The Post endorses Muriel Bowser for D.C. mayor

The Post endorses Muriel Bowser for D.C. mayor

WASHINGTON, DC – SEPTEMBER 18: Muriel Bowser (D) makes her introduction speech at the first DC Mayoral debate in Washington, DC on September 18, 2014. (Linda Davidson/The Washington Post)

By Editorial Board October 17 at 1:40 PM

D.C. RESIDENTS have reason to be disaffected with city government and politics. The incumbent mayor has operated under the shadow of the illegal campaign fundraising that helped to put him in office. Three members of the D.C. Council left their offices in disgrace. This sad state of affairs played a part in the unusually low turnout for the April primary, and it may help explain why many voters say they remain uninspired by the mayoral election just 2½ weeks away.

We hope they look again. This is a critical election, and it offers a clear choice. Despite the ethical cloud that has hung over Mayor Vincent C. Gray and contributed to his defeat in the Democratic primary, he will leave office in January with the city on generally sound footing. Its finances are healthy, its schools are attracting more families every year and many neighborhoods are reinvigorated. His successor must maintain that momentum while providing the leadership to confront new challenges.

Muriel Bowser, Ward 4’s representative on the council and the Democratic nominee, is the candidate best prepared to provide that leadership. We endorsed her in the primary but acknowledged it was not an easy choice because of the capable opponents then running against her. We faced no such dilemma this time. Neither council member David A. Catania (I-At Large) nor former council member Carol Schwartz comes close to Ms. Bowser in temperament, work ethic, ideas, policy understanding and balanced approach.

We don’t discount Ms. Schwartz’s past accomplishments (notwithstanding her wrong-headed opposition to the mayor’s takeover of the schools) or her love of the city, but sentimentality cannot advance the District or the interests of its residents. She has failed to present a credible rationale for her independent candidacy.

Mr. Catania also can point to accomplishments in his 17 years on the D.C. Council, including his advocacy for same-sex marriage and his oversight of health care in the District. But he also has been on the wrong side of many important issues. If it were up to Mr. Catania, it is likely there would be no city-financed baseball stadium for the Nationals to play in and no convention center to attract visitor dollars, not to mention the hundreds of jobs created by both projects. The money-draining D.C. General Hospital might still be limping along. That Mr. Catania seems unable to concede he might have been wrong is all the more troubling.

Also worrisome has been Mr. Catania’s stewardship of the council’s education committee, which roughly coincided with his interest in becoming mayor. Instead of forging a meaningful collaboration with the city’s able schools chancellor, Kaya Henderson, he set out to pass a series of bills that were sure to capture headlines but would do little to improve schools. D.C. schools are on the mend because Mr. Gray and his predecessor, Adrian M. Fenty (D), put competent professionals in place and let them do the job. The well-documented concerns about Mr. Catania’s temperament raise questions about what kind of leader he would be — “bully” is a word that crops up with disturbing frequency — and have been amplified by the often mean-spirited campaign he has run.

Ms. Bowser, by contrast, has grown only stronger as her candidacy has progressed. A lifelong Washingtonian, she is well positioned to bring substance to the “One City” motto that Mr. Gray articulated but had trouble fulfilling. She is committed to better serving longtime residents, especially the poor who have benefited least from Washington’s rise, but also appreciates the urgency of attracting businesses and welcoming new residents. Her travel to other cities has given her insights into what works and what doesn’t and bespeaks a refreshing willingness to admit there are things she doesn’t know.

Those critical or jealous of Ms. Bowser have painted a caricature of a lightweight. That is not the tough politician we have come to know and admire in her seven years on the council. She strikes us as smart, capable and confident without being arrogant. On the council, she has learned the ins and outs of government, from zoning to ethics to tree canopies. As mayor she says she would set priorities, find the right people to pursue them — including a professional city administrator — and give them the support to get it right. She has said that chancellor Henderson and Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier would be among those on her team, if they agree to stay.

We enthusiastically endorse Muriel Bowser. She is the clear, best choice for voters on Nov. 4.

