Bowser, Norton win DC Democratic primary

Incumbent Muriel Bowser withstood the challenge to her leadership and emerged victorious as the Democratic candidate for mayor of D.C.

Bowser effectively sailed into her third term Tuesday — a feat managed only by predecessor Marion Barry, who was nicknamed “Mayor for Life.”

In deep-blue D.C., the winner of the Democratic primary is all but guaranteed the seat. Bowser’s victory will be locked down in November, when voters notch the ballot between her and Republican candidate Stacia Hall.

In her address to supporters Tuesday night, Bowser said she was “humbled and grateful” to be selected for the third time. She recalled the words of Barry, who told her that it takes courage to be mayor of the District of Columbia.

She counted her accomplishments as mayor, including her efforts to build more affordable housing and to decrease homelessness. She also looked toward the future.

“We’re going to build a state-of-the-art hospital. And we know even with all that we have accomplished, our city is in a precious time, isn’t it? And we need energy and experience to come back from COVID. So tonight, we choose a future where we won’t lose our ‘Chocolate City;’ we will continue to be a city where Black Washingtonians thrive,” Bowser said.

Bowser said that she is looking forward to working with the other selected candidates, including Council Chair Phil Mendelson and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, incumbents who both won their primaries.

“We know elections are tough, right? There’s competition for ideas, right? And when we have a good election season, we have a lot of good ideas,” she said.

Bowser outran Council members Robert White and Trayon White, who she said both called to congratulate her on her victory, and businessman James Butler.

Another ‘Mayor for Life’?

Should Bowser win in the general election, she would be the second mayor to win three consecutive terms, tying with Barry, who presided over the city continuously from 1979 to 1991.

During her second term, Bowser faced off with former President Donald Trump, perhaps most visibly when she named the section of 16th Street Northwest in front of the White House “Black Lives Matter Plaza.” This happened after Trump posed for a photo in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church in 2020, clearing the crowds of people who were protesting against the killing of George Floyd.

With her second term — marked by the coronavirus pandemic, the Trump presidency and uncontrolled gentrification — behind her, she tackles the problem of spiraling homicide and violent crime rates. There’s also the issue of D.C. statehood, which Bowser alluded to Tuesday night. Last year, the U.S. Senate held a historic hearing on D.C. statehood.

Crime and public safety have dominated the mayoral campaign. Homicides have risen for four years straight, and the 2021 murder count of 227 was the highest since 2003, The Associated Press reported.

As activists called for defunding the police, Bowser largely stood by her police department. Pro-police with a tough-on-crime stance, she butted heads with members of the D.C. Council, saying that they are not fully supporting her proposal for more police officers.

Robert White told WTOP that there needs to be an audit to understand how many police officers are needed and where.

“Just suggesting we need more police officers is not a plan, so we need to know how many police officers we need in our city and where we need them,” Robert White said.

Trayon White had a similar message, saying earlier this month that there is a need for police but it’s not the “end-all solution.”

DC delegate, attorney general and council results

The Democrats were the only party with primary races; all other party candidates ran unopposed. The winner of the Democratic primary is the favorite in the November general election in the heavily Democratic city.

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton was the projected winner for delegate to Congress. She was with Bowser’s team Tuesday night. Norton has been the D.C. delegate since 1991, and she will face Republican Nelson Rimensnyder.

For D.C. Council chair, Mendelson was the projected winner of the Democratic race, beating challenger Erin Palmer. He faces Republican Nate Derenge in November.

In council races, Zachary Parker was the projected winner in Ward 5, beating several rivals for the seat being vacated by Kenyan McDuffie, who did not run for reelection. Clarence Lee is the Republican nominee for Ward 5.

Ward 1 incumbent Brianne Nadeau held on to the nomination, beating Salah Czapary and Sabel Harris. No Republicans are running in Nadeau’s race.

Democratic candidate for Ward 6 Council member Charles Allen was unopposed and was projected the party’s winner, as well.

Before the race for D.C. attorney general was called for Brian Schwalb, Bruce Spiva conceded the race Tuesday night. Spiva was the one who challenged the candidacy of Kenyan McDuffie for D.C. attorney general. McDuffie later suspended his campaign.

Schwalb thanked D.C. voters, and said, “This is a victory for the people of Washington.” He said his “fresh approach” resonated with people.

“I think Washington, D.C. just appreciated the fact that I was just out there trying to listen to them, and spend time in every ward, and every neighborhood, using two ears to listen to people in the community. What they love about our city, what they would like to see our government do,” Schwalb told WTOP.

Early Wednesday morning, the projected winner for the At-Large member of the D.C. Council was called for Anita Bonds, who will face Republican Giuseppe Niosi in November.

Matt Frumin, who ran for Mary Cheh’s outgoing Ward 3 council seat race, declared victory Wednesday after obtaining 38% of the vote. Eric Goulet, who had the second-highest vote total with 31%, conceded the race just before midnight.

Once confirmed the primary victor, Frumin will take on Republican David Krucoff, who ran unopposed.

Shadow Rep. Oye Owolewa, who is being challenged by Linda L. Gray, tweeted thanks to all of his supporters shortly after 8 a.m. Wednesday.

With 60.4% of votes counted, Gray leads 50.6% to Owolewa’s 49.4% — a difference of 840 votes.

While that race has not yet been called by AP, Owolewa acknowledged he may not win — but wasn’t ready to concede.

WTOP’s Will Vitka, Matt Small and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Abigail Constantino

Abigail Constantino started her journalism career writing for a local newspaper in Fairfax County, Virginia. She is a graduate of American University and The George Washington University.

River Oaks Elementary School in Woodbridge is a polling place for Va’s 7th District for Republican primary — six candidates are in the ballot. Each hopes to take on Democrat Abigail Spanberger this fall. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
Here in Va’s 7th District, 6 GOP primary candidates are running for a chance to take on Democrat incumbent Abigail Spanberger. By 10am, 7 people voted at Potomac Middle School. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
At the Chevy Chase Community Center, primary voting early in the morning has been really slow. Just a handful of voters have been here in the first hour that polls were open. (WTOP/Nick Iannelli)
Mayor Muriel Bowser shakes hands while supporters chant “four more years” as the D.C. primary elections begin. (WTOP/Nick Iannelli)
Virginia’s District 8 voters have one item on the ballot: the district’s House seat. Voters will enter privacy areas and select either incumbent House Democrat Don Beyer or Victoria Virasingh. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
Signs adorn the lawn of the Chevy Chase Community Center as polling locations prepare to open for the D.C. primary elections. (WTOP/Nick Iannelli)
Most polling places in Virginia have drop boxes near the entrances for sealed absentee ballots. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
Primary Election Day begins at George C. Marshall High School, in Falls Church. Virginia’s District 8 is made up of parts of Fairfax and Arlington counties, as well as Falls Church and Alexandria. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
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