Feb 28, 2024 - News
Town Talker

Recall efforts mount against two progressive D.C. lawmakers

Brianne Nadeau leads a group of people on a crime walk through a street

Council member Brianne Nadeau (center right) on a crime walk in 2015. Photo: Matt McClain/The Washington Post via Getty Images

It's recall season in D.C., with two progressive council members facing organized efforts to remove them from office because of anger over crime.

Why it matters: A council member has never been recalled from office, and the pressure mounts as lawmakers will take a final vote on a sweeping crime bill next Tuesday.

What I'm hearing: The Charles Allen recall campaigners — with national Democratic consultant firepower — this week announced hitting the $100,000 mark in fundraising since early January.

  • On the other side, the anti-recall effort, led by former council member Tommy Wells, says it has raised over $50,000 in over a week,
  • They're both big sums so far, considering candidates running for D.C. Council typically will raise a few hundred thousand dollars over election years.

Meanwhile, Ward 1 council member Brianne Nadeau — who represents Columbia Heights, Adams Morgan, and Shaw — is target #2.

  • A separate recall was launched against her last week by Diana Alvarez, owner of Columbia Heights smoke shop Lit City after her store was broken into four times last year.
  • "We've seen Brianne is not responsive to public safety concerns," Alvarez told Axios.
  • Similar to the Allen recall, the Ward 1 campaign echoes concerns about Nadeau voting in 2020 to divert $15 million in proposed police funding to other programs, along with supporting the criminal code reform that was overruled by Congress and President Biden.

What they're saying: "I have two small children," Nadeau told Axios. "Public safety is top of mind for me, not only as a council member but as a mom."

  • Context: Nadeau was elected to a third term in 2022 after winning the Democratic primary with 49% support. Her top rival had positioned himself as a former cop who argued the incumbent was soft on crime.

Between the lines: The Nadeau recall campaign has help from lead strategist Alex Madison, who in his day job works for Targeted Victory, a firm that has worked on big national GOP campaigns.

  • "We are accepting whoever wants to help us for our cause," says Alvarez, a Democrat who did not vote for Nadeau in 2022.

On the pro-Nadeau side is grassroots campaigner extraordinaire Adam Eidinger. He led the 2014 ballot initiative to legalize marijuana and tells me he will also support Allen.

  • "If you really want to hold someone accountable for D.C. crime, recall Mayor Bowser," Eidinger says.

The bottom line: Recall campaigns need to collect signatures from at least 10% of registered voters in their ward in order to force a special election. To be safe, they will likely want to collect about 8,000 signatures.

📸 In other news … mayors, they're just like us: Muriel Bowser spotted at the D.C. Costco. Town Talker is a column about money and power. Send me spotteds and tips: [email protected]

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