Bowser Wins Ward 8 Straw Poll as Candidates Face Each Other and Rowdy Crowd

Bowser Wins Ward 8 Straw Poll as Candidates Face Each Other and Rowdy Crowd

Posted by Will Sommer on Oct. 16, 2014 at 10:52 pm

Apparently, they can get along. The District’s three top mayoral candidates, whose previous encounters have featured enough pugnacity to earn a resolution from At-Large Councilmember Vincent Orange, decided to take it easy on each other tonight at Anacostia High School for the final major debate of the season. The result: actual discussions of policy.

"What gives?" thought LL. Apparently the crowd agreed, as Muriel Bowser and David Catania supporters teamed up to nearly derail the debate with their heckling.

The forum, sponsored by various Ward 8 civic groups, kicked off with a straw poll. Bowser eventually won the vote limited to residents of the simpaticoward with 169 votes, 70 percent of the total ballots cast. David Catania received 69 votes, while Carol Schwartz won 16.

The usual festive straw-poll atmosphere was in evidence, too. Young girls performed choreographed cheers for Muriel Bowser. Anti-David Catania activists in signs and T-shirts without the mandatory Office of Campaign Finance credit lines accused the candidate of waging a war on the poor, while Ward 8 councilmember Marion Barry made an appearance to cast a ballot for Bowser. (At one point during the debate, all three candidates said they would take Barry’s phone calls personally if elected.)

WUSA9 reporter Bruce Johnson‘s questions focused on Ward 8. Asked to name their greatest contribution to Ward 8, Bowser mentioned free Metrobus rides for students, while Catania chose the United Medical Center hospital bailout. Schwartz named her paid sick leave bill, but not before a man in the audience shouted that Schwartz couldn’t come up with anything she had done for the ward.

It was a sign of things to come. In the most extended heckle of the debate, Bowser begged a woman in the audience by name to settle down, while a who’s who of east-of-the-river activists, plus a security guard, intervened. Johnson looked ready to call it quits, but the debate managed to limp on anyway. (LL’s other top heckles: a Bowser heckler telling a Catania heckler to "shut your mouth, shut your face," and Barry Farm activists effectively mic-checking the debate).

Asked about Vince Gray‘s school boundaries proposal, Bowser worried that the changes would lock east-of-the-river students out of quality schools across the Anacostia River. Schwartz struck a similar, if more strident, tone, vowing that Brown v. Board of Educationwould not be undone under her watch. Catania put his chairmanship of the D.C. Council education committee to good use, launching into a wonky discussion of how the changes would mortally wound one middle school.

Instead of attacking one another, the candidates set their sights on one person: City Administrator Allen Lew, architect of the school overhauls and the D.C. United stadium deal. Considering what position the candidates would turn over in their own administration, both Catania and Schwartz said they’d put someone new in Lew’s position. Bowser didn’t quite tell Lew to update his LinkedIn connections, naming the fire chief as her priority.

The debate’s location made for an interesting consideration of two other mayors—Gray and Adrian Fenty. Gray, although toxic in much of the rest of the city, remains popular in Ward 8 even as his predecessor isn’t. But Bowser, apparently Ward 8’s favored candidate after defeating Gray in the primary, rose to prominence as Fenty’s protege.

Faced with these obstacles, the candidates eagerly twisted themselves into pretzels. Asked whether Gray got a raw deal from Jeff Thompson‘s pre-primary plea deal, Catania (who called for Gray’s resignation two years earlier), declared that U.S. Attorney Ron Machen appeared to tilt the primary against Gray with the plea. Bowser, who understandably appears to see critiques of "Machen Monday" as an attack on the legitimacy of her primary win, was more reticent.

Bowser faced her own Ghost of Mayors Past when Johnson asked her how she was different from Fenty. Bowser described Fenty as a friend who taught her to be "impatient with incompetence." At the same time, though, Bowser said that Fenty’s "dramatic fall" showed her to "never lose touch with the people." A pretty nice way to call the guy a jerk, LL thinks.

