But anyway, he was very critical of it, and I was surprised. I was standing in the council chamber right next to Mary Cheh, the Ward 3 council member, who's a Democrat. And I said, well, what do you think about Obama endorsing Muriel Bowser? And she says that she was shocked that the president, who won't take time to really support voting rights and statehood for the city, really wasn't -- shouldn't be involved in our elections.

  • 12:38:46

    SHERWOODAnd David Grosso, an independent, at-large member, was even, went farther. He said look, if the president gets involved in our local races, then that means the 534 members of Congress, other than Delegate Norton, can also jump in. What's to keep these conservative Republicans or anybody else from jumping in to our elections?

  • 12:39:04

    NNAMDIWell not to mention governors. I only raise that with Ms. Bowser because David Catania was touting his endorsement by the governor of Vermont.

  • 12:39:12

    SHERWOODYes, the difference is that the governor of Vermont is not involved in the District, does not have any role here in the city federal rolls, just somebody that David knows for 10 years or something.

  • 12:39:21

    MR. KHALID PITTSWell just to jump in, and as you know...

  • 12:39:22

    NNAMDIJump in.

  • 12:39:23

    PITTSAs a restaurant owner here, I think Obama's...

  • 12:39:26

    SHERWOODHas he eaten at the Cork?

  • 12:39:27

    PITTSHe hasn't, but Michelle has. But, you know, they...

  • 12:39:32

    NNAMDISo you were with Clinton Yates then?

  • 12:39:33

    PITTSWell no, I think he's brought great excitement to the scene here. I mean, compare him to President Bush, who didn't go out at all. You know, he's created excitement, people going out, people spending money in the city and on commerce. And the question about whether or not he should get involved or not, or Congress, you know, they're already involved, whether it's issue around marijuana...

  • 12:39:51

    SHERWOODDo you support anybody, Khalid? Do you support anyone in the race for mayor?

  • 12:39:55

    PITTSYou know, just recently...

  • 12:39:57

    SHERWOODThat's a yes or a no. (laugh)

  • 12:39:58

    PITTSWell, just recently Muriel Bowser came out with, in her policy papers, about issues of raising the Office of Small Business Administration to a higher level. So it's just now offering permits and giving licenses. They're really trying to grow small business. If she's serious about that and serious about moving forward in education, she's someone I will definitely support.

  • 12:40:16

    NNAMDIWe organized a debate with American University's Washington College of Law this week with the five candidates for attorney general. You can hear that on our website You can also watch the video because it was live video stream, if you'd like to do it, which is the big question here, Tom. Is anyone really paying attention to the attorney generals debate? Do the voters really understand what the attorney general does and is likely to do now that his role has been somewhat changed?

  • 12:40:43

    SHERWOODI don't think so. There's -- but I blame not the people but I blame the media itself. I mean, I think Bruce Johnson did a story on the race yesterday, Channel 9. There have been stories in the Post, a couple of stories in the Post. I mean, it's large candidates. We've got one sitting here, how much media attention they get. They get very little but -- and this is a small town. People can run -- this is an important race, the attorney general. There are five candidates.

  • 12:41:09

    SHERWOODThe Washington Post editorial page this week endorsed Karl Racine. So -- and there have been other smaller group endorsements. But people have to work. I mean, if you're a voter in the District of Columbia, I urge you to go online and Google attorney general race and find out about the candidates. Because you're not going to get that much attention between now and the last four weeks.

  • 12:41:30

    PITTSWell, I just want to say thank you for actually bringing -- you've been having a series of the at-large candidates here, so bringing more issue -- more attention to this race. I think the City Paper has covered, a little lopsided sometimes, but the only person that covers this race. And the Post really hasn't paid attention to it in terms of the AG race. I think people are talking about it. I just got my sixth piece of mail from Karl Racine so he's...

  • 12:41:47

    SHERWOODYeah, so I've gotten mine too.

