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Why good people like Fiona Greig don't run for Council

Ward 2 insurgent DC Council candidate Fiona Greig announced this morning that she's dropping out of the race against 20-year incumbent Jack Evans. Greig did not withdraw due to lack of support, but because she didn't want to expose her young family to the gutter politics and smear campaigns she encountered in her short time as a candidate.

I was chair of Greig's campaign. As a result, I got an inside look at what running for DC Council requires, and why the process intimidates good people from running.

Some may say that she was naïve and amateurish. And it's true that she was somewhat naïve to the ways of DC politics. Several people cautioned her before she ran that she should expect an intense effort to dig up any dirt whatsoever.

Ask yourself, however, if we should accept a political culture in which only hardened, cynical politicos want to run. And conversely, should we accept a system in which a woman with a young family (husband Paul and daughter Ella), who received a PhD in public policy from Harvard and worked for the Deputy Mayor for Economic Development as a manager at McKinsey, doesn't.

It was clear to us early that Greig (pronounced "Greg") could win. The demographic shift in Ward 2 since 2000 has been tremendous, and Evans has not really tried to connect with the new young residents to understand their concerns. Neither did Evans' last opponent, Cary Silverman. Evans beat Cary Silverman in 2008 and a ragtag collection of opponents in 2000 by only 1,500 out of a total of 5,000 votes.

The response of voters to Greig's door-to-door canvassing was overwhelmingly positive. Greig's message of retaining young families by improving school options, parks and transit while applying her consulting expertise to re-engineer DC agencies instantly resonated with these voters on doorsteps across the ward.

While he's raised way more so far ($233,000) than he had at the same point in the 2008 campaign ($160,824), he's raised much less from Ward 2 individuals so far ($36,200) than he had at the same point in the 2008 campaign ($55,931). Where's the money coming from then? For starters, one developer in Maryland gave Evans $6,000 ($500 from each of his separately incorporated properties) while Clyde's Restaurant gave him $3,500 ($500 from each separately incorporated restaurant location).

While Greig was going door-to-door connecting with voters, Evans pursued a very different campaign strategy. He hired a private investigator.

We found this out when Greig received a phone call from a journalist asking about a list of 40 fundraising targets inadvertently included in the first filing of her exploratory committee by a volunteer. Greig explained the context and the journalist decided the story wasn't newsworthy. We called the Office of Campaign Finance, who told us that a private investigator had requested the file.

The next day another journalist contacted us about the embarrassing file, Greig explained the context, and the journalist didn't run the story. It was clear that Jack Evans' full-time campaign staff was shopping the file they had received from their private investigator to different journalists.

Meanwhile, Greig received a call at her home by someone she met at a campaign event telling her that Evans' staff knows about her husband's divorce, and the problematic timing of his divorce vis-a-vis their wedding in November of last year. Obviously few people knew such personal details of her family's life.

Finally, Evans' staff found a journalist to run the story and release the file of fundraising targets. Particularly embarrassing in the file was the volunteer's note that one of the targets was a gay colleague of Greig's at McKinsey.

No mention was made about Greig's testimony earlier in the week to the DC Council on the alarming rise in hate crimes in the District. In fact, few journalists covered the hate crimes hearing at all. The minutiae of campaign missteps was more important than the rash of violence this summer against members of the transgender community.

Last week, I walked to Greig's house during all this drama, talking on my cell about the campaign to a colleague while I walked, and noticed a man walking close behind me smoking a cigar. When I stopped in front of Greig's house, he stopped. He then kept walking and then turned around to pace up and down her block about a dozen times. Greig's husband arrived later pushing Ella in a stroller, talking to friend on the phone. We told him about the investigator pacing the block and he came inside.

And that's just the intimidation from Evans' private investigator. Chair Anita Bonds of the DC Democratic Party, for example, refused to return our repeated phone calls and emails requesting to purchase enhanced voter data that the party resells to candidates. At the end of all of this, Greig considered her wonderful husband of one year, her beautiful new daughter, and decided that it wasn't worth it. I can't say I blame her.

Should she have expected these hardball tactics? Probably. But ask yourself this. How many other talented young individuals in DC have made the same decision to avoid politics? DC residents complain all the time about our councilmembers. But we can't complain about our representatives while defending the process that keeps better people from running.

It's a shame that Ward 2 voters now have no choice when it comes to their councilmember. I'm not discouraged, though. Every day it seems more and more District residents are fed up with politics as usual. I'm hoping to hear from others in Ward 2 who want a more inclusive government, and are more interested in digging through budgets than through an insurgent candidate's trash.

Ken Archer is CTO of a software firm in Tysons Corner. He commutes to Tysons by bus from his home in Georgetown, where he lives with his wife and son. Ken completed a Masters degree in Philosophy from The Catholic University of America. 


