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D.C. Political Roundup: Norton Recruits Allies in D.C. Riders' Fight

James Wright | 6/5/2013, 4 p.m.

D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) has gotten the support of several influential advocacy and grassroots organizations as she fights amendments to District appropriation bills – known as riders – that are put on legislation without her approval.

Norton announced the support of advocacy organizations – whom she referred to as "freedom fighters" – at a press conference on Capitol Hill on May 28, with D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray (D) by her side. The allies include DC Vote, a pro-District voting rights organization in Northwest; Planned Parenthood Federation of America, a national advocate for family planning headquartered in New York; and the Northwest-based Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. Norton, 75, said she’s grateful for their assistance.

"They have notified House and Senate appropriators that if anti-home rule amendments were attached to the D.C. appropriations bill, organizations throughout the country would alert their members in the appropriators' districts that their member of Congress was spending his or her time in Washington trying to intervene in the local affairs of the District of Columbia instead of attending to the urgent needs of his or her district and the nation," she said.

Kimberly Perry, the executive director of DC Vote, said that Norton is right to insist that the U.S. Congress should leave the District alone.

"We must remind the Congress that the D.C. Home Rule Act was passed specifically to relieve Congress of having to legislate on local D.C. issues," said Perry, 42. "We call on Congress to refrain from efforts that undermine local democracy and instead focus on policy solutions that will advance democracy and allow full equality for D.C. residents."

Mendelson Wants Primary Date Changed

If D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) has his way, the 2014 District political primaries will be held the second Tuesday in June and not on the first Tuesday in April.

Mendelson is the author of the "District of Columbia Primary Date Alteration Amendment Act of 2013", which would change the primaries date from April 1 to June 10. He has two reasons for the change.

"First, there are many months before the election and the start of the new D.C. Council term," said Mendelson, 60, referring to the new term starting in January 2015. "That can be harmful to the function of government. That is why the federal government changed the inauguration date of the president from March 4 to Jan. 20 in 1937."

The second reason, Mendelson said, has to do with campaigning for political office during the Christmas-New Year’s holiday season.

"The voters don't like that and it is hard on the candidates," he said.

D.C. Council members Kenyan McDuffie (D-Ward 5), Anita Bonds (D-At Large), Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3), Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) and Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) have agreed to co-sponsor Mendelson's legislation. McDuffie's Committee on Government Operations held a hearing on the bill on May 29.

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray (D) supports the idea of changing the date of the primaries.

"April does not give people enough time to know, hear and meet all of the people who are running for office," said Gray, 70.

Evans Jumps in Mayor's Race

D.C. Council member Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) will announce his candidacy for District mayor on June 8 at Le Diplomate in Northwest at 10 a.m.

"I am running for mayor," Evans, 59, said on May 30 during a party for Anita Bonds at Georgia Brown’s restaurant in Northwest.

Evans ran for the Democratic Party nomination for mayor in 1998 but lost to Anthony Williams, who went on to become the city's fourth elected mayor that November. He joins D.C. Council members Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4) and Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) in the race for the Democratic Party nomination.

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray (D) has not indicated whether he will run for re-election yet.