Metro Weekly

Gertrude Stein Democratic Club cancels endorsement meetings due to COVID-19 concerns

Club is considering opening up online voting to endorse candidates ahead of upcoming elections

Kent Boese – Photo: Facebook.

The Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, the District of Columbia’s top LGBTQ political organization, has announced it will cancel two planned candidate endorsement forums due to concerns over public health stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The endorsement forums, which had originally been scheduled for April 28 and May 11, occur every two years. Democratic primary candidates for political office who are seeking the club’s endorsement are encouraged to attend, share their views on various issues impacting either the District overall or LGBTQ voters specifically, and have supporters who are members of the club speak on their behalf.

All registered Stein Club members may vote, and if a candidate receives 60% of all votes, they earn the endorsement for the primary. Sometimes, the club also chooses to endorse third-party candidates for one of two At-Large seats on the D.C. Council that are designated for non-Democrats.

Addressing community concerns over public gatherings in light of recommendations by medical experts to practice “social distancing,” Stein Club President Kent Boese sent an email to members announcing the cancellation of the forums.

“We take the health and safety of our members very seriously. In light of Mayor Bowser’s declared state of emergency in the District of Columbia which urges residents to avoid mass gatherings, we also encourage people to stay informed by visiting https://coronavirus.dc.gov for official information,” Boese wrote.

He noted that the club is considering online voting options in lieu of an endorsement forum. More information will be provided as the club figures out its options, but voting is expected to be held sometime around May 6. That means to participate, potential voters must register as club members by April 6.

This year’s Democratic primary was shaping up to potentially be an exciting affair, particularly since the Working Families Party, a progressive political party that often gets involved in Democratic primaries, has endorsed non-incumbents for the Ward 2, 4, and 7 races. The June 2 primary also features competitive races for one of two At-Large seats and the Ward 8 seat on the D.C. Council.

Due to the recent resignation of Councilmember Jack Evans, Ward 2 voters will also face a special election on June 16 to fill out the remainder of Evans’s term. (Evans has since announced he will run again, in both the general and special elections, for his old seat.)

“I appreciate your patience and support as we work to continue our work in a safe and responsible manner during this time,” Boese wrote in his email. “Please stay safe.”

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John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com

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