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I've already deleted 2 comments. If you comment, please remember our comment policy. Feel free to disagree with Ken if you wish, but you have to do that in a respectful and mature way, or else I will have no compunction about deleting your comment.

by David Alpert on Nov 9, 2011 8:14 am • linkreport

That's so slimy! I will be encouraging everyone I know that lives in Ward 2 not to vote for Jack Evans.

by Ariel on Nov 9, 2011 8:19 am • linkreport

Was that inquiry made by a licensed private investigator?

by Inspector General on Nov 9, 2011 8:21 am • linkreport

The report was obtained by his campaign, not a private investigator, according to press reports. Anybody can get this info anyway - it is public information. And I'm sorry, but I don't buy the "man looking through my windows" complaint.

It is called opposition research. Fiona obviously couldn't stomach it. If she expected otherwise, she was greener than I thought.

Politics is a full contact sport and Fiona would be better off simply stating that she doesnt want to subject her family to that rather than all of these conspiracy theories about investigators and men lurking in the night.

by Fiddler on Nov 9, 2011 8:27 am • linkreport

Yep, just what dc needs. Another politican who doesn't want to do politics.

Caren meerrick is another example. Going to harvard and working at McKinsey is terrible training for politics

by Charlie on Nov 9, 2011 8:42 am • linkreport

The sad thing here is what Evans found probably wouldn't seem that objectionable to the voting public. So she got married before her husband was technically divorced? I have trouble seeing that as particularly newsworthy to her potential constituents. It's not like it was a sham wedding or anything. They got married, have stayed together and have a child. And the list accidentally included would be old news well before the election actually rolled around.

As a former opposition researcher I can tell you we rarely come up with a deal-breaker at the council level unless it's from a hack like Evans who has been in office long enough to get his hands dirty. Greig is not Herman Cain. We're not talking about her office buying off people she tried to pressure into sex for jobs. So much of this "research" is repackaged by pollsters and direct mail/TV vendors into something that doesn't even resemble the truth. I'd love to see what kind of probably actionable misstatements Evans campaign was going to spin from their "research." This is why good people don't win or don't run. The irony is, if Greig had run a research operation against Evans, given his tenure she'd probably have been much more likely to find questionable behavior from him than he would of her. It's just a sad reality that time in office makes you better at playing dirty.

by All the Bacon and Eggs on Nov 9, 2011 8:45 am • linkreport

I have to agree with Fiddler. Campaigns are tough fights at any level, as are policy fights on the council. Personal attacks (even at a family level) have always been and always will be a part of politics, regardless of any "Why does it have to be this way?" complaints from commentators/journalists/etc. To have been surprised by any of this is definitely naive, and makes me wonder whether she was really ready to be on the council.

It's disappointing, because I'm no fan of Evans and was initially optimistic about her campaign. We need people with fresh ideas and a positive approach to reform and governance, but if they can't take some hard punches and throw some elbows when needed, they're not going to be very effective at any level of politics.

by J.D. on Nov 9, 2011 8:49 am • linkreport

The sad thing here is what Evans found probably wouldn't seem that objectionable to the voting public. So she got married before her husband was technically divorced? I have trouble seeing that as particularly newsworthy to her potential constituents. It's not like it was a sham wedding or anything.

Well ... people look to how candidates act and not just what they say they'd do as evidence of their abilities to perform. This is the first I'd heard of the divorce issue (and I don't know if what was written here is complete), but my thought here based on this would be 'she was gullible enough to marry someone who wasn't divorced yet?' Yes, it probably indicates that she has a good and trusting heart ... but given the forces at work, is a good and trusting heart what's needed to do the job here? As even Ken is aluding to, it's hardball out there. And as we're seeing with Obama, just saying you'll do something or make sure it happens isn't enough in the world of politics (or in the world of business). You have to have the skills and experience to enable you to deliver on these promises.

by Lance on Nov 9, 2011 8:55 am • linkreport

It is obvious with her credentials that she is "smart", but man oh man, her naivete is seemingly off the chart. I am a little curious as how someone who has been alive the past ~3 decades wouldn't know that politics is as someone said, a full contact sport that ALWAYS involves ones family, friends and past history? Did she and Ken really think should wound't have to endure the barest of opposition research that turns up information, that by the way is already in the public domain? C'mon now...

Yes, on a macro level we can all wax poetic about how our politicial machine "should" act, but it hasn't ever been th at way and expecting to change for one campaign in one city is naieve.

by freely on Nov 9, 2011 9:07 am • linkreport

"by only 1,500 out of a total of 5,000 votes"

Um, so he won 3250 to 1750? That's getting 67% of the vote. With math skills like these, I don't think the Evans campaign was too worried.

by Dell on Nov 9, 2011 9:10 am • linkreport

I would have voted for her if I lived in Ward 2 and she stayed in. Too bad.

by Ward 1 Guy on Nov 9, 2011 9:11 am • linkreport

If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.

by Teddy Roosevelt on Nov 9, 2011 9:20 am • linkreport

@Ward 1 Guy "I would have voted for her if I lived in Ward 2 and she stayed in. Too bad."

