Washington, DC mayor faces formidable primary challenge

WASHINGTON (AP) — Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser faced a formidable battle for a third term, challenged in Tuesday’s Democratic primary by two council members in a race dominated by issues of crime and public safety.

During Bowser’s second term, she clashed with former President Donald Trump and sparked a public tussle between her own police department and a vocal coalition of activists led by Black Lives Matter.

His challengers include at-large Councilmember Robert White, who strongly criticized Bowser’s response to soaring violent crime rates, and Councilmember Traian White, who lives in Ward 8, the district’s poorest and most crime-ridden area. represent.

The winner of the Democratic primary is the prohibitive favorite in November’s general election in the heavily Democratic city.

Crime and public safety have dominated Mayer’s campaign. Murders have risen for four years in a row, and the number of homicides at 227 was the highest since 2003. In January, a D.C. council candidate, Nate Fleming, was killed at gunpoint.

On Sunday night, shots were fired at a street concert 2 miles from the White House, killing a 15-year-old boy and wounding three others, including a police officer.

The Washington, D.C., campaign largely reflects the broad dynamic at play in long-blue stronghold cities, pitting progressives against Democratic conservatives on crime.

Bowser, 49, drew on his experience and leadership and his history as one of the faces of the ongoing quest for the state of Washington. She also got good marks for her handling of the pandemic, usually working in coordination with the DC Council.

In the summer of 2020, Bowser publicly feuded with Trump after mass protests over the killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis after racial justice protesters were forcibly removed from an area near the White House . Bowser renamed the center of the protest Black Lives Matter Plaza and painted a mural with “Black Lives Matter” painted on a section of 16th Street, one block from the White House, in giant yellow letters with “Black Lives Matter”. turned on.

Bowser largely stood by her police department, under pressure from activists called to defame the police, waging a public battle with the DC Council over police budgets. He quietly replaced an old white police chief with a younger black successor and pushed for funding to build up to 4,000 officers over the next decade, currently staffing the Metropolitan Police Department at 3,500.

In April, the DC Council’s Judiciary Committee cut $6 million from Bowser’s $30 million budget proposal to hire more officers, with Bowser claiming that targeting incentives was key to attracting good candidates. The committee, on which none of his challengers act, approved a $20,000 hiring bonus to help recruit more police officers, something Bowser announced days before the primary.

“I’ve never been to a community where they said they didn’t want the police. Never,” Bowser said in a radio debate last month. “We got the police we needed.”

Robert White, 40, has a history of successful rebel campaigns that ousted an embattled incumbent in 2016 for a major council seat. He proposed tackling crime through a program of large-scale public and private youth jobs, which Bowser described as untenable.

Traian White, 38, openly invokes the spirit of Marion Barry, the late mayor and council member who remains a controversial but beloved figure among many Washingtonians. A former grassroots community worker, White was a shelter in Barrie. He has opposed Bowser’s bids to hire more police officers and supported community violence intervention programs, something Bowser says was slow to embrace.

In 2018, Trayon White was accused of anti-Semitism after saying a prominent Jewish family was controlling the weather in Washington.

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