Incumbent Washington DC mayor ousted, but American Arab candidate fails in bid

Incumbent Washington DC mayor ousted, but American Arab candidate fails in bid
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Incumbent Washington DC mayor ousted, but American Arab candidate fails in bid

By Ray Hanania

Busboys and Poets Coffee Shop owner Andy Anas Shallal

Busboys and Poets Coffee Shop owner Andy Anas Shallal

The hurdle for American Arabs to overcome to win public office in America is high, but many continue to strive to shatter the glass ceiling and engage in American government at all levels as is their right as citizens.

This past week, Andy Anas Shallal, ended a hard fought and admirable candidacy to become the Democratic Party nominee for mayor of Washington D.C., despite overwhelming odds and challenges. Shallal came in 4th place in the contest which drew 8 candidates.

But the election is drawing national attention because the incumbent, who has held the office of mayor since 2010, Vincent Gray, 71, was ousted and replaced by Washington D.C. City Council member Muriel Bowser, 41. Gray’s administration was smothered by numerous high profile federal investigations of alleged corruption involving his election four years earlier.

Bowser won the Washington D.C. Democratic Primary election on Tuesday with 44 percent of the vote, less than a majority, while Gray received only 32 percent, a slap in the face to his first term as mayor of the crime-plagued and economy-weak city and national capitol.

Gray was plagued by high profile news stories about several of his top aides who have been accused of corruption and siphoning more than $600,000 in misused public funds. Five people have pled guilty to felonies involved int he controversy. Some of the money, it is being alleged, was used to help get out the vote in Gray’s support in the 2010 election when Gray defeatedMayor Adiran Fenty, a close ally of Bowser. The scandal clearly undermined Gray’s credibility. In mid-March, federal prosecutors alleged Gray knew of a broad conspiracy by donor Jeffrey Thompson to use illicit funds to help elect him as mayor.

Bowser will face David Catania, 46, the former Republican candidate who was the only person to announce he will run as an “independent” in the November 4, 2014 General Election. A critical campaign issue for Catania is Gay Rights. He is an openly Gay candidate who currently serves as a council member-at-large.

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In American elections, each major recognized party, usually Democrats and Republicans but also Independents, hold elections called “primaries” to determine who will be their candidate for specific office. The winner of the primary contests representing their party then face-off in the general elections. The Democratic, Republican, DC Statehood Green, and Libertarian parties have qualified to hold primaries to select their party’s nominee in the general election, although not all parties slated candidates to run for all of the available offices.

The battle for mayor of Washington D.C., which has only been electing mayors since 1974, was only one of many contested offices on the ballot for residents there.

Here are the uncertified, unofficial vote totals from the Washington D.C. Board of Elections:

MAYOR OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA (143 of 143 precincts reporting)
Muriel E. Bowser                35,899                 44.24%
Vincent C. Gray                   26,209                 32.30%
Tommy Wells                       10,181                   12.55%
Jack Evans                                4,039                   4.98%
Andy Anas Shallal                  2,657                    3.27%
Vincent Orange                       1,537                     1.89%
Reta Lewis                                    346                    0.43%
Carlos Allen                                    88                    0.11%
write-in candidates                   189                     0.23%

There are 369,037 registered voters in Washington D.C.. Only 81,185 people voted in the Democratic Primary. Just under 2,000 people voted in the Republican Primary. A total of 83,040 registered voters actually voted, or only 22.50% of the registered voters, according to the Washington D.C. Board of Elections.

Shallal, the owner of the popular Busboys and Poets, at coffee shop, bar and book store at 2021 14th Street NW in Washington D.C., said on his Facebook Page that he is proud of his campaign and the effort he put into the election despite only coming in 4th place.

He thanked his supporters on his Facebook Page and wrote:

“During the DC Mayoral Primary:
– I visited every Ward in the city (all 8 of them) multiple times.
– I was able to visit all wards in one day multiple times!
– I ready policy papers every night and stopped reading novels for 5 months!
– I learned a lot about the budget and how the city works on a granular level
– I shook the hands of at least 10,000 people
– I did about 44 debates
– I attended 63 House parties and fundraisers
– I attended 20 houses of worship
– I visited 10 senior centers
– I visited 3 homeless shelters
– I visited 2 hospitals
– I met with numerous unions
– I received amazing endorsements for great people
– I met people standing in unemployment lines at 6AM in 0 degree weather
– I met people at barbeques and outdoor gatherings
– I visited 4 public housing projects
– I met ANC Commissioners in all Wards
– I had my faith restored in mankind (and womankind)
– I learned a lot about human nature (its great for the most part!)
– I drove – rode busses – got on metros
– I visited 8 barbershops and beauty salons
– I did television appearances and radio talk shows
– I did interviews with journalists and writers
– I used a bullhorn to give a speech
– I gave a speech on a moving Metro Bus
– I gave speeches at bus stops to random people standing in line
– I learned that collecting 2000 signatures is not as easy as it seems
– I did interviews for documentarians
– I spoke to high school students at DCPS
– I spoke with teachers and principals
– I met with pollsters and political strategists
– I spend about $250,000
– I made phone calls asking for money (least favorite thing to do!)
– I got to meet some amazing people
– I met returning citizens and cried with them
– I got to like and admire politicians (most of them)
– I got to like Tommy Wells and appreciate his sense of humor
– I was invited into Carlos Allen’s bus
– I learned that Reta Jo Lewis was born in Georgia
– I learned that Jack Evans spent too much money on signs
– I learned that Mayor Gray gets angry a lot and screams into the microphone
– I learned that Vincent Orange is a nice person
– I learned that Muriel Bowser is well rehearsed and polished
– I learned that polls don’t tell you the full story
– I learned that I like politics and campaigning!!”

The campaign effort is impressive.

Shallal announced his candidacy on November 12, 2013 at Ben’s Chili Bowl on U Street, Northwest. He was introduced by boxing promoter, Rock Newman, who served as his campaign manager. Shallal had the backing of Hollywood actor Danny Glover.

Here is the video of Shallal announcing his candidacy for Washington D.C. mayor on Nov. 12, 2013.

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rayhanania

rayhanania

Managing Writer at The Arab Daily News
RAY HANANIA — Columnist

Ray Hanania is an award winning political columnist and author. He covered Chicago Politics and Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992. Hanania began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He later published “The National Arab American Times” newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East food stores in 48 American States (2004-2007).

Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com, and for TheArabDailyNews.com, and TheDailyHookah.com.

Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. Hanania has also received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.

His wife and son are Jewish and he performs standup comedy lampooning Arab-Jewish relations, advocating for peace based on non-violence, mutual recognition and Two-States.

His Facebook Page is Facebook.com/rghanania

Email him at: RGHanania@gmail.com

Visit this link to read Ray's column archive at the ArabNews,com www.arabnews.com/taxonomy/term/10906
rayhanania
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