The timeline and cost for completing the Purple Line is up in the air after a judge ruled that contractors may quit in the middle of the project. Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich weighs in on that, the latest coronavirus news and more.
A Republican victory in Maryland’s gubernatorial race sends shockwaves throughout the region. Virginia’s most popular Democrat is pushed to the brink by a GOP challenger. And D.C.’s Democratic mayoral candidate cruises to victory over a pair of independent opponents. 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
- Patrick Madden Reporter, WAMU 88.5 News
- Muriel Bowser Mayor-Elect, District of Columbia (D)
- Don Beyer Member-Elect, U.S. House of Representatives (D-Va.)
MR. KOJO NNAMDIFrom WAMU 88.5, at American University, in Washington, welcome to "The Politics Hour," starring Tom Sherwood -- well, today starring Muriel Bowser. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
MR. KOJO NNAMDITom Sherwood is our resident analyst. He's a NBC 4 reporter and a columnist for the Current Newspapers. He joins us in studio. Tom, as always, welcome.
MR. TOM SHERWOODWell, thank you very much. We have an exciting show coming up.
NNAMDIAlso joining us in studio is our guest analyst. He is Patrick Madden. He's a reporter for WAMU 88.5. Patrick, good to see you again.
MR. PATRICK MADDENGood afternoon. Thank you for having me.
NNAMDIAnd our guest for today is the woman of the hour, so to speak, the mayor elect of the District of Columbia joins us in studio. Muriel Bowser congratulations and welcome.
MAYOR-ELECT MURIEL BOWSERThank you, Kojo. Thank you. And thank you for having me. I'm delighted to be here.
NNAMDIIf you have questions or comments for Mayor Elect Bowser, give us a call at 800-433-8850. You can go to our website, kojoshow.org and watch the live videostream of this conversation. Or you can send email to firstname.lastname@example.org, shoot us a tweet, @kojoshow. Tom Sherwood, why did Muriel Bowser win the mayoral race for the District of Columbia?
SHERWOODVery simple. She got more votes than anybody else. No.
SHERWOODNo. She won because she ran what she had said she was going to do. She ran a disciplined campaign. It was different during the campaign and me and others, some columnists complained about how she was skipping all the forums this fall season, but…
BOWSERYou mean the three forums that I attended with you?
NNAMDILet the record…
SHERWOODIt was not nearly enough.
NNAMDILet the record show that if -- I said that if she wins after missing those forums it will show that she probably made the right decision.
SHERWOODWhich -- well, she, I mean, she's here. She can say it for herself, but she -- in midsummer even she was saying -- her campaign was saying that they had targeted the voters. They knew who would vote for her. They went out and got them. Corralled them and got them to the polls.
BOWSERWell, you know why I think we won, Kojo? Because we went around the city for 19 months. We won a big Democratic primary in April. And I knew then that residents wanted a fresh start in the mayor's office. They wanted the opportunity to look at all the agencies, look at the challenges of our future. And they wanted to elect a mayor who shared their values.
BOWSERAnd that's what we talked about. We ran a positive campaign. We ran a campaign in all eight wards of the District of Columbia. And I just couldn't be more grateful for the people who spoke up, stood up and went out to vote on November the 4th.
NNAMDIAllow me to explain something.
NNAMDIOn this show we have analysts. They're the ones who are supposed to analyze…
NNAMDI…how the election went.
BOWSERYou got it, you got it.
NNAMDIHowever, having won the election you probably know how it was done better than anyone else.
SHERWOODBut you did -- just to be -- you did have a well-organized, I mean, campaign.
BOWSERI told everybody from the start that nobody would work harder or smarter. I surrounded myself with really great people. And I set out a plan. And we stuck to the plan. We knew we had a winning plan. And we executed it every day. One of the favorite things I would say to my team is let's try to win every day.
NNAMDIPatrick Madden, I give you am much more difficult question. Why did David Catania, the Independent candidate, former Republican, lose this race?
MADDENWell, I think there were a lot of challenges that Catania faced running as an Independent in Washington, D.C. Three out of four voters are registered Democrats. Their fundraising -- the Bowser campaign held a significant advantage in that. So it -- there was a lot of challenges that Catania faced if he was going to be successful in a general election. But I think the Catania campaign had trouble connecting with voters, trying to explain -- not -- sort of why vote for me. I mean that was the challenge that he had to make. And it doesn't look like he made it.
SHERWOODWell, he didn't get as many white voters as he thought he was going to get. He got a substantial number of African American voters. And Ms. Bowser's campaign -- she won with a pretty broad -- a strong support on April 1st, but a lot of white voters -- this time you got -- you won parts of the city you didn't win in April. So there is a racial split in the city. Maybe we should just ask you to address that. It wasn't as bad as some of the more recent elections, but you've seen the racial split in the city. What do you think that means in terms of your trying to govern for all eight wards?
BOWSEROh, we had tremendous energy around our campaign in all eight wards.
BOWSERWe won five out of the eight wards.
SHERWOODAnd you didn't lose badly in the ones you didn't win.
BOWSERYou got it. And we're very close in Ward 6, I'm told. And 2 and 3, we had almost 40 percent of the vote.
BOWSERSo there's tremendous energy around our campaign, just like there was in April across the city.
MADDENBut turnout was low. I mean, we're looking at a 33 percent turnout, which, frankly, I, you know, isn't good when you talk about a very important election. Why do you think that the turnout was low in this election? I mean, you mention the energy, but it seems that two out of three voters -- registered voters stayed home.
BOWSERWell, we saw a tremendous turnout in places where we didn't expect to see tremendous turnout. A lot of people had written Ward 8 off, for example, saying that, no, people don't vote in Ward 8. And we knew that wasn't the truth. We spent a lot of time focused on voters who may have come out in an Obama election and never voted in a general election. And I got to tell you, we made the decision to commit a lot of time and resources in locating an office. And I couldn't be more thrilled by the number of people who turned out.
SHERWOODAnd you could just look across the border to Maryland, where Anthony Brown lost in a stunning upset.
BOWSERWell, what I told -- the night after the election I was invited to a dinner, a Planned Parenthood Gala. And there was some somber faces across the whole banquet room. But I told them, I'm Muriel Bowser, I'm a Democrat and I won last night.