Aside from some jabs over Schwartz and Catania’s former GOP affiliations and Catania’s old job with city contractor M.C. Dean, the candidates treated each other surprisingly well.

They even turned down the always brutal opportunity to ask one another questions. Three weeks from now, LL wonders who will be wishing they had taken it.

File photo by Darrow Montgomery

Need help getting your insurer’s approval? There’s apparently a D.C. ombudsman for that

Need help getting your insurer’s approval? There’s apparently a D.C. ombudsman for that

Oct 13, 2014, 3:00pm EDT Updated: Oct 14, 2014, 7:59am EDT

D.C. Health Care ombudsman

D.C. has a health care ombudsman? Don’t feel bad if you didn’t know. The office is launching its first campaign to advertise its services this week.

Tina Reed

Staff Reporter- Washington Business Journal

Did you know D.C. has a “ health care ombudsman"?

If you didn’t, you’re not alone. For five years, the small office within the Department of Health Care Finance charged with helping residents and workers when insurers deny their claims has been operating under the radar.

With the onset of open enrollment for health plans, the Department of Health Care Finance started trying to change that for the first time. This week, the office began advertising its new ”Healthcare On Tap” campaign to any D.C. residents or workers having trouble with Medicaid, Medicare, their employer-based insurance and even the coverage they purchased on the District’s exchange, D.C. Health Link.

The profile-raising campaign includes a TV commercial showing residents contacting the small office with questions about problems with their insurance via decidedly low-tech tin cans attached to strings. It was funded in part through federal grants, including one for about $200,000 made available under the Affordable Care Act.

“People don’t appeal the decisions, the denials that insurance companies give them. They just accept them. They don’t know they can appeal,” said Health Care Ombudsman Maude Holt.

The office has about a dozen full-time people and four interns to help address calls for help from people who live or work in the District, Holt said. They pore over plans to see if individuals actually should receive coverage under their plans and try to persuade insurers to overturn their decisions — or work with the affected residents to change their policy should they learn they aren’t eligible for coverage, Holt said. The Department of Health Care Finance handled some 6,500 cases in fiscal year 2013. They say they were able to resolve 95 percent of those cases successfully, although the definition of success seems to vary widely.

Among one of their side roles, Holt said, is actually talking to businesses directly about the benefits they offer when they notice glaring gaps. An example, she said, many plans don’t cover the cost of wigs as prosthesis to women being treated for breast cancer. The office doesn’t have the authority to make the business change their coverage but can make recommendations regarding benefits that may ultimately help them.

“A healthy population is a more productive population,” Holt said.

Tina Reed covers health care.

David Catania is Gaining On Muriel Bowser in DC’s Mayoral Race

David Catania is Gaining On Muriel Bowser in DC’s Mayoral Race

A new poll shows Bowser only four points ahead of her opponent. By Harry Jaffe, Washingtonian Magazine

Can Bowser hold on to her lead? Photograph by Flickr user crystalndavis.

Published October 6, 2014

DC’s mayoral race is tightening.

A new poll by veteran DC pollster Ron Lester shows Democrat Muriel Bowser four points ahead of Independent David Catania in the November 4 general election. Bowser comes in at 34 percent to Catania’s 30. Carol Schwartz, also running as an independent, came in at 16 percent. Nineteen percent of those polled were undecided.

Lester’s poll is significant for a number of reasons. He’s among the District’s most experienced pollsters—he’s worked for major candidates including Vincent Gray and Marion Barry—and he’s known for precise, accurate polls.

Lester’s poll runs counter to the Washington Post’s September poll that showed Bowser leading by 17 points. The Post’s poll, with NBC4 and Marist, was taken from a random digit dialing sample. Lester polled 500 likely voters in a sample split between 48 percent black voters, 47 percent white, and 5 percent Latino.

Lester’s poll tracks the results of a recent poll by Economic Growth DC, an independent business group, that showed Bowser up by eight points. Lester’s poll, commissioned by Karl Racine, a candidate in the attorney general’s race, shows Racine leading four other candidates by a wide margin.