  • 12:41:48

    PITTS...he's moving his message out there.

  • 12:41:49

    NNAMDISome people around town may know you, Khalid Pitts, more as the owner of the Cork Wine Market and Bar on 14th Street and not as much as someone who has been actively involved in the city's local politics. Just a few weeks left for people to learn about you. You did not register to vote in the district until this past December, even though you've lived here for two decades. How would you say you went from a situation where you weren't voting to one where you now are asking the voters to elect you to the council? What should we know about you that would inform us about why you made that decision?

  • 12:42:23

    PITTSWell, I just say this, you know, after, you know, 20 years of working in national, state and local politics, you know, I want to give back to the city that's given me so much. I was educated here. I met my wife here. I'm raising my family here. In terms of voting, I just -- you know, I would say this. I know it's an important issue to some people but my voting record doesn't define what I've done for the city or what I can do for the city, whether it's not what I've done for the city in terms of working in D.C. jail.

  • 12:42:48

    PITTSMy first job out of grad school is I went to work in the D.C. jail to reform the public health care and the health care there. It doesn't belie the (word?) that I've built two businesses in the city creating jobs with benefits like health care and paid sick leave.

  • 12:42:59

    SHERWOODHow many people work for your two restaurants together?

  • 12:43:02

    PITTSA little above 50. A little above 50. It doesn't, you know, belie that, you know, I'm on the executive board of the D.C. health exchange. And frankly, you know, I helped craft the law that now more than 57,000 people, you know, have health care.

  • 12:43:16

    SHERWOODI think David Catania, the council member who helped craft that would ask you, do you think he -- Catania did a good job on the health care committee?

  • 12:43:25

    PITTSI think he did a good job. He was -- he -- we agreed in some things, we didn't agree on others. But at the end of the day it's bringing stakeholders and people to the table moving forward. That's something I've done for 20 years, whether electing the first African American president or they're passing his health care law. You know, those are the things I've done, bringing stakeholders and people who had shared interests and some not shared interests. But...

  • 12:43:45

    SHERWOODCan I ask...

  • 12:43:46

    NNAMDIAt what point did you decide to go from one team to the opposite team? You worked for the Service Employees International Union representing -- which represents workers, then you decided to become management. You went from labor to management. At what point in your career did you make that transition and why?

  • 12:44:03

    PITTSWell, I kind of made that transition in 2008. I think we kind of talked about -- you know, I spent 20 years traveling this country, you know, electing progressives, passing -- you know, help passing laws. In 2004 I was away for ten months out of D.C. trying to beat President Bush. In 2008, you know, I helped elect President Barack Obama and had the opportunity to vote with my dad, a memory, a moment in time that I will take to my grave. And something I'm building with my kids here, you know.

  • 12:44:33

    PITTSYou know, Detroit and Michigan is my heritage. Now D.C.'s my home and my future. And in terms of just, you know, deciding to be manageable, just say we all have interests, you know, outside out 9:00 to 5:00 jobs. You know, Tom, you're a writer but you're also a commentator as well. My wife and I decided that we want to be part of the revitalization of our neighborhood. And that's when we decided to build Cork on a shoestring budget and took, you know, drywall to dreams come true.

  • 12:44:58

    NNAMDIIf you have questions or comments for Khalid Pitts, give us a call at 800-433-8850.

  • 12:45:03

    SHERWOODYour wife, Diane Gross, right?

  • 12:45:05

    PITTSMy wife, Diane Gross.

  • 12:45:06

    SHERWOODOkay. Who's the wine person in this? I've been into your store on 14th Street and who -- are you the wine person or is she the wine person?

  • 12:45:14

    PITTSI think we would say we're equally wine people, but my wife is the wine expert.

