The Jews United for Justice Campaign Fund is proud to make the following endorsements for the DC primary. We endorsed candidates using the following criteria:
- Closely aligned with our agenda for economic and social justice
- High ethical standards
- A real chance of winning.
Ward 1: Brianne Nadeau
Nadeau has proven herself as an able crusader for economic and social justice in her time as a local activist and ANC commissioner, through her work for US Congressman John Sarbanes and as a communications strategist. She is a dynamic, progressive and hardworking leader, who will be a champion for the crucial issues in Ward 1 and our city. We were especially impressed with her answers on our candidate questionnaire, which were more progressive than incumbent Councilmember Jim Graham’s.
This was a difficult decision because Councilmember Graham has been a reliable progressive vote in his four terms on the Council. Councilman Graham’s bona fides as a warrior for social justice cannot be called into question. However, despite his truly impressive voting record, there are concerns about his ethics and leadership style that undermine his ability to lead.
Ward 3: Mary Cheh (running unopposed)
Councilmember Cheh is leading efforts to raise the tipped minimum wage, and was an early supporter of the $11.50 minimum wage and paid sick days. While we have not always agreed with her on every issue, she is a thoughtful legislator and is always willing to hear our side of the argument.
Ward 5: Kenyan McDuffie
Though Councilmember McDuffie is still relatively new, he has quickly become a progressive leader on the council. In addition to his leadership on ethics reform, he is the champion of an impressive campaign finance reform package and several affordable housing bills that we believe will greatly benefit low- and middle-income families. He is an exciting and dynamic new councilmember, and we are proud to support him.
Ward 6: Charles Allen
Allen is a long-time, dependable ally on core economic and social justice issues. As a Council staffer he was central in helping to shepherd our paid sick days legislative agenda. He also played a key role in a recent effort to ban corporate contributions to Councilmembers, and is the only Council candidate that has refused to accept corporate contributions.
While Darrell Thompson has an impressive record and strong progressive credentials from his career as a senior staffer in the US Senate, including a major role in passing Obamacare and a close working relationship with our allies in organized labor, he does not have Charles Allen’s deep understanding of local issues and the inner workings of the DC Council.
At-Large: Nate Bennett-Fleming
A DC native, and currently our Shadow Representative, Bennett-Fleming combines an inspiring personal story with innovative ideas and a commitment to fighting inequality. A Ward 8 resident, Nate is an ascendant young leader who will work with the emerging progressive majority on the DC Council to make DC a better place for all of us.
It is notable that we did not endorse Councilmember Anita Bonds, the incumbent who was elected in last year’s special election. We have been disappointed at Bonds’ lack of leadership, light legislative record and failure to take firm stances on the issues that we most care about. John Settles, though largely aligned on our issues, does not seem to be running a winnable campaign.
Council Chair: Phil Mendelson
In his 15 years on the council, Phil Mendelson has consistently stood with us on the issues that matter most. Since he took over as Chairman in 2012 he has championed paid sick days and minimum wage efforts, in addition to several other social justice issues. We look forward to working with Chairman Mendelson for many years to come.
Democratic State Committee: The Rent is Too Darn High Slate
Chartered by the Democratic National Committee as the elected representatives of Democratic voters in DC, the
Democratic State Committee advises the Democratic Party at the block, precinct, state, and national level.
The JUFJ Campaign Fund cares who these people are because we want progressive Democrats running the party, not conservatives. We endorse the entire Rent is Too Darn High slate, the largest and most diverse group of candidates on the primary ballot. They are committed to fighting for an open, honest and engaged Democratic party and pushing toward a higher standard of accountability and ethics for our elected officials.
For DC Mayor, JUFJ Campaign Fund chooses not to make an endorsement.
All of the candidates in this race fell short in one or more of our core criteria.
- Mayor Vincent Gray has a mixed record on our core issues of social and economic justice. The cloud of ethics allegations and threat of an indictment make him a flawed candidate and a less effective leader. Most recently, we have been deeply disturbed by his attempts to weaken minimum wage legislation, and his failure to provide a compassionate or comprehensive solution to the city’s homelessness crisis.
- Muriel Bowser, the leading challenger in the polls, has a mixed record on progressive issues. Though she has expressed support for several of our core issues, we question her leadership style. She regularly chooses to study issues or withhold her support until it is clear a majority of her colleagues are ready to act. Though she is running a serious and smart campaign, we have concerns about her progressive voting record and ability to lead.
- Jack Evans is a smart and effective councilmember, but his record suggests he will not prioritize addressing income inequality. Though he has led on some issues, such as the creation of the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, he has also consistently prioritized lower taxes for wealthy residents over funding for critical and life-saving safety net programs.
- Vincent Orange has championed workers’ rights in the past year, with a leadership role in efforts to raise the minimum wage, expand paid sick days, adjust DC’s living wage for inflation, and fight wage theft. We applaud his leadership and hope to see it continue. However, he has some questionable ethical clouds hanging over him, and we do not believe that his campaign is winnable.
- Tommy Wells has similarly been a champion of progressive issues in his time on the council, especially ethics, paid sick days, and campaign finance reform. He is one of the most progressive candidates in the race, however,polls indicate that he is not running a winnable campaign. We also have some concerns about his leadership ability and effectiveness on the council.
- Andy Shallal’s agenda aligned most closely with the Campaign Fund of any candidate for Mayor. However, we do not believe that he has enough support to win, and we question his experience in leadership positions in the city.
The Jews United for Justice Campaign Fund mobilizes the Jewish community of Greater Washington to advance campaigns for social justice and support progressive candidates for office. This spring’s DC Primary Elections represent our first foray into electoral politics, and we undertook an extensive process that allowed our leaders and activists to carefully examine what each of the candidates for mayor and council stand for and assess how effective they might be in promoting our social justice agenda if elected.
To decide our endorsements we convened a committee of 10 leaders from our membership and board. We sent a detailed questionnaire to the significant Democratic candidates for mayor and council seats. The committee conducted more than a dozen lengthy candidate interviews, as well as consulting with a variety of partners and allies in the progressive advocacy community. We make these recommendations in the hope that our members will be able to make a difference at the ballot box and an even bigger impact on the policy agenda when the new DC Council convenes next year.
Paid for by Jews United for Justice Campaign Fund, 1633 Connecticut Ave, NW Washington, DC 20009. Lilah Pomerance, Treasurer.
A copy of our report is filed with the Director of Campaign Finance of the District of Columbia Board of Elections.