Apr 22, 2022 - Politics

D.C. mayor candidate Trayon White survives challenge to eligibility

From left: Council member Robert White Jr., Mayor Muriel Bowser and Council member Trayon White Sr.
From left: Council member Robert White Jr., Mayor Muriel Bowser, and Council member Trayon White Sr. Photos: Michael Robinson Chávez, Jahi Chikwendiu, Bonnie Jo Mount/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Council member Trayon White narrowly survived what would have been a death knell to his mayoral candidacy, after the D.C. Board of Elections rejected a rival candidate's claim that he did not turn in enough valid signatures to qualify for the ballot.

Why it matters: The race remains a contest between three top candidates: Mayor Bowser and council members Trayon White and Robert White (no relation).

  • It's a blow to Robert White, who had lodged the challenge against his opponent's signatures and wanted to have a head-to-head race against Bowser. The Democratic primary is on June 21.

Driving the news: The three-member elections board decided on Friday that Trayon White turned in 138 signatures above the 2,000 minimum required to qualify for the ballot. That's after officials had thrown out more than half of his signatures.

  • Hundreds of the signatures were invalid because the signer wasn't registered to vote at the address listed on the petition at the time they signed, among other irregularities.
  • At the board hearing, Robert White's wife and attorney, Christy White, claimed some signatures even appeared photoshopped. Trayon White said the allegations amounted to a "witch hunt."
  • Aristotle Theresa, an attorney for Trayon White, noted that some address issues were likely tied to residents in poorer Ward 8 dealing with more housing instability than in other parts of the city.

Between the lines: Trayon and Robert White were once progressive allies on the council. Both were elected with the endorsement of Attorney General Karl Racine.

  • But Racine backed Robert's mayoral campaign after Trayon launched a surprise bid through an Instagram comment, upending the political state of play.
  • In a tweet, Trayon White blasted Robert White before the board announced its ruling: "You should be ashamed of that weak witch hunt you went on to silence democracy of brown and black people. I thought you were better than that slim. Just drop out now, it’s up! Power to the People!"

Meanwhile, Trayon White's campaign also qualified for public campaign financing after raising enough small-dollar donations from D.C. residents. Despite a slow start to fundraising — he is far behind the top two candidates — he received $282,000 in public dollars for his campaign on Thursday.

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