  • 12:45:17

    SHERWOODLet me ask you an economic question because for you to be elected to the council you've seen the explosion of growth on 14th Street. It's occurring on a -- it occurred on 8th Street. It's occurring in Brookland. It's occurring in many parts of the city. Many people say this city is gentrifying to the point that there's lots of young people who are just mainly the place to eat and sleep because they're having a great time in the city. And it's obscuring some of the more serious social issues that we have. As a council member, what would you focus on?

  • 12:45:48

    PITTSWell, I think there are three things I want to focus on, and you talk about one...

  • 12:45:51

    SHERWOODYou mentioned three things earlier but that was just kind of a general thing so I wanted...

  • 12:45:54

    PITTSWell, I think you're talking about strong neighborhoods. I think you talk about those young folks who want to just eat and sleep. You know, those young folks here want to build lives here. I met so many people on the campaign trail who are looking to see, what's my next step? I'm renting an apartment here. You know, can I afford to rent my next apartment? Can I afford to buy a house here? Can I afford to buy a condo here? They're questioning that and they're thinking about moving to Maryland...

  • 12:46:14

    SHERWOODNow you said on your website it would cost somebody $28.25 an hour as a minimum wage in order to afford a two-bedroom apartment in this city. But as a council member, what can you do about that?

  • 12:46:25

    PITTSWell, I think I can do a couple things. One, from affordable housing standpoint, you know, we've got to address the issue of building affordable housing...

  • 12:46:32

    SHERWOODBut what does that address issue? I mean...

  • 12:46:35

    PITTSWell, I would say new developments, we have to...

  • 12:46:37

    SHERWOODDo we need affordable housing in Ward 3?

  • 12:46:39

    PITTSI think we need affordable housing everywhere. I don't think we want to ghetto-ize affordable housing. You know, we want to mix communities, both racially and socially economic.

  • 12:46:47

    SHERWOODOkay. And you also said school boundaries. We asked this question, you know, the mayor has proposed a significant boundary change in education. And I know the mayor controls who the school's chancellor is. But what do you think about school boundaries? It's -- the parents around the city are somewhat rattled by it. Some are for it, some are against it, others are uncertain. What's your view?

  • 12:47:08

    PITTSWell, I'm supporting the school boundaries...

  • 12:47:09 it is written now.

  • 12:47:10 is written now. The question isn't about where the boundaries really is. The question is about equality of our schools. You know, I've been in politics for a long, long time and seen politicians, you know, kick the can down the road until that can is rusted and beat up. And it's about leadership, you know. You know, whether it's that parent in Crestwood who's worried now that their kid can't go to Deal or Wilson. You know, we're going to make Roosevelt a better school and we're going to do it now and not five years from now.

  • 12:47:33

    NNAMDIOnto the telephones. Here is Ana in Washington, D.C. Ana, you are on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 12:47:40

    ANAThanks. I just want to follow up on a question you had asked earlier about Khalid's relationship with labor unions and small businesses and we solve being able to work those -- bring those together (unintelligible) city.

  • 12:47:54

    PITTSSure. Thanks, Ana. You know, people say you've got two kids, two businesses. How are you going to be a city councilman? I worked full time organizing workers and fighting for justice across this country while building and working two businesses. I think the way you look at it is it's about respect transparency and accountability. People want to be paid a fair honest wage for a fair honest day of work. Management wants workers who are engaged and fill -- empowered to make their jobs the best possible. And again, it's across region and across lines. Things I've done time and time again and things I will do on the city council.

  • 12:48:28

    SHERWOODThis is a -- I'm sorry, did I cut off the caller?

  • 12:48:31


  • 12:48:31

    SHERWOODOkay. It's a crowded field. I did a forum yesterday for the D.C. bar. And it's a crowded field. How are you reaching out, other than appearing on this program -- we have such a great audience -- but how are you reaching out in terms of money, in terms of -- to stand out among the other candidates, I mean, a get-out-the-vote effort? I think someone who gets the vote out, you know, is obviously going to win this probably. How are you doing in terms of field organizing, just the campaign stuff that you have to do?