NNAMDI800-433-8850 is the number if you'd like to speak with Muriel Bowser. She is the mayor elect of the District of Columbia joining us in studio. You can watch our livestream at our website, kojoshow.org. You can send email to email@example.com, or shoot us a tweet, @kojoshow. Tom?
SHERWOODI wanted to ask because you've -- somebody's already tweeted that you've said fresh start again. But you named your transition group this morning and you named all of the mayors -- the former mayors as they're kind of ceremonial people to lead your transition. While they give you some gravitas for that, who's going to run the transition? You're going to get a bunch of reports and start-up programs of what you need to do on day one, January 2nd, at high noon. Is that Beverly Perry who's going to run the hard work of the staff, not the former mayor?
BOWSERWell, I've been really grateful for some really great Washingtonians who've stepped up to the plate. Today -- you're making reference -- we made the announcement of the five people who will co-chair the transition efforts. And they'll have various duties. And those co-chairs include Beverly Perry and Alice Rivlin and Maria Gomez, John Boardman and Judge Mary Terrell. And so they represent a diversity of interests across the city. And they bring a strong presence to our efforts.
BOWSERAnd Beverly is certainly -- she joined us first with those efforts. And has been critical in working with the Gray administration on the transition documents and all the other logistics will transfer to our effort.
NNAMDIDon your headphones, please, because we have a caller who has a question about your transition team. And that would be Melissa, in Washington, D.C. Melissa, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
MELISSAHi. First I want to congratulate the mayor elect.
MELISSAI'm looking forward to seeing what you can do. So here's a first hard question for you. I'm concerned to see Alice Rivlin as part of your team. She supports the (unintelligible) which cut social security benefits and is on -- Pete Peters a co-chair of Peterson (unintelligible) which has been working around the country to cut pensions and attack teachers and really do all kinds of (unintelligible) economics.
MELISSAAnd as we're in a growth economy here in D.C., we don't really need that kind of influence of (unintelligible) economics. Can you (unintelligible) my concerns or can you say if you will also appoint somebody to committee who believes in a progressive budgeting for the city?
BOWSERWell, I think you'll be very pleased that next week we're going to announce our subcommittees and co-chairs of our subcommittees. And I'm proud to have Alice Rivlin as part of our team. I think you'll probably know that she's been very active in the resurgence of Washington, D.C. Nobody understands our budget better than Alice and the trends that the District faces. We are in a very good financial period right now. But none of of should rest on our laurels.
BOWSERWe have to look ahead to the challenges and make sure that we're setting up our city, we're attracting jobs and growth so that we can continue to grow, while also taking care of the many challenges that we face. And somebody…
NNAMDIThe reason I liked Melissa's call though is that Alice Rivlin is usually a consensus choice for this kind of team. You don't often hear somebody who says, look, I disagree with her on things.
SHERWOODWell, but there is…
BOWSERShe's very -- I'm glad she said, yes.
SHERWOODThere is a problem around the country of pension benefit cuts and all those types of things. But here in the city people forget that when the control board was in place, and Alice Rivlin was the chair of that control board at one point -- one of the agreements in doing that deal for the city was that the federal government took over our pension…
SHERWOOD…obligations. Billions of dollars of obligations going forward. And so we -- the city doesn't have the same kind drag that Detroit and other places have had.
BOWSERWe have one of the most robust retirement funds anywhere in the country, thanks to those -- some of those decisions.
NNAMDIMelissa, does that make you feel any better?
MELISSAA little, I guess. I hope that it -- I just hope that as we move in forward we have a progressive view for the budget and get more money in (unintelligible) trust fund, get more money back into the street, so that way everybody in the city, especially people in Ward 5, 7 and 8 will benefit just like a lot of the people in Wards 1, 2 and 3.
SHERWOODThat sounds like her campaign.
BOWSERWell, that's my commitment.
NNAMDIThank you very much for your call. Patrick Madden?
MADDENMayor-Elect Bowser, you said in your victory speech that the status quo isn't good enough. You know, we saw after Mayor Fenty won he dove right into school reform. What issue, what big ticket item do you think you're going to tackle right away as mayor?
BOWSERWell, we know what the challenges that are going to face us when we walk in the door are homeless crisis and making sure that we're forging a new path to deal with it. The issues of D.C. General, but also the issues for single adults who are homeless. But more broadly, looking at how we're organized and how we're funding our approach to creating and preserving more affordable housing across the District of Columbia's going to be key. But you'll also see us focus on new tools and new solutions and using technology to better deliver services in the District of Columbia.
MADDENAnd you'll be taking over in January, which will be right in the heart of the homeless crisis.
BOWSERYou got it.
MADDENIs your plan to continue what Mayor Gray is going to do, in terms of putting families in Maryland hotels? I mean, is your plan to continue his plan or are you going to come in the middle of this with something different?
BOWSERWell, certainly even before the election I called Allen Lew and the folks in DHS who are working on a homeless prevention now, before we even get into the hypothermia season, to make sure that D.C. General would be able to serve us for this winter and know what the plan is if we go over capacity. And we know that that's a possibility. One of the issues is funding because quite frankly there was no funding in the last budget for that emergency program.
BOWSERSo I've started this conversation with Allen, but also with my current colleagues on the Council of the District of Columbia because this funding gap has to be addressed.
MADDENHave you spoken to Gray about this issue yet, since the election?
BOWSERI have spoken to Allen. I've spoken to -- just before the election. And so this is a main priority that we'll continue to be briefed on.
NNAMDII want to stay on homelessness for a second here, because Christy, in Washington, D.C., has your question been answered?
CHRISTYHi, Mayor-Elect, this is Christy Respress, executive director of Pathways to Housing here in D.C. And congratulations.
BOWSERThank you, Christy.
CHRISTYAnd you stated, actually, the conversation -- the reason I called was I was really wondering if you could talk a little bit more about what you would like to achieve in the next year for both singles and families who are experiencing homelessness in the next year. It really -- it's an ongoing and continuing crisis. So I'd love to hear your thoughts on some more specific things you'd like to achieve.
NNAMDIChristy, thank you for your call. Walter, you would like to address the same issue, right?
NNAMDIWell, Walter, than you'll have to hold. I thought you wanted to talk about housing and homelessness.
