D.C.’s special election to fill the at-large seat on the city council is April 26, and at last check, a whopping 15 candidates have thrown their hats into the ring. The List checked in with half of those running to talk strategy. Historically, turnout for springtime special elections has topped out around 25,000; in a 15-person race, that means a candidate could pull out a win by virtue of having a few thousand Facebook friends. The List asked the field how they're preparing for what will likely be a tight race.
Pay a lot of lip service to democracy
“This is democracy at its best,” declares Jacque Patterson, Ward 8 activist. Former Fenty aide Josh Lopez says he’s not upset by the large pool because “it’s a democracy, you know, everyone has a shot.” Attorney and political new-comer Arkan Haile: “The more the merrier. It’s what democracy is all about.” Echoes Alan Page, “I’m happy that the democratic process is working and that people are participating.”
Try not to run into other candidates while campaigning
“I’ve been out and about and around,” says Page. “I’ve run into three of my fellow candidates.” He ended up asking opponent Vince Orange for his signature on a petition because he didn’t recognize him. “He did sign my petition.”
Utilize social media
“I will be launching my Facebook page,” says Stanley Mayes, former ANC commissioner. “I haven’t yet decided on the Twitter account, but I might do that. I’ve had people urge me to do so.”
Tout what makes you unique
Haile points to his experience moving to the U.S. at age 10 from Ethiopia without knowing a word of English. Page says he’s the only Green Party candidate. Tom Brown, a non-profit director, has nine kids and says he understands schools. Lopez says he’s 30.
Make sure all your friends and family know you’re running
In an election where a small number of votes could tip the scales to victory, even friends and family must be courted. “It may come down to e-mailing every person you know,” says Patterson. “Twittering every person you know. … Really, you’re touching every one of your friends in your address book.” Lopez agrees. “Going through your phone book, going through your e-mails,” he says, will be crucial.
Every candidate The List spoke to expressed confidence that he could win the race. "That's the nature of special elections," says commercial real estate broker Wayne Dickson. "It could be anybody's contest."