  • 12:49:03

    SHERWOODBecause people -- they like Carol Schwartz and I have hundreds of people who said to me, like Carol Schwartz but they don't go out to vote for her. What are you going to do to get the people who like you, like your restaurants, like your ideas to say, hey, I want to go vote?

  • 12:49:16

    PITTSWell, I just want to say yesterday, I apologize for leaving early.

  • 12:49:19

    SHERWOODThat's okay. I cussed you out after you left.

  • 12:49:19

    PITTS(unintelligible) and I had some challenges with my kids not being able to be in school. But I think this, you know, if you read the reports I've led in money raising since the very beginning. I expect to...

  • 12:49:33

    SHERWOOD(unintelligible) okay, I'm sorry. Go ahead.

  • 12:49:35

    PITTSAnd I expect to lead money raising after the report's out today. You know, I've ran campaigns for a long, long time. I know how to utilize that...

  • 12:49:43

    SHERWOODWho are you targeting...

  • 12:49:44

    PITTSI'm targeting the entire city. You know, I'm running in all eight wards. I put a campaign together to run in all eight wards. And, like you said, you know, go out and find your voters. I think a lot of campaigns are depending upon, you know, people who will come out for the mayor's race. And the enthusiasm for the mayor race has waxed and waned over the course of these several months. I'm going to find my voters. I've been talking to them on the doors, I've been talking to them on the phones. I've been talking through emails and through the other kinds of social media aspects.

  • 12:50:10

    PITTSBut I'm finding my voters, people who like Khalid Pitts, people like, you know, they stand for strong neighborhoods, creating quality jobs, you know, creating our education system here. Those are the voters I'm targeting and moving forward to vote...

  • 12:50:21

    SHERWOODVery quickly, people can vote for two at-large candidates. Anita Bonds is running for re-election as a Democrat but you can vote for two. Do you have anyone else you'd urge people to vote for or are you sticking with yourself?

  • 12:50:32

    PITTSWell, I'm going to vote for myself first and then as these millions of forums that we have and different discussions, I'm going to look for a second person. One of my best ways you can actually find me is on my website or follow me on Twitter, KhalidPitts@KhalidPitts.

  • 12:50:46

    NNAMDIHere is Ross in Washington, D.C. Ross, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 12:50:51

    ROSSThanks very much. Khalid, I'm glad you're on the line. The voting record, for me as a D.C. voter, really concerns me. And you mentioned before you basically said, voting -- and I wrote down the quote "is an important issue to some people." I happen to think voting is an important issue to all people. And you went on to say that you were happy to join with your dad in voting for Obama in 2008. So does that mean you did vote in 2008 or -- I'm just confused because I think voting is -- I mean, it's the lynchpin. It's what we're all about.

  • 12:51:29

    NNAMDIKhalid Pitts.

  • 12:51:29

    PITTSLet me -- sorry, let me clarify. Yes, I did vote in 2008 and I have always voted. What I meant to clarify is that I said that for some my recent registration last year could be -- is a great issue to individuals to be recently registered to vote here in D.C. I've always voted. I fought for voting rights across this country. I've seen people turned away in Ohio and Florida from not being able to vote, so voting is an important issue.

  • 12:51:53

    NNAMDISo where did you vote for the president in 2008?

  • 12:51:57


  • 12:51:58

    NNAMDIYou were registered in Michigan?

  • 12:51:59

    PITTSI was registered in Michigan. So I think folks should realize this. I've worked -- I've been an organizer...

  • 12:52:02

    SHERWOODBut you lived here in 2008.

  • 12:52:03

    PITTSWell, I lived here but I'd been on the road. I was -- I'd been on the road, yeah.

  • 12:52:06

    SHERWOODOo, we better be careful here.

  • 12:52:08

    PITTSWell, you know, you know, one thing's different about me, a lot of people running for office, I'm honest. I'm honest about what my feelings are, honest of what I did. Sometimes we have differences but we move forward. But I'm real about the things I care about for this city.