WALTERYes. I did. I want to congratulate her. That's one issue. And just the idea -- not on the housing so much, as the charter school. You got to put a halt to some of that foolishness, ma'am. Would you please address that?
NNAMDII thought you wanted to talk about affordable housing, but, of course, Muriel Bowser can talk about anything she wants.
BOWSERSo let me turn to Christy's question about homelessness. And my pledge has always been I don't think that D.C. General is the appropriate place for families. And we know that the various shelters around the city are also not in the best condition or conducive to people dealing with the issues that led to their homelessness in the first place. So I want to revisit how this city gets back on track to a housing first policy. What those funding commitments are going to be. But we know that we're always going to have a need for low barrier emergency shelter.
BOWSERAnd so I will -- to your question also, Patrick, I'll look at what the mayor has on the table, in terms of finding smaller units that are more conducive for families and more conducive to service needs of people who are exiting homelessness.
SHERWOODOn this same issue, someone was talking to me about the Federal Emergency Management Agency and what did -- with Katrina and -- and it had poorly run, but they had these emergency shelters. We have these trailers that we have put in schools for emergency classrooms. But there are -- I don't call them mobile homes, but that's essentially what they are, which can be put up pretty quickly in spaces where they can be out of the -- people can be out of the cold.
SHERWOODI don't -- I've never heard anyone talk about emergency housing like that. Talking about -- I don't know how many motels there are in this city. Maryland does not want us to take our homeless people to motels in Maryland. Why isn't there more temporary mobile-home style housing that we've seen in other places, like we have at schools where we need temporary classrooms?
BOWSERWell, I think that we want to make sure that we are supporting solutions that will keep people safe, in safe environments, like you say, away from the elements. But we also want to invest in solutions that are going to help people out of their situations. And we know the sooner that we can get people into -- whether it's traditional housing that has, you know, that they can stay beyond a night or a week or a month, then we can provide the types of services that are going to allow them to once and for all exit homelessness.
NNAMDIGo ahead, Tom.
SHERWOODSoccer deal. It's pending. It's pressing. There's a feeling that the Council would like to get this done before you even take office, but you've had maybe a chance yet to see the report, the $200,000 report? Can the city get it done?
NNAMDIThe $200 report commissioned by…
NNAMDI…by the -- it was commissioned by the Council?
SHERWOODYes, by the Council, yeah.
NNAMDIFor those of our listeners who may not be familiar with what you're talking about.
SHERWOODOh, that's right. $200,000. But, you know, you've got some information now. You know, as the mayor you're going to have to make decisions even when you don't have all the information.
SHERWOODAre you ready to like take a firm stand on the soccer deal?
NNAMDIThe City Paper reports that that report commissioned by the Council would over pay by more than $25 million in completing the land swap's plan as a part of that deal.
BOWSERWell, this is my commitment as to make sure we have a plan to keep D.C. United here. I am -- I continue to be troubled by the Reeves Center piece of the deal. And I'm…
SHERWOODThat's Jack -- excuse me. I apologize. Jack Evans has said that is the deal.
BOWSERWell, I don't know if I would go that far because I think if the city puts in front of the developers and a team a way to get to their stadium without our building, the team would do itself well in and so would the other property owner, to take that very seriously.
MADDENAs mayor would you, I mean, we've seen what they say that we'll essentially be overpaying for some of the land and not getting enough in return for the Reeves Center. This is based on the consultants. Will you go -- I mean, if that's the deal, it has to go along with that. Would you be willing to go along with that if we are overpaying in the short term to bring the team here?
BOWSERI don't -- I think the way that it lays out I'm still concerned about it. And I don't think we have to sell our building. Now if…
SHERWOODThe mayor-elect coming and saying we're not going to sell the building is pretty powerful thing to say.
BOWSERAnd I think that we need to examine all of the scenarios. If there is a way that the city -- now, you know, it's a pretty tremendous thing to say that the city will invest $150 million in a stadium. Let's not forget that.
MADDENA soccer stadium.
BOWSERYes. In a soccer stadium. And so if the Council -- and it will be up to the Council in the next couple of months -- says we're willing to support the economic development that a stadium would bring by way of a capital investment, but by the way, we're going to hold on to our building at 14th and U. And maybe next year if we decide to sell it, we can get a lot more money for it.
MADDENIs imminent domain off the table?
NNAMDIWe only have about two minutes more left, but go ahead.
MADDENIs imminent domain off the table, do you think?
BOWSERI don't -- yeah, I think all the economic development tools at our disposal should remain on the table. I'm not a big fan. You won't hear me talking about going and taking people's land. But if we can make an argument to -- that this is economic development project that is essential for our city, then I'm going to leave all the tools on the table.
SHERWOODOne last question, Beverly Perry, former executive that ran Pepco, one of the big issues coming up in the city is the Public Service Commission has to approve the sale of Pepco, the $7 billion sale of Pepco to Exelon, the big energy corporation. How will you separate Beverly Perry's role as representing Pepco and a retired executive of Pepco in that big issue which affects all the people going into the winter and power reliability and such?
BOWSERWell, there will be an absolute firewall. And this is a conversation that Beverly and I had early on. And we both agreed. And we -- not -- she's no longer works for Pepco, but certainly we know that many people in their minds connect her to the company. The mayor actually has no role in the approval of that merger. That is the Public Service Commission, which is an independent entity.
SHERWOODThat you appoint.
BOWSERWhich I have a -- I think I've played a role in the appointment of each of the commissioners that's presently on the commission.
SHERWOODI'm sorry, may I…
NNAMDIAnd final question…
SHERWOODOh, I had a final question…
BOWSERI should say that the confirmation.
NNAMDIYou said your last question was a final question.
SHERWOODNo. Well, that was the last -- that was an ultimate question.
NNAMDIAs for who replaces you, if Brandon Todd who run -- worked in your office and who ran your -- as your -- worked as your finance (unintelligible) if he decides to run for Council in Ward 4, would you support him?
BOWSERWell, I am the Ward 4 council member until I'm not the Ward 4 council member. And I imagine I'll have something to say about all of the candidates.
NNAMDISorry, Brandon, couldn't get it out of her.
SHERWOODNow, let -- I want to ask about media relations because we had…
NNAMDIYou got 30 seconds.