Well now's your chance. Find someone to oppose Jim Graham in the next Ward 1 election. Lord knows, Graham in his machinations of the political machine and cut throat tactics makes Evans look like Goldilocks.

I remember years ago (when I was in Ward 1) being asked by his chief of staff to attend a very special Ward 1 Dems meeting ... at the request of the CM. I was told why it was special ... And it wasn't until I was there and noticed hostility that I realized the intent of having me there (and a lot of other unsuspecting neighborhood activists and ANC commissioners) was to pull a 'coup' on the existing leadership of the Ward 1 Dems ... which didn't support his re-election ...

by Lance on Nov 9, 2011 9:27 am • linkreport

* I wasn't told why it was special ...

by Lance on Nov 9, 2011 9:28 am • linkreport

This is the first I'd heard of the divorce issue

There is no divorce issue, other than the fact that her husband is divorced. They married well after the divorce. What was intimidating for Greig was the muffled phone call itself, and the threat of false accusations about her family.

She was warned that such dirty tricks could happen, but I think it's difficult for new candidates to fully prepare for it until it's really happening.

by Ken Archer on Nov 9, 2011 9:34 am • linkreport

Ah - DC politics - so many big fish in such a tiny tiny pool.
Clearly the only way to get younger people into DC politics is to have Daddy run and then resign, and help hoist you into the vacated seat. (Maybe Evans wants to keep his seat until his kids are old enough to inherit - but which one will serve first? Or will all three share the seat, like the Roman Triumvirate?)
But first and foremost -(Christopher) Barry for Mayor!

by Anon202 on Nov 9, 2011 9:40 am • linkreport

PLEASE someone run against Jim Graham and don't let it be a half a dozen people. Folks in Ward 1 need to coalesce around a consensus candidate and get rid of that corrupt asshole immediately. Be prepared for a fight--Graham and Chuck Thies fight incredibly dirty--and Graham's mail consultant will literally print anything, regardless of truth. But Graham is beatable because he's not a good council member. He only cares about whoever's lining his pockets, and he only cares about "ethics" when reporters are stupid enough to focus their energy on Lady Gaga tickets.

by Run against Graham on Nov 9, 2011 9:44 am • linkreport

So, shorter version: Greig had no idea what running against a long-term incumbent was going to be like and a week into her candidacy, decided she didn't have what it took.

On the one hand, I don't envy the insanity it takes to run for office, particularly against a long-serving and very well-funded opponent, and it's good to get out early.

On the other hand, this level of naivete is astonishing! Perhaps if she had participated in any previous DC campaigns or run for ANC, she would have seen it's a pretty brutal, full-contact sport where just about anything is fair game.

Also, that Greig's campaign manager is putting into the public spotlight the issue of the "unfortunate timing" of her wedding and her husband's divorce is astounding political campaign malpractice. I assume very few people had any inkling of this issue. Now, it's out in the public domain for rampant speculation (bigamy? fraud?).

Greig made for a good candidate on paper. But paper is not reality. A fancy degree from a fancy college has no bearing on a person's ability to be a successful candidate or elected leader.

by Fritz on Nov 9, 2011 9:49 am • linkreport

Charlie nails it,

Politics is basically knife fighting in suits, and requires hardened people to carry out successful policy. And they need to come out of it smiling and looking the part.

The people most involved (those donating all this money to candidates) are playing for keeps, and they won't sit by and let their special favors flutter away in the wind while a good government candidate comes along. No, they'll drive that candidate into the muck, and if that candidate still has a chance, those very same people will give them a hand up, a fat donation and a plea to keep their special consideration.

Its a rare bird that can withstand this and consistently keep the public interest in mind above all.

by Will on Nov 9, 2011 9:52 am • linkreport

I've helped run a couple of campaigns in this town and the comments about Anita Bonds and the DCDSC's reluctance to provide material does not surprise me at all. On the campaigns where I worked, it was like pulling teeth to get this information from the DCDSC with many, many unreturned phone calls and unanswered emails. They will get it to candidates eventually (and of course for a cost), but if you're a challenger, start planning early to get that info.

by Campaign Manager on Nov 9, 2011 9:55 am • linkreport

Are there any other Evans challenges in the wings? We need to get someone who supports their constituents, not just business and the super rich. I'm sorry to see Greig out of the race, I definitely would have voted for her.

by Anyone But Evans on Nov 9, 2011 9:55 am • linkreport

It's a shame that Grieg couldn't make a go of it, but maybe it's for the best. Now there's plenty of room for someone else to get in the race ready and able to go after the progressive/reform voters.