  • 12:52:19

    NNAMDILet's see what that means to Pat in Washington, D.C. Pat, you heard Khalid pitch his explanation. What do you want to know now?

  • 12:52:27

    PATHi, Kojo. Hi, Tom. Hey, Khalid, I'd like everyone to know that you basically just admitted to committing felonies in the State of Michigan. You lived here for 20 years and you've continued to vote in Michigan over the last 20 years. Is that correct?

  • 12:52:40

    PITTSYeah, let me just say about that, we...

  • 12:52:42

    PATYou do realize that it's a felony, right?

  • 12:52:45

    PITTSLet me just address that question, you know. I've -- you know, my intent was, for a long time, to move back to Michigan. And we have talked to lawyers and we've addressed that issue. So we're going to move forward. Whatever my record was in the past about voting will not stop me, and won't stop my ability to serve as a strong city council member, and things that you care about for the future, not the past but the future, schools, strong neighborhoods, jobs, affordable housing. Those are the things you want to talk about for the future of the city.

  • 12:53:13

    SHERWOODCan we just be clear? When was the last time you voted in Michigan?

  • 12:53:16


  • 12:53:17

    SHERWOOD2008, okay.

  • 12:53:18

    NNAMDIFrom Michigan to California, because after the San Francisco Giants eliminated our Washington Nationals, you said that you were proud that D.C. was not San Francisco, quoting here, "a place where the cost of living has put a decent living out of reach for many." What would you say to those people who feel like wine bars on 14th Street are actually a symbol of D.C. becoming more unaffordable?

  • 12:53:41

    PITTSWell, one can see it as a symbol but folks who have actually been to my restaurant, my wine bar, it's a neighborhood place. It was built to be a neighborhood place...

  • 12:53:49

    SHERWOODThe French fries cost $7...

  • 12:53:51

    PITTSYeah, well...

  • 12:53:54

    SHERWOOD...but they're pretty good though.

  • 12:53:56

    PITTS...well, you know, I pay my servers, I...

  • 12:53:58

    NNAMDIThat's how much French fries cost in my neighborhood place, but go ahead.

  • 12:54:00

    PITTSWell, they're great but you look at my French fries compared to French fries of other restaurants, I think we're very competitive and have some great quality French fries. But, you know, Cork Wine Bar is a place that for neighborhoods you come in two, three times a week, you felt part of the neighborhood, you know.

  • 12:54:14

    NNAMDIMost seriously, what are the things that you would advocate for on the council, specific things that would bend the cost of living in D.C. back to a trajectory that's reasonable?

  • 12:54:25

    PITTSWell, I think you look at it two ways. You look at job creation and that trajectory of jobs that someone, whether they're starting to earn a minimum wage job. They have an ability for their education through training and through their own kind of shear will to rise at the ladder to success. So they're putting more money in their pocket and be able to start a family and raise a family here.

  • 12:54:44

    PITTSI think the second thing is look at affordable housing. We talked about it earlier that in terms of affordable housing we have to build more affordable housing. And we have to address the issue of new communities and development happening in new communities that we have affordable housing for those communities. And not just necessarily to say this, that it costs a little bit more to live in Logan Circle than it does to live east of the river. So I don't want to ghettoize affordable housing. Affordable housing should be across the city.

  • 12:55:08


  • 12:55:08

    SHERWOODSo you would build affordable housing in Ward 3 (unintelligible) . It's kind of like the city spending $50 million to buy park land in NoMa because they forgot to include parks in the redevelopment. Would you buy expensive homes in Ward 3 and turn them into affordable housing?

  • 12:55:23

    PITTSWell, I think you have to look at everything. And I think that's...

  • 12:55:25

    SHERWOODI mean, that...

  • 12:55:26

    PITTSWell, it's not necessary...

  • 12:55:27

    SHERWOOD...I wouldn't -- it's very expensive but there are plenty of other spots in town that are nice neighborhoods that aren't nearly as expensive.