SHERWOOD…Mayor Sharon Pratt Kelly isolated herself in her office and she suffered for it, got 13 percent in a reelection bid. Adrian Fenty won every precinct in 2006, isolated himself from business, labor and media and he lost badly in 2010. You've had your issues with media people. What's your view on it, in terms of how are you going -- you going to have weekly press conferences, bi-weekly, or have you decided any of these things?
BOWSERWell, I haven't decided on a schedule, but we do intend to be open and transparent and update the press regularly. We've had two press conferences in the last 48 hours, all well attended by the press. And we're grateful for it. So…
SHERWOODYou ready for us to dog you, 10 reporters standing outside your car?
BOWSERYou mean more than the last 19 months?
SHERWOODYes. That's a yes.
BOWSEROkay. Yes, I'm ready.
NNAMDIMuriel Bowser is mayor-elect…
BOWSERThank you. Thank you.
NNAMDI…of the District of Columbia. She joined us in studio. Muriel Bowser, once again, congratulations and thank you so much for joining us.
BOWSERThank you very much.
NNAMDIYou're listening to "The Politics Hour." Tom Sherwood is our resident analyst. He's a NBC 4 reporter. He's a columnist for the Current Newspapers. And if he gets desperate enough to find Muriel Bowser -- since she is single and he's single -- he'll make a date just to be able to get some information.
SHERWOODNo. I don't think that's going to happen, Kojo. You'd just do anything to get some information.
BOWSEROh, excuse me.
SHERWOODWell, no, well…
NNAMDI800-433-8850. We'll soon be joined by Don Beyer. He's member-elect of the U.S. House of Representatives. He'll be representing Virginia's 8th District as a Democrat. He's also a former lieutenant governor of Virginia. You can start calling for him now, 800-433-8850. You can join our live stream at kojoshow.org, where you can see both Tom Sherwood -- he is our resident analyst, an NBC 4 reporter and a columnist for the Current Newspapers -- and Patrick Madden is our guest analyst.
NNAMDIHe's a reporter for WAMU 88.5. The legislation or the Initiative 71 to legalize marijuana in District of Columbia was passed overwhelmingly by voters this past Tuesday, however that happened on the same day as both the House -- which was already in the hands of the Republican Party and the Senate turned to the Republican Party and it is generally believed that the members in both the House and the Senate will be opposed for this legislation. How -- to this initiative. How much of a chance do you think it has of surviving, Patrick?
MADDENI would say -- oh, I'm sorry…
NNAMDISlim and none?
MADDEN…surviving? I don't know. But I think the Republican Congress is going to focus on this. I think they -- I mean, we've seen Andy Harris speak about this. He's the congressman from the Eastern Shore. You know, this -- it'll be interesting to see what happens here because I think Congress -- this is right on the table, it's ripe for the, you know, there for the picking. If they want to, you know, attach riders to fund this, there's a lot of different ways they can attack this maneuver. And also, the city still has to figure out how to tax and sell it. So there are a number of hurdles until this initiative becomes law in the city.
SHERWOODI wonder how Cory Gardner, the senator-elect from Colorado, who's a Republican -- if -- he's going to come to Washington. I mean, the Congress, today, right now I think -- there's a president's meeting with the leaders of the Congress. They have a lot to do. They don't necessarily have to get involved. People thought they would involve -- get themselves involved in same-sex marriage and things like that. And so it may be that the Congress will be so focused on its issues that it won't pay that much attention, particularly if someone like the Colorado senator comes and says, look, let's don't get sidetracked on this.
NNAMDIYou think he is likely to go for the argument that, look, they're not allowed to interfere with it being legalized in Colorado, so why would they want to…
SHERWOODOh, I don't know if it's going to be that high-minded in principle. Just Congress has a lot to do and people have to remember this may take a year.
MADDEN(unintelligible) to be getting much done.
SHERWOODEven if Congress approves it it's going to take six months to write the regulations. At least Muriel Bowser, who just left, said that she would not allow this to be -- have legal marijuana until all the regulatory stuff is in place. And even if we do get it, you can't be on federal property, park land, Dupont Circle or other places with -- because it's still a crime. You got to jail for a year with a $1,000 fine. It's a lot to be worked out on marijuana.
NNAMDIThere were other elections on this day in the District of Columbia. There was a race for the at-large seat on the Council or for two at-large seats on the Council. The incumbent Anita Bonds, Democrat, widely favored to win one of them. The big tossup was as to who the next -- the other person would be. And it turns out that it's Independent, former Democrat, Elissa Silverman.
MADDENAnd former journalist.
NNAMDIAnd former journalist.
SHERWOODFormer Loose Lips.
NNAMDIYes. All of the above.
SHERWOODShe's a lot of formers to be such a young person.1
MADDENYeah, I mean, I -- Elissa ran a great campaign. Obviously she ran before. And that always helps in D.C. politics, if you -- when you run before you get your name out there. It helps, you know, bring out a name recognition fundraising. Elissa obviously ran a great campaign. She clearly was the second choice in this. She's replacing David Catania. It's also interesting that Michael Brown -- the other Michael Brown…
MADDEN…came in third place. That surprised a lot of people. I mean, this was a very…
NNAMDIIt seems to suggest that you've got a better chance in D.C. elections if either, A, you already hold an elected office or, B, you have run before and done fairly well.
MADDENRight. I think that's the playbook, is that you have to run a couple times really to sort of break through and…
NNAMDIGet people to know you.
SHERWOODYou know, if she had wanted to do it -- if Carol Schwartz had run for that at-large seat she'd be preparing to take office on January 2.
NNAMDIYou think so?
SHERWOODShe -- instead of running for mayor, which she was kind of out of the loop on so many things.
NNAMDIGot seven percent, which was even less than I expected in this race. I thought she'd get more.
SHERWOODYeah, well, I -- but she could have run -- I mean, Elissa's going to be a very interesting council member. She worked with the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute.
SHERWOODWhich is a progressive organization for spending on social issues. But she also has shown her ability to compromise and to work within the system. I think she -- she intends, she says, to be a bulldog. And it's going to be interesting to see how she plays out. Charles Allen in Ward 6 is replacing Tommy Wells. You know, I should have asked Muriel Bowser the rumors that Tommy Wells may be in her administration as a transportation director or possibly human services. He won't say. She won't talk. But we'll know in the next couple of weeks.