There's nothing inevitable about an Evans win. There are thousands of new Ward 2 residents in the eastern part of the ward who have little or no allegiance to Evans or his machine. They could be motivated to vote by a candidate who can run on a platform of reforming the District government and pushing for the kind of improvements that will keep young people in the District and in Ward 2.

Even the long-time residents who've voted for Evans election after election have to see him as weak and ineffective when it comes to what really matters. Fixing parking tickets is fine, but Evans has done nothing to fix the ethics mess swirling around the Council and the mayor's office. As long as he's been on the Council and he can't come up with a way to clean it up? The only time I ever hear about Evans is when he's come up with another scheme to build Dan Snyder a glittering palace somewhere in the District. Is that what Ward 2 wants in a Council Member?

by Matt W on Nov 9, 2011 9:58 am • linkreport

I don't see what's so unfair here. She either wants to be a public figure or she doesn't. If she doesn't, maybe she's better off as a bureaucrat somewhere.

To me this comes across as sour grapes. I hope she's done with politics for good because I wouldn't vote for someone who whines like this when people play hardball.

by Greg on Nov 9, 2011 10:09 am • linkreport

Sure, there's naïveté, and you've got to be ready for a dirty campaign, but I do find it more than a little creepy that, 2 or 3 days after the announcement, Ken is literally being followed wherever he goes by a PI? That seems over the top, even if you're cynical about what to expect.

by Arl Anon on Nov 9, 2011 10:14 am • linkreport

I'll echo Charlie's comment that I'm extremely disappointed that the Oct 27th op-ed by Fiona on GGW did not mention a GGW-contributor (Archer) was her campaign manager.

by Paul S on Nov 9, 2011 10:19 am • linkreport

I think Ken might be a little narcissistic in assuming he was being tailed. A guy walking around the block smoking a cigar isn't that unusual. For all Ken knows that guy lives on the block and his wife doesn't let him smoke in the house.

Now, if Ken left Grieg's house, took a few random turns, and this guy still was following, that would be evidence of tailing.

I also wonder why all the people involved were so timid that they can't confront a guy they think is conducting surveillance on them.

by Phil on Nov 9, 2011 10:21 am • linkreport

Private investigators in DC politics are old hat. There is a breed of investigator out there who are very good, operate more like consultants than broken-down former detectives, are extremely discreet, and if they do their job right, you never see their fingerprints. Most of the long time politicians here have either used their services at some point or been the target of one or more.

by Crickey7 on Nov 9, 2011 10:23 am • linkreport

I believe democracy and our city is best served when elections feature opponents, and I appreciate Mrs. Greig's involvement in our democratic process until this morning. Her candidacy forced me to evaluate who to support in this race more than if no choice had been provided.

However, in the end I decided to support the incumbent candidate, Jack Evans, because of these reasons:
- Residents of my single member district with whom I spoke were either in favor of the candidate or indifferent. Most who were aware of her candidacy, but felt she had not yet presented a clear alternative to Evans.
- The one time I spoke with Greig she was incredibly friendly, positive and personable, but did not overly impress me with an issue near and dear to the hearts of many of my residents (parking).
- Her website did not mention any LGBT issues or platform. As an ANC commissioner in Logan Circle, I represent a very large LGBT community and her lack of published platform on these issues was pointed out to me several times by residents.
- Greig labeled a potential donor as a "homosexual." No matter her opinion of gay people, or involvement in LGBT issues, such labeling appears insensitive and ignorant, and it stands in stark contrast to the years of pro-LGBT work the incumbent candidate has to rely on.
- Greig's plans for what she would do are far from detailed or concrete. I think most citizens are in favor of balanced budgets, efficient government and ethical elected officials, but as my seventh grade math teacher always said, "Don't come to me with a problem. Come to me with a solution."
- The Greig campaign's website reinforced the feeling she may not be completely serious about running. The link to follow the campaign on Twitter never worked. The "calendar" tab never had anything listed. A website may not win or lose an election, but it can reinforce perceived strengths and weaknesses. Greig's campaign site, unfortunately, reinforced the negatives.

All told, I was pleased Jack Evans had an opponent, but last week I made the decision to support him because there was little evidence to me, and to my residents, that his opponent would be a better alternative.

I have no doubt Mrs. Greig is bright, hard working and a positive member of our community. I just don't think, right now, she would have made a better Ward 2 councilperson.

My hope is that instead of focusing on what others did to prevent her campaign from succeeding, Mrs. Greig focus on what she can do better next time if she chooses to run again, and what she can do to better herself for a possible future run.