For the mayoral race, the poll reveals that Bowser’s numbers are stagnating, in part because she’s not participating in the race in a robust way. Meanwhile, Catania’s attacks are taking hold and cutting down her support.

Bowser campaign manager Bill Lightfoot declined to comment before seeing the poll.

“It’s in line with our poll,” Catania aide Ben Young tells Washingtonian. “It shows David surging.”

Not exactly. Catania’s numbers have also held relatively steady, hovering around 30 percent.

“Bowser’s support has eroded, and that must be troubling for her camp,” says Chuck Thies, a political consultant who ran Vince Gray’s unsuccessful campaign to win the Democratic primary. “But Catania is just inching up. Can he eclipse her in the limited time left in the race? Inching up is not a path to victory.”

Lester’s poll revealed a surprising aspect of Carol Schwartz’s support. In her fifth run for mayor, the veteran District politician runs second among African-American voters, which hurts Bowser more than Catania.

In racial terms, Bowser is stronger among black voters, at 42 to 19 percent over Catania. That support holds among African Americans over 60. Bowser is strongest in wards east of the Anacostia River and maintains a slight lead in white neighborhoods in the District’s northwest wards.

Karl Racine—a veteran attorney who’s managed Venable, a major law firm, and worked in the Clinton Administration—easily polls better than the other candidates in the District’s first election for attorney general. With the Post’s endorsement, Racine will be difficult to beat.

Lester declined to comment on the poll.

President Obama endorses Muriel Bowser amid hard-fought D.C. mayor race

D.C. Politics

President Obama endorses Muriel Bowser amid hard-fought D.C. mayor race

By Mike DeBonis, Washington Post, October 6 at 11:00 AM

President Obama announced his endorsement Monday of D.C. mayoral candidate Muriel E. Bowser, lending the support of the nation’s most prominent Democrat to the party’s nominee amid a hard-fought campaign against two independent candidates.

In a statement released through the Bowser campaign, Obama said he was “proud” to support Bowser as “a champion for working and middle-class families, and a passionate proponent of Washington, D.C.”

“As we continue our efforts to move our country’s economy forward, I know I’ll be able to count on Muriel to expand opportunity for all,” Obama said in the statement. “That’s why I’m asking for you to vote for her in the general election this November.”

The possibility of an Obama endorsement has been the subject of much speculation since Bowser won the Democratic primary and embarked on an unusually heated general election race against fellow D.C. Council member David A. Catania (I-At Large) and former council member Carol Schwartz.

As Catania and Schwartz have waged attacks on her record and readiness for office, Bowser has sought to leverage her status as the Democratic nominee in a city where 8 in 10 registered voters identify as Democrats. Her campaign literature and stump speeches have tended to prominently feature her party identification.

A NBC4/Washington Post/Marist poll conducted last month showed Bowser with a 17 point lead over Catania among likely voters, with a 4 point margin of error. A more recent poll, sponsored by a pro-business advocacy group, found an 8 point margin using a different methodology focusing on frequent voters. That result has a 3 point margin of error.

Obama has only rarely dipped his toe personally into District politics, making a 2009 visit to Ben’s Chili Bowl with former mayor Adrian M. Fenty ahead of his inauguration, then later inviting successor Vincent C. Gray for a White House lunch. The president and his Cabinet have frequently used the city as a backdrop for announcements, but their involvement in city government affairs has otherwise been perfunctory.

Bowser and Obama do not have immediate plans for an appearance together, campaign spokesman Joaquin McPeek said.

In a statement, Bowser said she was “extremely honored” to have Obama’s endorsement.

“We share a progressive vision, believing that we only succeed when opportunity is available to everyone. If the residents of the District of Columbia elect me to be their next mayor on November 4th, I will emulate the President by bringing people together to find solutions to our toughest challenges.”

Obama’s full statement:

“I am proud to endorse Democratic Councilmember Muriel Bowser in her mayoral election bid. She is a champion for working and middle-class families, and a passionate proponent of Washington, D.C.