MADDENAnd Brianne, in Ward 1.
SHERWOODAnd Brianne, in Ward 1. And it's just going to be a new -- a fourth of the Council has changed.
NNAMDIBecause Elissa now holds office does this mean we can no longer ask her about her social life? She's now too powerful for that?
SHERWOODI think she's powerful enough now to answer it.
NNAMDIThe other race, of course, that people were looking at very closely in the District of Columbia was the race for a post that had never been voted for before in this city. The race for attorney general. That was won by Karl Racine, who raised a lot of money, put a lot of his own money into the race.
SHERWOODHalf a million dollars.
NNAMDIAnd I guess the biggest disappointment here must be for Paul Zukerberg who is the one who caused this election to come about in the first place.
NNAMDIAnd was among the early leaders in the polls.
MADDENRight. Without the, you know, Paul Zukerberg really pressing this issue, this wouldn't have been on the ballot. So I think, you know, probably there's some disappointment there that he didn't get more votes, but again, I really think the establishment really came down behind to support Karl Racine. He had the money. He, at the end, had the name recognition, which in a ballot -- in a contest like this that's really important -- just getting your name out there.
SHERWOODHe ran a disciplined campaign. I think people who are associated with Muriel Bowser also were for him. They wanted someone -- he a mature attorney. He's got a -- he knows -- this office is not nearly as political as people made it, in terms of are you for this, are you for that. There's a lot of hum-drum work that has to be done as attorney general. I think people picked someone they thought would be a leader of that office.
NNAMDIIt was interesting because this was the one campaign in which I saw where there didn't seem to be any significant, intense, personal dislike among any of the candidates. Maybe because they're all lawyers and that's the way they manage to conduct themselves. But this was one of the more civil campaigns that we see.
MADDENIt was. Although, at the end there were some -- you were starting to hear…
SHERWOODLorie Masters put out some (unintelligible) tough ad.
MADDENYeah, some news reports about there was overbilling in one person. The other person's not ready to be a manager of such a big operation. But, yeah, I agree. For the most part you could tell this -- it wasn't personal by any means.
NNAMDIA reminder that we'll be joined shortly by Don Beyer. He's member-elect of the U.S. House of Representatives. And we're taking your calls for him. You can start right now at 800-433-8850. You can send email to firstname.lastname@example.org or shoot us a tweet, @kojoshow. But we obviously have to discuss what happened in the state of Maryland…
NNAMDI…where Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown, the Democratic candidate for governor was largely favored to win in the polls, but took a shellacking when you consider that Larry Hogan beat him by five percentage points. Even Larry Hogan himself says he was surprised by the margin of victory. What went right for Hogan? What went wrong for Brown?
SHERWOODWell, he had -- Larry Hogan had an internal poll a couple weeks before, saying he was going to be a win by -- he was head by five points at that time. I mean this is -- Anthony Brown's campaign that was the Hindenburg of the year for the Democrats. I just thought -- and I will say I didn't do a lot of prognostication type stuff, but I did say I thought it was terrible that President Obama had to go to Prince George's County to whip up the vote for Anthony Brown, who's from Prince George's County and a majority African- American.
SHERWOODI just thought that was a red flags flying that -- and then Michelle Obama had to come in and Bill Clinton came in. And then -- now Martin O'Malley is suggesting maybe the campaign wasn't run very well. It was a huge disaster for the Democrats.
MADDENAnd my only experience was I covered the primary night victory for Anthony Brown. And it was just a surreal experience the way reporters were treated. We were basically cordoned off, not really allowed to engage with
NNAMDII remember you reporting that that night.
MADDENYeah, and it just seemed like something was off. And I think that sort of emblematic of what went wrong with that campaign. People didn't really get to know Anthony Brown. They didn't know what he stood for. And I think looking back they just made a number of mistakes.
NNAMDIWell, remember in the primary campaign there was some controversy because his primary opponent Doug Gansler said or implied that all Anthony Brown was running on was that he was going to be the first African-American governor of Maryland. And one would have thought that even though he denied that that was why he was running, that if that was in fact an emphasis, there should have been more of an effort to turn out the African American base because apparently despite the fact that they brought in President Obama…
NNAMDI…that base didn't really turn out in as -- in as large numbers as expected.
MADDENNo. According to the polls.
MADDENEspecially in Prince George's County.
SHERWOODWell, you have to remember, Anthony Brown was chosen because he'd been the lieutenant governor. And O'Malley wanted him to win, in part because O'Malley burnish his -- at this point -- minor presidential credentials. And, you know, remember just before Doug Gansler announced in September, like September 24, like two days before that Barbara Mikulski, who doesn't normally get involved in lots of elections, came out and suddenly endorsed Anthony Brown for governor to embarrass, basically, Doug Gansler.
SHERWOODI mean, Doug Gansler ran the same kind of campaign that Larry Hogan ran. Forty income tax increases in eight years is too many. We've got to adjust this. We're losing business to Virginia and to other places. But Doug Gansler, remember, he had the Bethany Beach party, I think it was, with his son in the pictures. He had complaints about how he was mean to the state patrol officers who were chasing him around. I mean, without those kinds of nicks in his campaign early, he might have beaten Anthony Brown because Brown was basically a dullard on the campaign trail.
MADDENAnd just so many negative ads, both in Maryland and in the Virginia race.
MADDENIt just seems like…
SHERWOOD…don't they all cancel themselves out?
MADDENI guess, but I think that's why turnout was so low across the country.
SHERWOODMaybe our next guest will have some insight into that.
NNAMDIOur next guest is Don Beyer. He's a member-elect of the U.S. House of Representatives. He'll represent Virginia's 8th District as a Democrat. He's a former lieutenant governor and a former ambassador. Don Beyer, congratulations. Thank you so much for joining us.
MR. DON BEYERThank you very much. It's nice to be invited back after many, many years.
SHERWOODDo we call him Mr. Ambassador now?
NNAMDIIf you've got questions or…
SHERWOODOr until you take office, then you'll just be a lowly junior congressman?
NNAMDIHe will tell you to call him Don, but you can call him by…
NNAMDI…any of the titles that he has held.