- Nick Barron
ANC 2F02 Commissioner

by Nick Barron, ANC 2F02 Commissioner on Nov 9, 2011 10:25 am • linkreport

I feel like many folks are missing the point of the op-ed. Regardless of whether politics is hardball or a "knife fight" or whatever overblown language people want to use, I feel like the basic point that politics SHOULDN'T be like that is pretty valid. I would much rather have campaigns run where the focus is actually on records of accomplishment and policy positions. Unfortunately, many of our politicians as well as many voters and journalists would rather not do that, for a variety of reasons.

Yes, it's naive to expect an honorable campaign from Jack Evans or most of the rest of politicians today. But that doesn't mean it's a good thing.

by Joe on Nov 9, 2011 10:26 am • linkreport

Ken: in the initial piece, you refer to "the problematic timing of his divorce vis-a-vis their wedding in November of last year." But in a follow-up comment, you say, "There is no divorce issue, other than the fact that her husband is divorced." What is the "problematic timing" you refer to? I don't know anything about this, and I'd appreciate it if you (or someone) could enlighten me. Thanks.

by dcd on Nov 9, 2011 10:26 am • linkreport

Perhaps its for the best that she decided not to run. If she thought that this was too much, it will only get worse when she actually has to sit down and govern. I don't think its right, but whenever money and power are involved, that's the game that must be played.

by SJ on Nov 9, 2011 10:36 am • linkreport

At least she had the courage to run against that old dinosaur. Tom Lindenfeld is responsible for the dirty tricks. Opposition research? No, more like character assasination and trash. Someone should investigate Tommy and his dirty laundry.

by Jolly Rancher on Nov 9, 2011 10:39 am • linkreport

Sorry to say, but the whole "Homosexual McKinsey" thing but a very bad taste in my mouth, and I'm sure in others' as well. It's not that she used the word 'homosexual' - really, who cares? - but it's just insensitive, unsophisticated, and naive to identify anyone (especially a potential donor!) solely by their sexual orientation. I would doubt the potential donor in question would have appreciated it either.

by Scoot on Nov 9, 2011 10:51 am • linkreport

I don't like Jack Evans. Competition is good, and I was hoping someone would challenge Evans in the worst way. Now Fiona Greig has done that.

In her long statement of non-candidacy today Greig claims to have been embarassed by what she reads in the paper about DC elected officials, but never admits error or embarassment for having filed in the public records her list of potential campaign contributors. She (and Ken Archer) did that all on their own, with no help from alleged "private investigators."

And once again, GGW demonstrates a tin ear and no real expertise when it comes to local DC politics. GGW should get out of the endorsement business if Archer-backed amateurs like Fiona Greig are the best GGW's endorsement efforts can produce.

by Trulee Pist on Nov 9, 2011 10:53 am • linkreport

You know that if it was another candidate, you would not be so forgiving.

by beatbox on Nov 9, 2011 11:01 am • linkreport

Yes it's bad that these tactics are used by elected officials. But the solution isn't to quit because they exist, it's to endure them, win the election, and then change the culture.

Though saying that I'm not sure Mrs. Greig had what it would take to win. As others have said her naivete seemed problematic. Also, I don't think she had formed her policy ideas fully yet (though we were only two weeks in).

And finally, to echo others, if a GGW contributor is managing a candidate's campaign, and that candidate has a post on this website, there clearly needs to be some disclosure of that fact.

by Steven Yates on Nov 9, 2011 11:03 am • linkreport

"....he's raised way more so far ($233,000) than he had at the same point in the 2008 campaign ($160,824), he's raised much less from Ward 2 individuals so far ($36,200) than he had at the same point in the 2008 campaign ($55,931)."

Actually, the 2008 campaign was on a different time schedule. The 2012 democratic primary was moved up 5 months from September in 2008 to April in 2012. Evans is pulling in just as much from developers and businesses that are reliant on favorable treatment from the city (or afraid of retribution) as always.

by MoMoney on Nov 9, 2011 11:08 am • linkreport

Trulee Pist, there was no GGW endorsement effort. GGW has not yet endorsed anyway. "GGW" was not behind Fiona Greig. One contributor, Ken Archer, was. Newspapers publish op-eds by candidates all the time, but that doesn't mean they are endorsing that candidate.

We have an endorsement team which has Jack Evans and candidates in other races to post articles about their vision for DC. The team members plan to write articles about their view of the race, and will eventually make endorsements once readers have had a chance to hear from many candidates and discuss their positions.

by David Alpert on Nov 9, 2011 11:11 am • linkreport


Exactly what dirty tricks is he guilty of? Pulling public records?

And let's assume she was followed by a PI. If she folds at that, what will she do when Mark Segraves gets on her about something?

by beatbox on Nov 9, 2011 11:17 am • linkreport

Actually, the 2008 campaign was on a different time schedule. The 2012 democratic primary was moved up 5 months from September in 2008 to April in 2012. Evans is pulling in just as much from developers and businesses that are reliant on favorable treatment from the city (or afraid of retribution) as always.

