The Stein Stamp

Democratic club finalizes season's endorsements

With the close of its June 18 meeting, the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, one of the District’s most influential political clubs, finalized its current slate of endorsements ahead of the District’s Sept. 9 primary. The June 18 meeting was the second of two endorsement meetings, with the first held May 13.

At the May meeting, 54 of 62 Stein Club members voted to endorse incumbent Jack Evans to retain his Ward 2 City Council seat.

At that meeting, club members failed to endorse a shadow senator, though Paul Strauss received 52 percent of the initial vote, while longtime gay activist Philip Pannell received 33 percent. The remainder went to two other candidates. In a runoff vote, Pannell’s percentage rose to 54 percent, with Strauss’ support dropping to 44 percent. A candidate must receive 60 percent of the vote to secure a Stein Club endorsement.

The May meeting also saw endorsements of incumbent City Councilmember Yvette Alexander (Ward 7); Eleanor Holmes-Norton to continue as delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives; and Mike Panetta as shadow representative, all by acclamation.

”At the May meeting, the Ward 2 race got a lot of attention from members,” says Stein Club President Mario Acosta-Vélez. ”Many of our members are strong supporters of Jack Evans for his record of support for the LGBT community.”

Club members at the June 18 meeting endorsed incumbent City Council Members Muriel Bowser (Ward 4) with 82.5 percent of the votes; Marion Barry (Ward 8) with 64 percent; and Kwame Brown (At large) with 90 percent.

”In this past endorsement meeting, last week, we got a lot of candidates from Ward 8,” says Acosta-Vélez. ”For many of them, this was the first time they attended [a Gertrude Stein Democratic Club] meeting. It was significant.”

Also significant was the Stein Club’s June 18 unanimous resolution in support of Sen. Barack Obama’s (D-Ill.) presidential campaign.

Moving into summer, Acosta-Vélez says he’s excited about upcoming ”house parties,” which will see Stein Club members being invited to meet casually with their respective City Council representatives.

”This is new,” says Acosta-Vélez. ”It’s something we’ve started to engage our members in a more grassroots way with their Council members. It’s bringing the club to the neighborhoods where our members are. We had a Ward 6 meeting last month with [Councilmember] Tommy Wells (D). We had a great conversation for about an hour, with about 35 people. We’re hoping Jack Evans will attract more members. We have a lot of members in Ward 2.”

The house party with Evans is scheduled for June 30, with a meeting with Brown to follow in July.

Also in July will be an Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) training offered in conjunction with the Gay & Lesbian Leadership Institute. Acosta-Vélez says the training, which should run about two hours the evening of Wednesday, July 16, will help not only those thinking of running for an ANC spot, but anyone who is interested in working on a political campaign.

For more information about the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, visit them at www.steindemocrats.org. For information about the July 16 training, visit www.victoryinstitute.org, or e-mail Shawn Werner at shawn.werner@victoryfund.org.

Follow Will O'Bryan on Twitter @wobryan.