SHERWOODI think Mr. Ambassador raises the level of the dignity of this program.
NNAMDIIn that case I'll go to our first question, who wants to raise an issue of our guest having been an ambassador. Don your headphones so you can hear John, in Bethesda, Md. John, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
JOHNThanks, Kojo. I'm very interested in Mr. Beyer's time as the ambassador to Switzerland during a time that the U.S. Justice Department dismantled Swiss banking and exercised an outrageous amount of extraterritorial jurisdiction over most banks that it operated with secrecy for hundreds of years. I'm interested to hear some insights about how difficult it must have been to be a diplomat during that period.
NNAMDIHow about what he's going to do as a member of Congress? You're not interested in that at all, John?
JOHNI'm interested in that, too, but I live in Maryland, so I'm a little less interested (unintelligible).
NNAMDIHow will that -- how will that inform your performance here?
BEYERWell, it was the -- probably the hardest diplomatic task of the four years over there. The entire time I was there essentially the U.S. Department of Justice was first after UVS and then later after Credit Swiss and a number of other banks. And by the way, bank secrecy only goes back to 1934. It's not that old. And what I continued to explain to the Swiss people and the Swiss government was that this was not an attack on Swiss banks. It was an attempt to hold Americans living in America, who had cheated on their taxes, responsible, who had broken, essentially, the social contract with all Americans.
BEYERBy the way these, too, these were crimes committed on American shores, not folks who flew to Switzerland with a bag full of money but rather Swiss bankers who came to Miami, to New York, to Chicago to basically suborn perjury, false tax returns and others from Americans living in America.
SHERWOODWell, that's the international view. Now let's go to...
NNAMDIOn to the business at hand. (laugh)
SHERWOODWe'll go to national, and then we've got local. But nationally, the Democrats took a drubbing. You're going to go to a House that's even more Republican, a Senate that's Republican, first time since 2006. How do you hope to get something done, if anything? If you're going to be a freshman, you'll sit in the back of the room and all of that.
BEYERYeah, you know, when I jumped into the race back in January, it was with the expectation that we'd continue to be a Republican House. And part of the reason I ran was because I was so frustrated and embarrassed, angered about how ineffective and broken it was. So I think the -- my essential idea that all life is about relationship, and then I need to go there and be someone to take some of the bitterness and hyper-partisanship out of it, is as relevant or even more relevant in November as it was in January.
NNAMDIWell, let me talk about that because that's the basis on which Senator Mark Warner campaigned. Six years ago, he had an overwhelming victory. He campaigned this time on the basis of trying to establish himself as being bipartisan. And he barely squeaked out a victory on this occasion. And Congressman Gerry Connolly is really saying that what the Democratic base is interested in is not bipartisanship. They seem to be interested in people who will simply stand up to the Republican majority.
NNAMDIHow can you on the one hand attempt to get anything done by being bipartisan and then on the other hand please your supporters by standing up to what they see as the bullying of the majority party?
BEYERWell first of all, I don't think Mark's strategy was wrong. First of all, it was authentic. That really is who he is, and that's who he's always been as governor and a senator. So he had to do that because that was really authentic. And he survived. I mean, most of the other close races, I mean only Jeanne Shaheen, I guess, in the country. So it wasn't a defeat for his strategy, it was a victory for it.
BEYERAnd I don't think Gerry Connolly's valid comments about a Democratic base wanting to stand up for clarity on things like women's reproductive rights and gun safety measures are inconsistent with also saying that we want to work together in a bipartisan way. And I think -- I don't want to retreat from my values and principles, but I do want to find areas of common agreement.
SHERWOODLet's -- can we go to a regional issue? This is a -- I was talking to some people from Virginia today about this. You know, Barbara Mikulski has been the head of the Senate Appropriations Committee. Now she'll be the ranking member. She's been one of the principal proponents of bringing the FBI headquarters, with 11,000 jobs, to Prince George's County. It seems to me that this is an opening with a Republican Senate maybe -- for maybe Virginia to step up its effort to get the FBI headquarters.
SHERWOODYou've got two powerful senators who -- I mean Democratic senators, but it seems to me that the FBI people I've talked to don't want to go to Prince George's County. They want to go to Virginia, but they felt like they were being pushed by the Senate Democrats.
BEYERWell, I don't have much insight into how that Democratic, Senate Democratic tension has worked. I know that in Virginia we'll continue to make our best case that the FBI should come to Springfield. It will hurt to lose both Jim Moran and Frank Wolf, but happily we still have Senator Warner, Senator Kaine and Gerry Connolly.
SHERWOODDid you take a position on the Columbia Pike Streetcar?
BEYERI did. I was very much for the streetcar.
BEYERYeah, but I also thought if, if it is the will of the county to have a referendum, that would be fine. There's nothing wrong with letting citizens weigh in. If they do have the referendum, I will encourage Arlington citizens to vote yes.
NNAMDIOur guest is Don Beyer, member-elect of the U.S. House of Representatives. He'll be representing Virginia's Eighth District as a Democrat. He's a former lieutenant governor of Virginia and a former ambassador. If you have questions or comments for Don Beyer, you can call us at 800-433-8850. You can go to our website, kojoshow.org, watch a live stream of the broadcast or shoot us a tweet @kojoshow. Here's Patrick Madden.
MADDENCongressman-elect, there was a recent court action that declared that the congressional districts in Virginia are unconstitutional for gerrymandering reasons. Obviously this could have a big impact on you just because of what your -- what district you will be representing when you run again in the future. But what do you think is going to happen here? Do you think the general assembly is going to be able to come to a compromise with, you know, a Democratic governor, Republican General Assembly, or is this going to go to the three-judge panel? And that will obviously - there'll be a big difference, right?
BEYERI certainly hope the General Assembly is able to do it. I know there are a number of members of the General Assembly, Democrat and Republican that are looking at it right now. I don't know how much it affects my district. I looked, there's -- I think it's the Washington Post or somebody that has an online ranking of gerrymandering, and the Eighth District is the least gerrymandered district in Virginia, with a relatively low score.
SHERWOODIs it the smallest one also?
BEYERYeah, in terms of square miles.
MADDENBut once you start moving one, you have to sort of move everything around.