“Muriel knows that every hardworking D.C. resident deserves the opportunity to get ahead. That’s why she has partnered with local small businesses to create jobs and fought to give the children of D.C. a fair shot by investing in our schools. As mayor, I know she’ll continue to bring people together to fight for fair wages, build on the economic progress we’ve made and ensure teachers and students have the resources they need for success from early childhood education through high school.

“As we continue our efforts to move our country’s economy forward, I know I’ll be able to count on Muriel to expand opportunity for all. That’s why I’m asking for you to vote for her in the general election this November.”

Mike DeBonis covers local politics and government for The Washington Post. He also writes a blog and a political analysis column that runs on Fridays.

Muriel Bowser holds line on D.C. mayoral debates; some activists hold their applause

D.C. Politics

Muriel Bowser holds line on D.C. mayoral debates; some activists hold their applause

By Mike DeBonis, Washington Post, October 4

When the Citizens Association of Georgetown invited the three leading D.C. mayoral candidates to a community forum, independent Carol Schwartz politely declined, citing a conflict withRosh Hashanah. Fellow independent David A. Catania accepted.

And the campaign of Muriel E. Bowser, the Democratic nominee, said nothing at all for weeks, said Pamla Moore, the association’s president. A few days prior to the Sept. 24 forum, Moore reiterated the invitation in a phone call with a Bowser aide who, she recalled, told her he would speak to the candidate and respond accordingly. “He never called back,” Moore said.

Bowser participated in dozens of candidate forums during a grueling Democratic primary — 31, by her campaign’s count — but she has committed to only four general-election debates leading up to Nov. 4.

That strategy makes sense for a Democrat holding a significant lead in a deeply Democratic city. But it also rubs against the established folkways of city politics, where campaigns tend to play out in front of crowds that are often small and parochial but deeply invested in civic affairs. And it has made some of those crowds unhappy.

“There were too many [debates] in the last election, but four isn’t fair to citizens across the city,” said Gerri Adams-Simmons, president of the Federation of Civic Associations, which has explored doing a forum with a fellow coalition but gave up in part because Bowser would not commit. “I just think it’s important for people to come out and see and hear for themselves. . . . There’s nothing like an in-person forum. TV and radio just doesn’t compare.”

Looking at where key candidates stand on pressing issues facing Washington.

For decades, winning the Democratic primary has been tantamount to winning the D.C. mayoralty, but this year’s combination of an unusually early primary, unusually well-known non-Democratic candidates and a demographically shifting city have fueled speculation about Bowser’s vulnerability.

Now, the abbreviated debate schedule has fed perceptions of Bowser as overly cautious, insubstantial and aloof — in some cases, reminding activists of the sometimes peevish politician who helped pave her path to power, ex-mayor Adrian M. Fenty.

In Georgetown, Bowser’s absence played out in front of scores of residents assembled in the Dumbarton House who heard only from Catania, who gave a solo presentation that won this rave review from the Georgetowner newspaper: “an experience-rich, smart, even visionary performance by a tough candidate who seemed to have the talents and strengths to run a credible campaign.”

Bowser’s campaign said while Moore may not have been personally contacted, a staffer did send the candidate’s regrets before the forum.

Bowser said in an interview she’s “very comfortable” with her decision to limit her debate appearances to events that will be broadcast either on TV, radio or the Internet, saying she appeared in front of numerous groups during the primary. “I think that what’s important is that we give everybody the opportunity to hear from all of the candidates, and I think that the debates that we have selected will do exactly that,” she said.

But the scene in Georgetown could repeat on at least a half-dozen occasions in the coming weeks, with at least two groups saying they will have an empty chair on stage should Bowser refuse to show up. One event, hosted Sept. 28 by a number of Jewish congregations and community groups, already featured that scene.

Those groups tend to be populated by influential activists, and to many, Bowser’s explanations — which include the difficult scheduling demands of a potential mayor — aren’t satisfying.

