Trump supporter runs for office in D.C. neighborhood
Trumpism is on the ballot in D.C, but not by way of the longshot Republican candidates for mayor and council.
The MAGA standard bearer in D.C. is Lenwood Johnson, a former local Democratic official running for neighborhood commission in his working class, majority-Black neighborhood in Southeast.
What I’m hearing: Some politicos east of the Anacostia River are watching Johnson with astonishment. Others are amused by his candidacy and are staying open-minded.
I wouldn’t typically regale you with tales about advisory neighborhood commissions, but c’mon: As one Ward 8 politico pointed out to me, his success would mean MAGA is making inroads in a Black, heavily Democratic D.C. community.
- And Johnson has a Trumpian taste for controversy that his electorate’s 2,000-some voters might want to know about. A former Columbia Heights commissioner, he once told a reporter he illegally carried an unregistered gun and often raised listserv mischief, trolling a constituent for “bitchassness.” (Oh, there’s more — later.)
The big picture: Advisory neighborhood commissions are the lowest level of D.C. politics, often home to rabble-rousing over development and bicycle lanes. The nonpartisan public office is filled in the general election.
- ANCs don’t have decision-making power, but they submit official opinions about neighborhood projects and advocate for, say, improving a recreation center or filling a pothole.
Zoom in: Johnson is running against Erica Green for the open ANC 8C seat, which includes part of Congress Heights.
- Green, who helped establish a neighborhood community garden after a shooting, is running to improve public safety and walkability. Johnson’s Trumpism is “very scary for our community,” she tells me.
- When door knocking, Johnson swaps typical conservative talking points with a desire to repave the "pothole-y" Martin Luther King Avenue SE. A library staffer for law firms, he wants the District to expand library hours.
But make no mistake, Johnson describes himself as “pro-gun and pro-God.” His Toyota Camry has four Trump bumper stickers, including two for 2024. He’s a fan of Georgia Republican Senate candidate Herschel Walker.
- When people question his Trump fanaticism: “I say, why does it matter?”
Johnson, 62, grew up in rural central Virginia before moving here and graduating from Howard University in 1983. He spent about ten years as a D.C. Democratic State Committee member.
When I recite his record in Ward 1, he chuckles and acknowledges all of the episodes:
- His admission of possessing an unregistered gun was followed by a police raid, which didn’t turn up a firearm.
- Insulting an ANC colleague as a “lowlife” in 2011.
- And the time the Washington Post reported in 2012 he used his D.C. government-paid cellphone for hours-long calls to adults-only phone lines.
What they’re saying: His Trump support “don’t mean a thing over here,” says longtime Ward 8 politico Sandra Segars, a fan of his.
Not to mention, Johnson is still a registered Democrat. Really.
A skeptic of mail ballots, he only trusts voting in person on Election Day.
- Will he accept the results of his race, one that will likely garner a few hundred votes?
- He lets out a deep sigh. Like a Trump disciple: “If I win, of course, yes.”
💬 Town Talker is a weekly column on local politics and power. Drop me a line about the talk of the town: [email protected]
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