BEYERAnd that's okay. I mean, it was convenient and helpful for me to have a very Democratic district, but as an American who believes in democracy, the less gerrymandered, the better. I'm a big fan of independent redistricting.
SHERWOODI want to switch back again to the national level. The president's meeting today with the leadership of the House and Senate, Republicans and Democrats. That includes Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi. Do you think it's time for the Democrats to get new leadership? I mean, will you support Nancy Pelosi to be the -- whatever the title is for not speaker but...
SHERWOODLeader, right, House leader?
BEYERI will, and I will support Nancy for leader and Steny Hoyer for the minority whip. I think they did a really good job. The average congressional loss for a second-term president in the midterms is 29 seats. It looks like we're going to lose 12 or 13. So much better than typically in American history. They worked incredibly hard trying to save the seats that were out there.
BEYERYou know, this was a wave election, people unhappy with where they were economically, unhappy with the president's leadership, and I don't think in any way it reflects on the kind of leadership we got from Ms. Pelosi and Mr. Hoyer.
SHERWOODOne of the things you had campaigned on was improving the federal minimum wage, at $7.25, way behind what inflation has done to that wage. It doesn't seem that a Republican-controlled Congress is going to be very receptive. Do you have any inkling of what it might do?
BEYERAlthough I am optimistic that the four states where the minimum wage was on the ballot, they all passed. And I'm very encouraged at the increasing data that's coming from cities like Seattle, that have raised their minimum wage up to so-called livable wage standards, and still see good economic growth and not a loss of jobs.
BEYERThe old Congressional Budget Office argument that we'll lose 500,000 jobs if they raise the minimum wage, I think there have been many additional data points since then that suggest that's probably not true.
MADDENBut when it comes to federal employees in terms of giving them a pay hike, obviously their salaries have been frozen since furloughs. How realistic is it that this pay increase can happen for federal employees?
BEYERI don't know how realistic it is. I know it will be my responsibility, with enthusiasm, to fight for it. The three years with no wage increase, everyone fell pretty seriously behind. There was a small increase last year. There was a piece in the Post this morning that suggested that the Republican leadership is going to be less favorable to federal employees in general.
BEYERI think that will be too sad, that one of the things we have to do is continue to raise the esteem, the appreciation for our federal employees, who are incredibly valuable for us.
NNAMDIWell, I gotta tell you, the president of the National Federation of Federal Employees seems to be not the least optimistic about this. He's quoted in (unintelligible) as saying that he expects a Republican-controlled Senate would, quoting him, "wield a pretty big hammer as far as putting together a budget," adding, "that it could attempt to do away with entire agencies or departments in the government with Republicans in power. All of the chambers' committees, of course, will flip to Republican leadership in the Senate." Are you, as well, pessimistic?
SHERWOODThat sounds like the Reagan era, but that didn't happen. The government grew.
BEYERWell, I guess I'm -- I'm not that pessimistic, more pessimistic than I was on Monday. (laugh) But I think there's -- again really interesting articles that many of the things that the Republicans have said they would like to do are -- they're going to find more difficult to do when they actually get there, for example on getting rid of the individual mandate in the health insurance or getting rid of the medical device tax.
BEYERAnd there are decent arguments for getting rid of them both, but both create huge fiscal holes. So how do they make up for all that money that's lost? So some of these things are easier to talk about on the campaign trail than to do in real life.
NNAMDIOn to the telephones. Here's Lorne in Arlington, Virginia. Lorne, your turn.
LORNEHi Kojo. Don, I live in Arlington, and I voted for you.
LORNEAnd I hear that you are -- you're welcome. And I'm cautiously optimistic. (laugh) And the reason is, is that you're saying that you support the streetcar. Just this Tuesday, we in Arlington, the Democrats, said no to the streetcar, and we voted in for John Vihstadt, who is a Republican. He's against the streetcar, and it seemed like this election, that was the main issue between the candidates. And I just wanted to see if you would be open to changing your mind about that because we really don't want the streetcar.
BEYERLorne, thanks for your perspective, and I certainly -- not on Kojo's show but talk at length about why I think the streetcar is a good idea. But I also very much respect the will of the voters. And I know Rip Sullivan, the new delegate, is going to introduce legislation in Richmond to put -- to create a referendum on this.
BEYERAnd certainly if the voters vote no on that, that would be -- I'd very much accept that. I don't think the John Vihstadt election was only about the streetcar, though. I mean, the Post's interesting endorsement talked about, you know, after many, many, many years of Democratic control of the Arlington Board, the need for some balance.
BEYERYou know, John ran as a fusion candidate, not as Republican but as somebody trying to bring both sides together, and...
NNAMDIA man who made his living selling cars is supporting the streetcar? (laugh)
SHERWOODWell, there was a picture of you and your wife on the day -- on election day. She was -- Megan, she was holding up her driver's license, I think, I couldn't quite see it, it looks like a driver's license -- to show, prove that she was who she was, voter ID, so she could vote. Did you have to show an ID card?
BEYERI did, in fact I forgot mine. I had to go back to the car to get it. It was a little embarrassing.
SHERWOODDid you show your driver's license or ambassador alumni club card or what? (laugh) I'm getting to a serious question about voter ID and voter suppression. Did you get any sense around that that happened?
BEYERI visited the electoral officials in about 15 precincts and asked every one if they'd had any controversy over the voter ID, and no one said they'd had any, which was pretty interesting. In general, I want to be the -- a political leader who expands the electorate and has more people participate rather than fewer. So at least in the short run, it doesn't look like it had an impact in terms of people showing up and being turned away.
SHERWOODBut maybe you...
BEYERWhat we don't know is the people who didn't come, didn't show up at all.
SHERWOODIt was a nice picture of you guys.
BEYEROh, thank you.
NNAMDI800-433-8850, what is your assessment of whether President Obama has enough clout to move an agenda? He says he's going to use executive authority, for instance, to change the nation's immigration system. What kind of support do you think he will get from you and fellow Democrats in the new Congress?
BEYERI think it will be split. On the one hand, where he uses the executive authority in a responsible, reasonable way, I think we will support him. I mean, he is the president, and presidents do that. But I also think and hope that the Republicans will be reasonable, controlling both houses, that they will come with legislation that the president can sign without having to hold his nose.
MADDENAnd are you worried about -- with this Republican Congress, now the cuts that could be directed toward federal government and obviously the impact that will have on your district?
