Time for D.C. Republicans to pack it in

Please forgive us for stating the obvious, but it’s time for the District of Columbia Republican Party to pack it in. Desist. Give up. Go home. Don’t waste a single additional dollar or minute attempting to be part of the political process. The party should literally close its office, cancel its bank account, deactivate its web page, and resign its place on the Republican National Committee; activists should focus their resources elsewhere. We say this as a former member of the D.C. Republican Committee, ward officer, campaign worker, and unsuccessful candidate for minor local office. We took our own advice years ago but remained a semi-believer until now.

Patrick Mara had all of the ingredients for the best Republican chance to win a city council seat: a special election with low turnout (it ended up being around 10%); a divided field (four Democrats and six candidates overall) and no elected incumbent opponent (the victorious Anita Bonds was appointed to the vacant seat about five months ago); and appeal as a candidate by D.C. standards (he trumpeted his left-wing social views and received the endorsements of the Washington Post, Sierra Club, police union, and prominent mainstream media and interest groups) with good name recognition (he was previously elected to the [non-partisan] school board and had run twice before for the council). With all of this effort, he lost comfortably, obtaining a projected 23% of the vote to finish third.

It is depressing. In the best opportunity in years for a Republican to get elected, a good candidate mustered about 2.3% of the electorate. As usual, the race was about political party, bacon for the local neighborhood, and race. District of Columbia law requires that at least two of the 13 council members be from a minority party, yet the Republicans still haven’t won an election since 2004, after which David Catania left the party to become an independent and Carol Schwartz (who played the Washington Generals to the Democrats’ Harlem Globetrotters in several mayoral elections) lost her council re-election bid.

Republicans should say to District residents, fine, you have repeatedly and unequivocally stated your preference for the venal, petty, corrupt, inept one-party governance that has made the District a national laughingstock (see summaries here and here). You own it.

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