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Great Moments in Local Politics

By Matthew Yglesias

"Great Moments in Local Politics"

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We had some local primaries yesterday in DC and things don’t seem to have gone so well:

Initial reports of voter tallies have been called into question as the Board of Elections and Ethics finds itself embroiled in chaos. The numbers in the GOP primary between Carol Schwartz and Patrick Mara are not matching up, with more votes—including 1,560 write-ins—showing up than the number of registered Republicans believed to have voted in the election.

The GOP primary matters, incidentally, because of a ridiculous provision in the Home Rule Act that reserves some of the at-largeseats on the City Council for non-Democrats in a city where Democrats are the overwhelming preponderance of voters. This time around, the GOP primary winner is going to face a challenge from a couple of people whose basic strategy is to be Democrats running as independents while trying to make it known to as many people as possible that they’re actually Democrats. The trouble is that you can’t have a primary to become the official Dem-pretending-not-to-be-a-Dem candidate so you get a divided vote. Meanwhile, the Schwartz v. Mara matchup is interesting in its own right — Schwartz is probably the Council’s leading advocate of subarbanist development and transportation priorities while Mara owns no car and lives in the central city a bit north of me. On most issues, though, Mara is running to Schwartz’s right. It goes to show, as Dana Goldstein pointed out, that there’s an intellectually viable argument for conservative urbanism but the combination of interest-group politics and culture war anti-city sentiment tends to obscure it.

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