BEYERI am worried. Our district, you know, the Eighth District has been pretty recession-proof for a long time. You know, I brag that I've led the family business through six recession, but they've been Northern Virginia recessions. But with the sequester, with the shutdown, with the retraction in government contracting and even the federal workforce, it's -- you know, we've been in a much more tenuous economic situation than in a long time. The economy and job is the number one issue in Northern Virginia, as affluent as it is.
NNAMDIStephen Fuller from George Mason University and his group there have said the whole region, Maryland, D.C., cannot depend on the exponential growth of the federal government for considerable period of time.
BEYERI mean, Stephen Fuller very much sort of the clarion warning cry out there. So I think once again, even in my role as a freshmen in the minority, I have to do everything I can to minimize this impact on growth in Virginia.
MADDENDo you know what committees you would like to be a part of? I know it's early.
BEYERIt's still early, and, you know, I'm going to work hard wherever I'm placed.
SHERWOODWell, you know, you ran for governor, was it, what, '97. What year was it?
SHERWOODNinety-seven, and Jim Gilmore won.
SHERWOODEd Gillespie, put on your analysis hat, this is "The Politics Hour."
NNAMDIThat was my next question. Very good. (laugh)
SHERWOODWell, I thought you'd never get to it. No, I apologize for jumping on your question.
NNAMDIThat's all right.
SHERWOODBut I (unintelligible) you know, Ed Gillespie, if he had gotten a little more national Republican attention, maybe he would've pulled off maybe the bigger upset than Anthony Brown losing the governor's race in Maryland.
BEYERI think we were lucky that the National Republican Senate Committee didn't weigh in.
SHERWOODIt was so remarkable. Now Ed Gillespie's already being talked about, of course, as running for governor in two years hence, in, what, 2017. What do you think about that race, other than being lucky that the Republicans chose to be elsewhere?
BEYERWell, I think many of our political wonks early on thought that the reason Ed was running was to set himself up for 2017. After the sweep with McAuliffe, Northam and Herring, there was no obvious Republican candidate. But I think -- and then when he was behind by 25 points in Labor Day, I thought, well, this isn't going to work really well.
BEYERBut with that narrow a victory for Mark Warner, I think Gillespie's in a good position to take on Northam, Herring or whatever Democratic candidate emerges.
NNAMDIWhy do you think the victory was that narrow?
BEYERI think the national wave. I think I very much attribute it to the one-third of all voters who came out to essentially vote against the president and the way they felt about the economy right now.
NNAMDIOn to Tommy in Gaithersburg, Maryland, who also wants to talk about the minimum wage. Tommy, your turn.
TOMMYHi, guys. I just wanted to touch on minimum wage real quick because I'm just wondering why it is such an issue when they could probably easily just incorporate it with inflation. You know, why wouldn't -- it's like why wouldn't government officials and, you know, people who vote on things like this, why wouldn't they just incorporate with, with inflation instead of making it a constant issue every election?
BEYERTommy, that's a great question, and the minimum wage proposal that I and many others have campaigned on calls for indexing it to inflation in the future so that you have one big debate now, and then you don't have to do it again.
NNAMDIAnd by inflation now, it's $7.25. If you went by inflation now, it would be, what, about $9.25, $9.50?
BEYEROr even some say that you have to take it back to $10.25 to take it to where it was in 1974.
NNAMDIBut of course the argument against that is made by people who say if you raise the minimum wage, it will lead to greater inflation because prices invariably follow salaries, and if people are making more money, then prices will follow those salaries. How do you respond?
BEYERI think there will be some things that will follow that. You know, we were in Switzerland for four years, where the minimum wage is about $53,000 a year. So a Big Mac is about $10. (laugh) I mean you really, you do see that directly. But there are many, many other things that would not be affected by a minimum wage increase.
SHERWOODDo we have time to ask about climate change? Because you have...
NNAMDIYou have two minutes, one minute and 53 seconds.
SHERWOODI'll just very quickly ask you, again given the climate of politics in the nation now, with the Republican resurgence, who on the Republican side is concerned about climate change?
BEYERWell, I know Michael Grimm was like the first elected Republican to come out for it, and interestingly, he won over Domenic Recchia in Staten Island. One of my goals -- by the way, climate change doesn't poll high, but I very much think the responsibility of leaders it to think long-term. And everything you see from the science says that is going to be a major issue for us in the years to come. And my goal will be to try to take it out of a Democratic-versus-Republican, right-versus-left paradigm so we can talk about the science.
MADDENAnd just quickly, gun safety, gun issues, this is something that -- you were one of the few Democrats, I think, to really bring this issue up, especially in a purple state. Any chance that there'll be any traction here on the issue for all the different issues with gun violence?
BEYERWell, I know I'm going to keep trying to lead on it, and the focus will not be massive gun-control things but rather how do we keep guns out of the hands of the dangerously mentally ill, how do we keep criminals from buying them.
NNAMDIDon Beyer is a member-elect of the U.S. House of Representatives. He'll be representing Virginia's Eighth District as a Democrat, former lieutenant governor of Virginia, former ambassador. Mr. Ambassador, Mr. Congressman-elect, thank you very much for joining us.
BEYERThank you, Kojo, very much.
NNAMDITom Sherwood is our resident analyst. He's an NBC 4 reporter and a columnist for the Current Newspapers. Now that this long election season is over, any plans?
SHERWOODI'm going to be on an arena stage tonight with Diane Rehm. We're part of the Civil War program. I'm playing the part of a Union general, despite my accent. (laugh)
NNAMDITom Sherwood, thespian. Patrick Madden is our guest today. He is a reporter for WAMU 88.5. Patrick, always a pleasure.
MADDENThank you, Kojo.
NNAMDIAnd thank you all for listening. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
NNAMDIComing up Monday on "The Kojo Nnamdi Show," University of Maryland President Wallace Loh on a new sexual misconduct policy, efforts to make College Park a college town, and the Terrapins debut in the Big 10. Then at 1:00, crime and corruption and the war on terror. Journalist James Risen divulges new details even as he faces jail time for protecting a source. "The Kojo Nnamdi Show," noon 'til 2:00 Monday on WAMU 88.5 and streaming at kojoshow.org.
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