Before the D.C. Democratic State Committee chose its candidates for delegate to the National Convention I wrote a column that began, "Many have asked what the purpose of the D.C. Democratic State Committee is. In a city that is so overwhelmingly Democratic it has very little to do and they prove time and time again that even with little to do they can't do it well."
Now they are about to prove that again with the process for appointing an interim At-large Councilmember to fill the seat of Phil Mendelson who was elected Council Chair. This election will be held on December 10th by a group of 80 or 81 people, the number varies depending on who you speak too, and will most likely be a vote by secret ballot to fill the seat for about three months at which time a special election will be held.
The fact that we have a system that allows this seems questionable on its face and appears to be a total waste of time and money. The last time this process took place Sekou Biddle and Vincent Orange competed to be appointed to the Council by the State Committee. Biddle won but then lost to Orange in the special election three months later. I can easily see this scenario repeated this time with the winner of the secret State Committee vote losing a few months later at the ballot box.
The question has to be what will this appointed Council member do in the three months they are there aside from collect a salary and pay out salaries to staff? The answer is probably nothing, aside from running for the office while collecting a salary paid for by the city's taxpayers.
Now there is no problem with the concept of a Democratic State Committee, but it should be run well and openly. It should be a place where young people can get involved in government and learn how to do things in an open and transparent way. The time has come to end the backroom deals.
We are an overwhelmingly Democratic town and I, for one, have no problem with that. The people in the District support the principles of the national Democratic Party. Some have called for a more robust Republican Party, or if that is not possible, open primaries. A more robust Republican Party is a great idea but open primaries make no sense. The D.C. Republican State Committee is as closed and insular as the Democratic State Committee. Republicans will never have a strong party here as long as they have national candidates like Mitt Romney running who are for defunding Planned Parenthood; are pro-life; anti-Dream Act; and oppose marriage-equality and basic civil and human rights for the LGBT community. Republicans running for office in D.C. who say they are not for these things, yet turn around and endorse their party's national candidates are examples of hypocrisy at its worst and don't deserve to be elected.
So the issues I have with the Democratic State Committee are not anti-Democratic. They are more of a plea for openness and getting more people involved who can help run the organization in a way that we Democrats in the city can be proud of.