Muriel E. Bowser talks to fellow council members before attending a legislative meeting at the John A. Wilson Building in Washington on Sept. 23. (Astrid Riecken/For The Washington Post)

“Muriel Bowser won the Democratic primary. Now she’s in a race for mayor, and that’s what we’re going to be voting for,” said Andy Litsky, a Southwest activist who is helping to organize a forum Monday on behalf of several community groups. “She may believe that she sold her talents to the folks who voted in the Democratic primary, and now she’s got to sell them to the voters of the District of Columbia.” (Litsky has donated small amounts to Catania’s campaign.)

The events Bowser has been skipping tend to be more focused on particular issues or specific communities than the citywide breadth of the four “official” debates. The Southwest event, for instance, will involve detailed questions about the soccer stadium planned for the area, Litsky said.

Bowser has also not committed to a forum focused on education despite attempts from some groups dating back to April. One coalition of community advocacy groups has attempted to schedule a forum and has secured commitments from Catania and Schwartz for an Oct. 22 event. But one organizer, Matthew Frumin, said plans are in flux while the event is being rethought to get Bowser in the fold — perhaps as an online interactive production.

“For education, in particular, it really is critical that people be able to hear very specifically where the candidates stand on what they want to do in shaping the education system for the next years,” he said. “That needs to be in an atmosphere in which it’s not just in campaign literature, but rather in a setting where views can be challenged and people can call for more detail rather than answers which could go any sort of way.”

Offering detail on her positions and opening them to challenge could hold peril for Bowser, who appears to be protecting a lead. An NBC4/Washington Post/Marist poll taken last month showed Bowser with a 17-point lead among likely voters; a more recent poll commissioned by a pro-business group gave her an eight-point lead over Catania.

Bowser has exploited the benefit of her superior fundraising and institutional support in recent weeks, with her campaign sending at least three mailers citywide, while the union representing hotel workers in the city sent pieces attacking Catania as a “bully” for supporting a bill that could have curtailed noisy labor protests.

In the first two debates, held Sept. 18 and Thursday, Bowser held her own by defending against Catania’s attacks on her record while dishing out a few jabs of her own.

“We sent a strong message in the first debate that I’m ready to lead,” she said. “I compare favorably, if not better, to everybody else’s debate skills. I’m not scared of the questions, and we’ve been answering these questions for 18 months. . . . So I feel very clear about the widely broadcast debates that we’re participating in will cover any remaining questions.”

Veteran Democratic activist Phil Pannell, who helped a debate sponsored by Ward 8 community groups that Bowser has agreed to attend, said there should be more effort among activist and community groups to consolidate their forums.

“It’s not unreasonable,” he said of Bowser’s stance. “People are going to have the chance to hear from the candidates. What is unreasonable is that every organization feels it is a must” to hold their own event.

Even well-established groups have found it hard to get Bowser’s attention. An AARP event set for this Thursday was finalized only after the format was arranged so that none would interact with each other. Rather than have all candidates on stage at once, each will have a half-hour block to themselves to answer questions from moderators.

“If you call it a debate, you might jinx me,” said Ivan Lanier, D.C. advocacy director for the retirees’ group, which counts 89,000 members in the city.

Last Wednesday, Bowser did not participate in a candidates’ event co-hosted by several prominent advocacy groups: D.C. Vote, D.C. Appleseed, the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute and the League of Women Voters. Her campaign blamed a previously scheduled event hosted by the Federal City Council, which is led by former mayor Anthony A. Williams, a prominent Bowser supporter.

“There are tons of these all over town, so it does become difficult,” said Linda Beebe, a Woodley Park resident and league board member who attended the event. “But the issue for the people here, this was about voting rights and equality for the city. That carries a different context.”

Beebe called herself a “lifelong Democrat who’s not wildly enthusiastic” about her party’s nominee.

The frustrations aren’t only rooted in debate appearances. Before the D.C. Vote event, Bowser’s campaign had failed to respond on time to a questionnaire asking about her positions on voting rights issues. Another well-respected advocacy group, the District chapter of the Sierra Club, endorsed Catania Wednesday after Bowser’s campaign didn’t complete a candidate survey for the primary or general elections.