The analysis took that into consideration. Basically, Evans has raised significantly less when 5 months away from the primary this year than he did in 2008.

In fact, Evans has only raised 16% of his money from constituents, whereas he had raised 35% of his money from constituents 5 months away from the 2008 primary election. In this campaign, the amount he raised from developer Richard Cohen and from Clyde's Restaurant represents over 25% of all the money he has received from constituents.

by Ken Archer on Nov 9, 2011 11:18 am • linkreport

Should GGW have disclosed that Ken Archer was the "campaign Manager"?

This is a classic "appearance of conflict" vs actual conflict. Jack Evans got dinged up a few days ago here for treading in the same terrority.

My test is materiality. Would it have made a difference in Grieg's op-ed that a note on the bottom saying "Ken Archer is mangaing this campaign or effort?" Absolutely. As you can see, it already changed the disccusion.

[Sentence removed for violating the comment policy.] Disclosing this would have been proper.

by charlie on Nov 9, 2011 11:22 am • linkreport

GGW has not yet endorsed anyway. "GGW" was not behind Fiona Greig. One contributor, Ken Archer, was.

I think you may be elevating semantics over substance here. If GGW does not endorse the views of its regular contributors then what does it endorse?

by Scoot on Nov 9, 2011 11:43 am • linkreport

Maybe she had something else to hide that she was concerned would come out upon further investigation. It's good that she dropped out though lest something like that could be used to control her vote if actually elected.

Also, I don't know that writing "homosexual" next to someones name is necessarily offensive. I mean the guy was indeed openly homosexual right? Maybe she was just making a note for the purpose of further engaging with the gay community or trying to track her progress with that demographic. Who knows but it's hardly a big deal. IMHO anyway.

by Doug on Nov 9, 2011 11:44 am • linkreport

@David Albert, that's excellent news, if true, about GGW having an endorsement team which has Jack Evans and candidates in other races to post articles about their vision for DC. The team members plan to write articles about their view of the race, and will eventually make endorsements once readers have had a chance to hear from many candidates and discuss their positions.

Suggestion #1: Please rewrite the first sentence of your post, quoted here. It doesn't make sense. Do you mean the Endorsement Team will solicit and post short pieces from candidates explaining themselves and their platforms, for the benefit of voters? That would be a solid contribution.

Suggestion #2: If a GGW contributor or a member of the GGW Endorsement Team wants to write an article about a candidate, and the GGW contributor/ET member happens to be the candidate's campaign manager, get that disclosure out loud and clear at the outset.

by Trulee Pist on Nov 9, 2011 11:47 am • linkreport

[Sentence removed for violating the comment policy.] There's no dirty tricks revealed here, just standard opposition research. If you don't expect that in a council race -- in any city -- then you're clueless. If there's something else, it's not in the story.

And the grousing about the fundraising list is ridiculous. Just the other day GGW ran a story about the beneficial uses of public records. I understand it's embarrassing that internal documents were mistakenly filed, but the error is that the campaign filed them, not that someone used the public records law to retrieve them.

by Reader on Nov 9, 2011 11:56 am • linkreport

Two thoughts: First, yes politics can be brutal, but there's no reason to celebrate it when a politician acts like a scumbag. We might get more decent politicians if folks didn't just shrug and dismiss it. This incident does illustrate a fundamental character disorder--and it's not Greig's.

Secondly, if politics is left to the amoral predators, it's pretty much guaranteed that the public's interest will be ignored.

by oboe on Nov 9, 2011 12:08 pm • linkreport

"celebrate it when a politician acts like a scumbag"

I don't see any evidence of that. What I do see is amateur hour. Homosexual Mckinsey? Come on. That is really weak.

Rather like sending in a cover letter with spelling mistakes. You're not going to get that job.

by charlie on Nov 9, 2011 12:18 pm • linkreport

wrt trulee pist's comment, I would agree with him that the Grieg piece was a tacit endorsement.

At least in my blog, I only run pieces that I agree with--well, that's not completely true. I will run a piece that's extremely well argued that I disagree with, but it's very very rare.

Granted it's not a group blog and there is a more democratic process in your blog because it's a group blog, but I can't expect to see in GGW a piece by someone running against Tommy Wells, or a piece by Christopher Barry about the value of poltical primogeniture. I know that I wouldn't allow such pieces to run in my blog.

For you to argue otherwise, you'd have to systematically get pieces on all sides of an issue, and with regard to candidates, proactively give every candidate the opportunity to run something--without heavy editing.

by Richard Layman on Nov 9, 2011 12:50 pm • linkreport

First of all, this article is full of unsupported innuendo and devoid of any facts supporting a single allegation of wrong doing. So, who's playing dirty politics now?

