DC Board of Elections rules McDuffie not qualified to run for attorney general

D.C.’s Board of Elections dealt a significant blow to Ward 5 Council Member Kenyan McDuffie’s bid for attorney general on Monday, ruling that he isn’t qualified to run for the seat.

The board found that McDuffie has not been “actively engaged” as a lawyer for at least five of the past 10 years, as D.C. law requires.

The stipulations in the code are that an attorney general candidate must be:

“(A) An attorney in the practice of law in the District of Columbia;

(B) A judge of a court in the District of Columbia;

(C) A professor of law in a law school in the District of Columbia; or

(D) An attorney employed in the District of Columbia by the United States or the District of Columbia.”

McDuffie can appeal the decision with the D.C. Court of Appeals.

The challenge to McDuffie’s candidacy was brought by Bruce Spiva, who’s also vying for the AG position.

“The people of D.C. deserve an attorney general who is ready on Day One to take on the responsibilities of the office. That’s why the Council enacted, and District voters approved, these specific, minimum qualifications that council member McDuffie failed to meet,” Spiva campaign manager Alaina Haworth said in a statement.

In a statement posted on Twitter, McDuffie called the board’s ruling “an attack on our democracy and on working people in D.C.”

“… We’re taking this ruling to the courts where we expect to win on appeal,” he said. “Just this morning, several of the original authors of the statute discredited this challenge as being well outside the intent of the language they helped write.”

A senior adviser to McDuffie’s campaign, Chuck Thies, said the board rushed to judgment, and added that Spiva is looking to win on a technicality.

“This ruling disenfranchises Kenyan on a technicality and a technicality that may not exist,” Thies added.

Spiva said he was “gratified, but not surprised” by the ruling.

“We felt that the plain language of the statute was very clear,” he said, “and it sets forth some minimum qualifications that all candidates for D.C. attorney general have to meet.”

Will Vitka

William Vitka is a Digital Writer/Editor for WTOP.com. He's been in the news industry for over a decade. Before joining WTOP, he worked for CBS News, Stuff Magazine, The New York Post and wrote a variety of books—about a dozen of them, with more to come.

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