WASHINGTON -- Fiona Greig is bowing out from the race to unseat longtime District of Columbia Councilmember Jack Evans (D-Ward 2).
In a statement posted to her campaign website, Greig says she is leaving the race after being browbeaten by Evans and his supporters:
A consultant for the Evans campaign, Tom Lindenfeld, denied Greig's allegations in an interview with Patch.
Perhaps I was naive, but I didn’t expect to face an intimidation campaign by a 20-year-incumbent and his supporters. At home, I received muffled phone calls telling me about the "dirt" my opponent had on me. Someone wanting to hold a Meet and Greet for me received nasty emails from the opposing campaign. And I learned from a city agency that a well-known private investigator whose firm does "surveillance" and "domestic investigations" had requested my records. Maybe that explains the man who repeatedly walked past my house one night, looking in the windows.
All this occurred because I thought it would be good for voters to have another choice on the ballot. In my opinion, this intimidation campaign just isn't right. We need to change the nature of the local DC politics to welcome more residents to take part in our political process--not spend time and money to shut them out. Without more resident participation, we know which voices will get heard. In this election, more than 50 percent of contributions to the Evans campaign come from big business -- developers, parking garages and restaurants, many of whom hide their ownership behind limited liability companies. In economics we call this "extracting rents" -- no business would give to a campaign if there wasn't something to gain. This has led me to see the need for strong campaign finance reform, and I plan on lending my voice and time to this effort.
"There’s no private investigator involved anywhere, that’s total fiction," Lindenfeld told Patch, saying that the Evans campaign did not conduct any opposition research. "There are things that as a matter of course anyone does, but that is public documents, not opposition research.
Greig was in the news last week when a list of donor targets, one described as "homosexual," another as "super wealthy," was released in a fundraising report.
On the blog Greater Greater Washington, Ken Archer -- chair of Greig's campaign -- laments Greig's decision to leave the race, and says that the candidate may have been "somewhat naive to the ways of DC politics," but that the hardscrabble council election culture is a systemic problem that keeps good candidates out of the race:
More from Patch.
Should she have expected these hardball tactics? Probably. But ask yourself this. How many other talented young individuals in DC have made the same decision to avoid politics? DC residents complain all the time about our councilmembers. But we can't complain about our representatives while defending the process that keeps better people from running.
It's a shame that Ward 2 voters now have no choice when it comes to their councilmember. I'm not discouraged, though. Every day it seems more and more District residents are fed up with politics as usual. I'm hoping to hear from others in Ward 2 who want a more inclusive government, and are more interested in digging through budgets than through an insurgent candidate's trash.
This post has been updated with comment from the Evans campaign.