Simply put, Grieg was a small furry creature who decided to enter a snake pit. Perhaps she should have started in a lesser elected role before running for a council seat.

by Moose on Nov 9, 2011 1:01 pm • linkreport

by Moose on Nov 9, 2011 1:01 pm ---- makes a great point. Whether this blog endorses anyone, it is now a mouthpiece for this woman's campaign manager to spread unsupported dirty rumors about the other candidate.

by Inspector General on Nov 9, 2011 1:33 pm • linkreport

First of all, this article is full of unsupported innuendo and devoid of any facts supporting a single allegation of wrong doing. So, who's playing dirty politics now?

Simply put, Grieg was a small furry creature who decided to enter a snake pit. Perhaps she should have started in a lesser elected role before running for a council seat.

It seems to me that many of the commenters here are completely missing the point of the article.

I don't believe it was meant to imply that the intention was to support an allegation of any particular "wrong doing" on the part of Evans. Archer describes hiring a detective, accessing public records, and shopping unflattering (but largely non-substantial) stories to the press. Nowhere is it implied that any of that is illegal. Indeed, Archer takes pains to point out that such tactics aren't really even "wrong" by the standards of what goes down in modern political campaigns, and indeed should probably have been fully expected.

It's just that I think we can all agree that it's...sleazy.

And so, in an ideal world: the press would run only substantive, relevant stories; fresh, [potentially] competent and promising new candidates would not be discouraged from running by the prospect of putting themselves and their families through slimy campaigns; and candidates whose best hopes for winning are sleazy tricks rather than running on their ideas or their record would find themselves at a disadvantage -- certainly they wouldn't be the only ones willing to run!

Which is, of course, not how things work right now. (So pointing that out doesn't add much to the conversation.)

As far as practical suggestions, I think Steven Yates may have the right of it:

Yes it's bad that these tactics are used by elected officials. But the solution isn't to quit because they exist, it's to endure them, win the election, and then change the culture.

by jack lecou on Nov 9, 2011 1:37 pm • linkreport

Was I the only person alive during the last 2 years? The Fenty/Gray campaign was as far from cordial as triple sec standing in for Grand Mariner.

Didn't many of us here contribute to the creation of that toxic environment? It was downright nasty.

I don't feel particularly bad for Fiona because she didn't seem to possess the steely spine now needed in politics. And that's good for her.

Can't stand the heat? You better leave Mississippi during the summer. :)

by HogWash on Nov 9, 2011 1:45 pm • linkreport

And Ken's article is no different than those of others who've taken a position on a particular issue. In this case, he's giving his opinion as to why good people (potentially good politicians) don't run for the council. I didn't really get the whole magnum pi aspect of it but there is a reason why "good" people don't run.

They don't want to get dirty. And that's ok. But let's remember that the sword definately cuts both ways. You don't like when your favicand is subject to "unfair" attacks/attention, then remind yourself not to engage in kind because this is definately cyclical and only wrong when we're offended.

by HogWash on Nov 9, 2011 1:55 pm • linkreport

Do you really think that having someone collect Greig's filing info from OCF and then trying to get attention to the embarassing document is strange or innapropriate behavior for a candidate/campaign?

Wouldn't you do the same thing if it were your campaign?

by Keith on Nov 9, 2011 3:36 pm • linkreport

@Keith; excellent question.

[Sentence removed for violating the comment policy.] When you make statements like these, don't open up new lines of inqurity. Now, after reading this entire post, inquring minds want to know:

1) Was Fiona Grieg's marriage bigamous?
2) What was the deal with the husband and the previous spouse?
3) Did you, Ken Archer, as campaign chair, go through Evans financial filings? Did anyone else?
4) Do you consider that behavior scandalous? If not, why do you accuse the Evans campaign of sleeze when you are doing the same thing?
5) Did you, as campaign chair, approve the filing of the form with the "homesexual Mckinsey" item?
6) Did you tell David Alpert and the rest of the GGW team of your afflicationing with the Griegg campaign before the op-ed was submitted? Why was there no notification? Are David Alpert and other GGW contributors listed in the campaign filing?
7) How did you identity the private investigator -- who has denied it?
8) How did you link the man in the cigar to the Evans campaign?
9) WHo is the man in the cigar? You have identified one PI? Was he the same?
10) [Sentence removed for violating the comment policy.]

I could go on, but it is tiresome. Don't open new lines of inqurity. #1 and #2 would be fatal in the real world.

Sigh -- politics. [Sentence removed for violating the comment policy.]

by charlie on Nov 9, 2011 4:19 pm • linkreport

I am very disappointed to hear that Fiona needed to remove herself from the race. I was hopeful that Ward 2 could be represented by someone who cares as much about the community interests as the business interests (if not slightly more the former than the latter). Her candidacy was a bright spot for this Georgetowner.

by Ward2 Social Justice on Nov 9, 2011 5:16 pm • linkreport

Oddly, I feel that I like her better as a person not afraid to bend religion-based laws like monogamy. If, indeed, that is the case.

