D.C. Democrats Top Priority: Re-Electing Obama

James Wright | 6/27/2012, 3:33 p.m.

District Supporters Will Travel to Various States to Campaign for the President

District Democrats expressed strong support for President Obama and pledged to work this fall to keep him in the White House for another four years during an annual fundraising soiree in Northwest.

The D.C. Democratic State Committee held its 26th Kennedys-King Gala at the Washington Hilton Hotel on Thursday, June 21. Hundreds of politicians and political activists mingled and chatted about the upcoming presidential election in November.

"I am planning to campaign for President Obama in North Carolina," said Frank Wilds, a former candidate for the Ward 5 D.C. Council seat. Wilds, 68, campaigned on behalf of Obama during the 2008 presidential race. "I will be spending a lot of time in Raleigh to help the president win. There is no need for me to stay here."

Wilds' efforts must have paid off. Obama eked out a win by carrying the state with less than 14,000 votes. The last Democrat to win North Carolina in a presidential race was Jimmy Carter in 1976.

The District of Columbia is the only jurisdiction that has voted for Democratic nominees since it participated in its first national election in 1964 as a result of the 23rd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, ratified in 1961, giving it three electoral votes in the Electoral College. The District delivers strongly for Democrats even during the election years of 1972 when President Richard Nixon defeated Democrat George McGovern decisively throughout the country and in 1984 when President Ronald Reagan overwhelmed Democrat Walter Mondale by a historic electoral landslide.

In 2008, Obama won 92 percent of the District's vote over GOP nominee Sen. John McCain, his largest margin in a jurisdiction that year. The president is expected to win the District handily, which is why many D.C. Democrats will join Wilds and campaign in other states.

Former D.C. Council member Betty Ann Kane, who is the chairman of the D.C. Public Service Commission, said she will work for Obama in New England.

"I have a daughter who lives in Maine and when I visit her this fall, I will campaign for the president," said Kane, 70. "I can do everything for President Obama but raise money. The Hatch Act allows me to participate in political activities so when I go to Maine I will participate in phone banking and go where I am needed."

Obama did well in Maine in 2008, winning 57 percent of the vote, but political observers have put nearby New Hampshire in the swing state category.

Phinis Jones, a well-known businessman and political activist in Ward 8, said that he will help Obama in Pennsylvania. Obama won the Keystone State with 54 percent of the vote but it's always in contention in presidential election years because of the unexpected turnout in the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh metropolitan areas.

"I will be knocking on doors to tell people to vote for the president," said Jones, 64.

Charles Wilson, an advisory neighborhood commissioner in Ward 8, said that he's telling his friends and family in the Washington region and other places to register to vote in the general election.

"I am telling them to do what they can in their own states," said Wilson, 36. "I am [telling] them that they cannot take this election lightly."

In his address, former United Nations Ambassador Andrew Young urged Obama "not to ignore the South but campaign there."

"There are a lot of changes going on in the South that focus groups and polling cannot predict," said Young, 80, who served two terms as mayor of Atlanta.

U.S. Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.), the Assistant Democratic Leader, said that "four states that are close to D.C.: North Carolina, Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania will determine whether or not we will keep Barack Obama."

Despite all of the political banter, guests definitely enjoyed the evening. D.C. Council member Yvette Alexander (D-Ward 7) danced with political activists Kemry Hughes and Keith Perry to the song "Statehood for D.C.", by LCB: Leonard, Coleman and Blunt.

Robert Brannum, a Ward 5 Democrat, said that serious work lies ahead.

"First, I am going to the convention in Charlotte to see Obama re-nominated," said Brannum, 59. "Then, I am going to campaign in Virginia like I did in 2008. I will help the team deliver his message door-to-door."