the blog of DC Drinking Liberally

July 6, 2006

Too Many Candidates, and the Importance of Deadlines


Yesterday was the deadline for candidates to file nominating petitions for DC’s September 12 primary. I was sort of hoping that a few of the long list of Ward 3 council candidates might not make it, and thus simplify my decision, but it looks like they all got theirs in. Of course things could be worse — I could be in Ward 5, where there are 14 candidates.

Everyone has the right to run, but if we’re going to have so many candidates we really need a system that handles it better. Since there’s no runoff, a winner in the primary could end up having the support of only a small fraction of the electorate. Besides, this is a Democratic primary election in a very liberal city, so the candidates don’t disagree on much. I feel much the same annoyance I do at having to choose between dozens of brands and types of toothpaste. No doubt that makes me a foe of both capitalism and democracy.

All of us who have ever missed a deadline should spare a little sympathy for one prospective candidate:

But Ward 6 Democratic hopeful Will Cobb forgot about yesterday’s deadline.

“Holy cow, I got them sitting in my house right now,” he told a reporter after getting a call.

Cobb’s campaign manager, Jessica Strieter, raced down to the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics but arrived at 5:45 p.m., 45 minutes after the deadline.

Cobb said he had collected 560 signatures during an aggressive door-to-door campaign to replace retiring incumbent Sharon Ambrose.

I don’t imagine he’s having a very good day today. Still, keeping track of details is part of the job.


  1. Metro Section: Installing A Stripper Pole To Hold Up The Ceiling

    It doesn’t take much to run for city council in DC, but you do have to show up. [DCDL] Home is where the heart is - unless the heart is in a shit hole that resembles Bushwick during the crack…

    Wonkette6:10 pm

  2. Eliminate the primaries.

    Many West Coast cities (including all in California) and many foreign cities don’t have them. It costs the city money to have a primary and in the end does it serve much of a purpose in such a liberal city?

    Couple the end of primaries with a run-off system — instant run-off voting is the most cost effective and assures the highest voter turnout for the entire process. With the loss of primaries in DC elections, you would lose the party system as well, to some extent, but even my hometown in Illinois — which didn’t have primaries, or local parties — everyone knew what parties the candidates supported in county, statewide or national elections.

    The primacy of the parties is lost (which may be a good thing when you are talking about a city of only a half a million), but that is replaced by a more nuanced approach to the individual policy positions of the candidates.

    Christopher4:33 pm, July 8

  3. Christopher, the primary does serve a purpose in DC. It’s effectively the real election. If anything it’s the general election that serves no purpose. Still, it would be good to combine the primary and the general. Louisiana does something like that with its “jungle primaries”, but those are still followed by a runoff between the top two candidates.

    I would like to see experimentation with systems like instant runoff voting at the local level in the US. If we can get people to accept them, then they can be implemented at higher levels and maybe eventually we’d no longer have the problem that third-party presidential candidates can’t be anything but spoilers helping whichever of the two major parties agrees with them least.

    Keith12:37 pm, July 9

post a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.


DCDL is a blog by Washington, DC-area members of Drinking Liberally. Opinions expressed are the writers’, not those of Drinking Liberally, which provides no funding or other support for this blog.

Upcoming Events

See information on the revived DC chapter (2012).

DCDL Member Blogs

DCDL Speaker Links

DC Links

Liberal (Mostly) Blogs

Liberal Groups

Internal Links


Drinking Liberally

Recent Comments

Recent Posts


Search Blog



46 queries. 0.278 seconds