  • 12:55:35

    PITTSWell, affordable housing is different things. It's not just in terms of if you think about low-income housing. It's those families (unintelligible) kind of neighborhoods...

  • 12:55:42

    SHERWOODYou're talking about working poor and lower middle-income people.

  • 12:55:44

    PITTSI think we need -- in terms of workforce people or construction workers making $70,000 a year and not able to buy a house here, whether it's that young couple living at a merging neighborhood...

  • 12:55:53

    SHERWOODDo you subsidize them?

  • 12:55:54

    PITTSWell, we subsidize in different ways, directly or indirectly. I think you look at the issue of property taxes, particularly in these emerging markets -- in merging neighborhoods where every, you know, two years the city has the ability to raise your property tax up 10 percent. And it's up to the homeowner to try to fight that. I think we have to look at the -- how we are assessing homes and how we are -- the process of how do we increase that assessment. Because, again, we need to make an investment in this city, investments in neighborhoods, investments in the business community, investments in people.

  • 12:56:21

    SHERWOODYeah, but again, I always call people on this because it's good civic class -- I'll call it 9th grade civics class -- when you say we need to invest in people. We need to put children first in schools. We need to make sure our roads are decent.

  • 12:56:33

    NNAMDII agree with all of those.

  • 12:56:34

    SHERWOODWell, yes. You know, I could win on those, that platform. No. But what people want to know is, will you in fact fix the potholes on 54th Street or something, or will you in fact put housing -- commit the money to build? We have a housing trust fund. Some people say it's underfunded, underutilized. And I think people are looking for specific things of what would you do...

  • 12:56:54

    NNAMDIAnd you only have a minute left in which to give those.

  • 12:56:56


  • 12:56:57

    SHERWOODOne of your most important things you do.

  • 12:56:59

    PITTSWell, I think...

  • 12:56:59

    SHERWOODI'd blow up DOES, for example. What would you do?

  • 12:57:00

    PITTSWell, I think one, I think the housing trust fund should be, you know, supplemented for $100 million. I think you're never going to have enough money to fully fund this. That's why you're talking about opportunities. We have to create strong neighborhoods. We have to create opportunities for people to earn, not just a decent living, but have the opportunity to earn more.

  • 12:57:18

    PITTSI think one of the things we think about in terms of -- we think about 7 and 8 and what's happening over there -- we don't appreciate the affirmation, oh, kind of dreams of a kid in 7 and 8. I grew up in a poor side of Detroit, Mich. You know, I wanted -- I had dreams of having that big house on the hill. And those kids in 7 and 8, you know, some of those kids want to live in Fox (word?) , want to live in Georgetown, want to live in Logan Circle. And we should be creating those opportunities through education, through training and through jobs to let them do that.

  • 12:57:42

    NNAMDIWe're almost out of time. This really doesn't matter to me but it does matter to some people. Would you be a fulltime council member or would you stay in the game with your wine market?

  • 12:57:51

    PITTSYou know, I will be a fulltime council member. The question I think -- the question raised to me is like, would you give up your market?

  • 12:57:57

    NNAMDIYes, you would.

  • 12:57:58

    PITTSIt's a family business so I...

  • 12:57:59

    SHERWOODYou know, you answer that you should...

  • 12:58:01

    PITTSI will not be working in my market.

  • 12:58:01

    NNAMDIKhalid Pitts is the independent candidate for the D.C. council. He's running for an at-large seat. Thank you for joining us. Good luck to you.

  • 12:58:08

    PITTSThank you, Kojo, and thank you, Tom.

  • 12:58:09

    NNAMDITom Sherwood is our resident analyst. He's an NBC 4 reporter and a columnist for the Current Newspapers. Good luck to you.

  • 12:58:14

    SHERWOODMy condolences to the Nats.

  • 12:58:16

    NNAMDII'm Kojo Nnamdi.

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