WASHINGTON – Councilwoman Muriel Bowser was elected mayor of D.C. Tuesday,with 54 percent of the vote,solidifying the longstanding rule that a Democratic primary win equals a win in the general election.
Bowser had almost a 19-point lead over Councilman David Catania,I,with all 143 precincts counted. Former Councilwoman Carol Schwartz,I,drew just over 7 percent of the vote.
“Thank you,Washington,D.C.” Bowser said. “Let’s get to work.”
Bowser’s supporters,many of whom gathered at a watch party at the historic Howard Theatre,screamed wildly as final results were announced. Bowser continues the District’s trend of electing African American Democrats for mayor. Catania,a white former Republican,got just over 35 percent of the votes.
Hundreds of Bowser supporters cheered and sang along to the pop songs pumping through theater speakers. Many wore green shirts in support of Bowser’s campaign.
Bowser took the stage after Catania conceded and gave a speech filled with thanks and promises.
“I think Washington,D.C.,has spoken,” she said. “The outcome of this election is affirming that the status quo isn’t good enough.”
After conceding defeat,Catania asked his supporters to lend their support to Bowser as she takes office.
Bowser,in turn,acknowledged her opponents: “I want to acknowledge the efforts of David Catania and Carol Schwartz.”
Bowser defeated Mayor Vincent Gray in the primary in April,with 44.3 percent of the vote to Gray’s 32.4 percent. Gray’s single term was marked with a scandal from his campaign four years ago.
Bowser raised vastly more money than her opponents and received endorsements from President Barack Obama,The Washington Post and multiple D.C. councilmembers.
“I knew this would not be easy,” Catania said. “The price of not doing it was simply too high.”
The results came as changing District demographics led to speculation that Catania would be able to overcome the tradition of the District electing only black Democrats since Congress granted D.C. the right to elect a mayor and council in 1974.
Had Catania won,he would have been D.C.’s first openly gay mayor.
“It would have been nice to see David win,” Marya Pickering,a D.C. resident who works with government contracting company Vertical Jobs. “He’s done a great job on council.”
Beth Mehrabi,a 48-year-old D.C. resident who works as a budget analyst,called Bowser’s victory “wonderful.”
Marjorie McFarlane Lucas,40,befriended Bowser when they were both students at Chatham University in Pittsburgh. She said she’s kept in touch with the mayor-elect since she graduated in 1994.
“Looking back at who she was in school,it’s an easy transition,” she said.
Lucas,who is vice president of a New York legal firm,called the watch party electric and said she’s confident in Bowser’s abilities.
“I think she’ll do an amazing job,” she said. “This is her passion.”
Reach reporter Lucas Daprile or 202-408-1490. Reach reporter Ayana Stewart at [email protected] or 202-408-1493SHFWire stories are free to any news organization that gives the reporter a byline and credits the SHFWire. Like the Scripps Howard Foundation Wire interns on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.