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LOU CHIBBARO JR


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Catania leads gay candidates in fundraising   Gay
Pannell outpaces rival in race for shadow Senate seat

LOU CHIBBARO JR
Friday, September 01, 2006

Gay D.C. Councilmember David Catania was far ahead of his three fellow openly gay candidates running in the city’s 2006 election in raising campaign funds as of Aug. 10, the most recent deadline for candidates to file finance reports with the city.

According to the D.C. Office of Campaign Finance, Catania, who is running for re-election to his at-large Council seat as an independent, raised $330,876.

Gay D.C. Councilmember Jim Graham, who is seeking re-election to his Ward 1 seat as a Democrat, raised $208,761.

Mayoral candidate Artee Milligan, who has said he is gay but would not make an issue of his sexual orientation in his campaign, pulled in $28,233 as of the Aug. 10 filing date. His finance report shows that $20,000 of that total came from a loan rather than contributions from donors.

Veteran D.C. gay activist Phil Pannell, who is running for the city’s shadow U.S. Senate seat, has raised $7,157, a figure considered substantial for the unpaid position that serves as a voluntary lobbying post for D.C. voting rights.

Pannell’s rival in the Sept. 12 Democratic primary, civic activist Mike Brown, raised $940 in contributions as of the Aug. 10 filing date, his finance report shows.

As an independent, Catania will appear on the ballot in the November general election in a race where as many as seven candidates will compete for two at-large seats. The two highest vote getters are awarded the seats.

Catania’s fellow incumbent in the race, Councilmember Phil Mendelson, a Democrat, is running against A. Scott Bolden in a heated primary race, with the outcome uncertain. Based on the city’s overwhelmingly Democratic voter registration rolls, the Democratic nominee — either Mendelson or Bolden — is expected to easily win one of the two at-large seats in November.

At least two of Catania’s rivals in the general election for the second seat are Republican newcomer Marcus Skelton and Statehood-Green Party candidate Ann Wilcox, who are running unopposed in their party primaries on Sept. 12.

Independent candidates Q.G. Caldwell, Antionio Dominguez, and Michael T. Green took out petitions to have their names placed on the November ballot. But the D.C. Board of Elections & Ethics was not expected to issue a ruling on whether they obtained enough valid signatures to qualify for the ballot until next week. Aug. 30 was the deadline for submitting petitions for the November election.

 

Catania enjoys bipartisan support

Most political observers consider Catania the odds-on favorite to win re-election. First elected to the Council as a Republican in 1997 in a special election, Catania dropped his Republican affiliation in 2004 in response to President Bush’s support and advocacy for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.

But long before he broke his ties with the Republicans, Catania attracted large numbers of crossover support from D.C. Democrats, including gay Democrats, who praised his role as an aggressive advocate for reform who pushed to improve city services. As chair of the Council’s Committee on Health, Catania pushed through changes in the city’s AIDS office that activists said were long overdue.

Catania’s candidacy poses a dilemma for local gay Republicans and the Log Cabin Republicans of D.C., a gay group. Catania had once been the club’s champion and standard-bearer on the Council before he parted ways with the GOP. This year marks the first time the city’s Republican Party, headed by gay GOP chair Bob Kabel, has fielded a Republican candidate to oppose Catania.

Kabel said Skelton is “strongly committed” to supporting gay rights and AIDS-related issues in the District.

But D.C. gay Republican activist Carl Schmid said a number of prominent local Republicans have already made their intentions known.

“They’ve held fundraisers for Catania,” said Schmid, who added, “I will vote for David.”

The Aug. 10 finance report filings show that Skelton had raised $2,250 as of that date, and Statehood-Green Party candidate Ann Wilcox had raised $350, an indication, according to D.C. political observers, that they are unlikely to present a serious challenge to Catania.

 

Bolden challenges GLAA rating

A spokesperson for at-large D.C. Council candidate A. Scott Bolden said Bolden was surprised and upset that the Gay & Lesbian Activists Alliance gave Bolden a rating of +4.5 on gay and AIDS issues while awarding a +10, the highest possible rating, to incumbent Councilmember Phil Mendelson.

“GLAA rates candidates the same way the Russians rate figure skaters,” said Bolden campaign consultant and spokesperson Chuck Thies, referring to the Olympic skating flap in which Russian judges were accused of being biased.

Thies said Bolden’s strong support for gay rights, including his advocacy as former chair of the D.C. Democratic Party to expand gay participation in party affairs shows he deserved a higher rating.

GLAA President Barett Brick said the group stands by its rating. He said GLAA took into account Bolden’s past support on gay issues but chose to withhold rating points in response to what he said was Bolden’s expression of support for gay marriage before a gay audience and tacit opposition to it before church groups.

Bolden told the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club he supported same-sex marriage in principle but believes it would be imprudent for the city to pass a gay marriage bill until the city can be reasonably certain that Congress would not overturn it.

But Brick pointed to a recent story in the Washington Informer newspaper, in which Bolden was quoted as saying, “Marriage is a relationship between you, your God and your church. I don’t believe the government should be in the business of sanctioning gay marriage.”

 

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