Oct 13, 2021 - Politics
Council member Robert White runs for D.C. mayor
Robert White exits the Office of Campaign Finance after filing to run for mayor, wearing a "vote" face mask.
Photo: Cuneyt Dil/Axios

At-large Council member Robert White joined the D.C. mayor's race Wednesday, emphasizing the need to stem violent crime and fight poverty.

Why it matters: White's entry sets up a likely contest against Mayor Muriel Bowser to lead the nation's capital amid a spike in homicides and the pandemic's continued disruption to health and the economy.

"We're going to make sure that in one of the wealthiest, most diverse cities in the world, we stop seeing poor people fall further and further behind, while those who are wealthy get ahead," White told reporters after filing papers at the Office of Campaign Finance.

  • Bowser is expected to seek a third term, although she hasn't publicly announced her plans yet. An adviser to the mayor told Axios last week that she is in no rush, given her name recognition and ability to fundraise quickly to ramp up a campaign.
  • White would be the mayor's strongest rival in the 2022 Democratic primary, after she coasted to re-election in 2018 without big-name challengers.

White has served on the council since 2016, winning his seat with the support of progressive organizers and his former boss, Attorney General Karl Racine.

  • Racine declined to run for mayor or re-election, and is now closely being watched to see if he will endorse White for mayor.
  • White and his family will be joined by Racine for a launch event Zoom call on Thursday night, his campaign said.

A fifth-generation Washingtonian, White first entered politics rallying against the city's skyrocketing cost of living, which he said priced out some of his relatives.

  • He has often sided with a more left-leaning bloc on the council, some of whom are also allies of the attorney general and don't shy from criticizing the Bowser administration.

Yes, but: Many candidates for mayor have run a similar message of bridging the divide between the poor and wealthy.

  • "I have a reputation for being focused on people," White told reporters in response. "What people need to see is that the promise that folks make become real."
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