“I find it disappointing,” said Bob Summersgill, a Democrat who managed the endorsement process for the chapter. “She certainly would have been given consideration had she submitted a questionnaire.”

Both Catania and Schwartz have repeatedly criticized Bowser for not engaging more widely during the campaign. And Schwartz, in an interview, suggested that insular strategy may not end with the election: “If Muriel is dissing the voters now, it certainly doesn’t portend well for all of us if she is elected,” she said.

Douglass Sloan, a political consultant and advisory neighborhood commissioner, also said the peril of Bowser’s strategy doesn’t end on Election Day.

“Right now, she’s ruining the honeymoon that is supposed to happen right after you’re elected,” said Sloan, who has been involved in abortive efforts to host a debate in Bowser’s ward. “You want to try to make as many friends as possible because you need that public support. You want people who are going to defend you at that grass-roots level, at the dog parks, at the coffee shops, at the PTA meetings.

“Even Adrian Fenty had a honeymoon,” he said.

Mike DeBonis covers local politics and government for The Washington Post. He also writes a blog and a political analysis column that runs on Fridays.

New D.C. mayoral poll: Muriel Bowser leads David Catania by 8 points

New D.C. mayoral poll: Muriel Bowser leads David Catania by 8 points

By Mike DeBonis, Washington Post, October 1 at 3:10 PM

A new poll commissioned by a D.C.-based, pro-business advocacy group finds a tighter D.C. mayoral race than seen in previously published polling, with Democrat Muriel E. Bowser leading independent David A. Catania by eight percentage points among likely voters.

An NBC4/Washington Post/Marist poll conducted last month found a 17-point spread between those two candidates, with independent Carol Schwartz further behind. The poll done this week for Economic Growth D.C. found Catania with a similar level of support among likely voters — 27 percent versus 26 percent in the Post poll — but found lower levels of support for Bowser. The new poll puts Bowser’s support at 35 percent versus 43 percent in the Post poll; Schwartz is at 11 percent versus 16 percent previously.

“What this says to me is the race is closer than a lot of people think it is,” said Dave Oberting, Economic Growth D.C.’s executive director. “It makes the next five weeks pretty interesting.”

The live-caller Economic Growth D.C. CapitalDecision2014 poll reached 1,023 frequent D.C. voters, plus a random sample of new registrants, between Sept. 28 and Sept. 30. The results carry a margin of error of three percentage points. The survey did reach cellphone users, though a smaller proportion than that of cellphone-only households overall in the District, which could lead to undersampling of some groups.

Oberting said his group paid for the poll in its entirety and is not supporting any particular mayoral candidate: “We have not donated,” he said. “We have not intervened in any way, and we do not have plans to at this moment.”

The new poll differs from the NBC4/Washington Post/Marist poll in selecting respondents from a voter list rather than by dialing random numbers. The composition of the two polls’ samples is markedly different in some ways, including by race: In the Post poll, African Americans narrowly outnumbered whites, 48 to 43 percent. In the new survey, 53 percent of likely voters are white, while 42 percent are black and 5 percent Hispanic or Latino.

The smaller share of African Americans may have hurt Bowser in that poll, given she led by 55 to 11 percent among blacks in the Post survey, and Catania led by 41 to 30 percent among whites.

In other notable findings, the Economic Growth D.C. CapitalDecision2014 poll tested a hypothetical head-to-head matchup between Bowser and Catania, and found that Bowser’s lead would widen slightly — Bowser 43 percent, Catania 33 percent — were Schwartz not in the race, further evidence that Schwartz isn’t playing spoiler for either candidate.

Asked their impressions of each candidate, Bowser and Catania fared similarly — both has name recognition over 80 percent with favorable impressions outstripping unfavorable impressions by a roughly two-to-one margin.

Scott Clement contributed to this post.

Mike DeBonis covers local politics and government for The Washington Post. He also writes a blog and a political analysis column that runs on Fridays.


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