Not that there's anything wrong with monogamy. Some of my best friends are monogamists.

by Crickey7 on Nov 9, 2011 5:28 pm • linkreport

Am I the only one dying to know what Charlie (repeatedly) says to get dinged? (In addition to my previous question to Ken, which has remained unanswered. Shocking, I know.)

by dcd on Nov 9, 2011 6:06 pm • linkreport

Bummer to hear Greig is out... while I never quite finalise who I'll vote for until the moment I'm standing in the booth, I did like many of her aspirations and am not particularly satisfied with our current ward's representation -- so I'm certainly open to other options. Alas, with the lack of other options now... looks like this will be yet another election where I show up and enter in a blank vote. Or my occasional blank vote alternative: writing in myself. I get a kick out of doing that ever since running a campaign in college of "Want to throw you vote away? Throw it away by voting for me!"

by Bossi on Nov 9, 2011 7:20 pm • linkreport

I don't blame Grieg for naivete, but I do think she should have at least hired a better (or more experienced) campaign manager. Among other things, he expected a voter file from the party? Very amateur...

by Matt on Nov 9, 2011 8:20 pm • linkreport

Mike DeBonis writes a thoughtful column asserting that the reasons Fiona chose not to run cannot be generalized to the reasons others decide not to run. He's right. I overstated my case.

Mike goes too far, however, in attributing Evans' 20, soon to be 24, year incumbency to laudable campaign disciplines, thus legitimizing his campaign tactics. Evans doesn't "cold call strangers for money". Journalists should know how Jack Evans finances his campaigns.

Only 16% of his currently $233,000 war chest comes from constituents, and most of that is from Georgetowners. He has raised far less from constituents this time around than last time, reflecting his fraying connection to the 85% of constituents outside of Georgeown.

Jack finances his campaigns from corporate bundling, and from Georgetowners. He has received the same amount from a couple developers as from all non-Georgetown constituents ($11,925). That's why he ignores public schools in his ward - he doesn't need to address the concerns of public school parents because he doesn't need their money. He then hits the ward with a shock and awe PR blitz to get 3500 votes. He spent $120 per vote in 2008.

Jack Evans ran unopposed in 2004, virtually unopposed in 2000 and will run unopposed in 2012. That demands an explanation which I don't think Mike's otherwise insightful column provides. And I believe the explanation is that his overwhelming fundraising intimidates better potential opponents - and that overwhelming fundraising requires corporate bundling. If we got rid of bundling (as some Council ethics proposals would do) then 1 or both of 2 things would happen: (1) Jack would have to attend to the concerns of his rapidly changing constituency about schools, etc, and (2) good potential opponents would be more willing to take him on.

by Ken Archer on Nov 10, 2011 7:13 am • linkreport

oh ken, please let it go. this is getting painful to watch. you lost. let it go, bro.

by Fred Phelps on Nov 10, 2011 8:23 am • linkreport

And the attacks on Jack Evans continue, even as Ken and Fiona have already closed up shop. This is exactly the BS they are supposedly against. I don't see Ken or Fiona doing anything but complaining and writing blog posts.

Step in you guys - there is work to be done that takes more than cyber-complaining. Mentor a kid, volunteer at the PTA, something, anything.....

by Tearinmybeer on Nov 10, 2011 8:25 am • linkreport

Funny, going door to door and knocking on the door doesn't cost anything.

by charlie on Nov 10, 2011 9:01 am • linkreport

"Funny, going door to door and knocking on the door doesn't cost anything. "

Does it win elections in DC?

My wife is involved in Fairfax county politics. Which is far from all sweetness and light. But when we've talked about moving to DC, she has said that if we do, she will have nothing to do with DC politics. The reputation of DC politics as excessively nasty has reaches our side of the river. Y'all just might consider than toning things down a notch just might help you get better governance.

by VirginianSpouse on Nov 10, 2011 9:20 am • linkreport

"Funny, going door to door and knocking on the door doesn't cost anything. "

Does it win elections in DC?

I dunno. But I note that I have seen both Anthony Williams and Adrian Fenty on my stoop, asking for my vote. They both won those elections.

by goldfish on Nov 10, 2011 9:45 am • linkreport

Ken, I think it's important to note that a potential politician should have some sort of idea as to what it requires to win. Based on what you've written here and Fiona's premature bail out, it doesn't seem as if either of you have "enough" knowledge about how this stuff works.

One reason I say this is because of your focus on Jack's fundraising. To that I'll ask, can you name a politician who receives all or even most of their money from their own constituents. We don't have to look around the country (since we know they don't) but even here in DC. Are there any current politicians who've done what you're criticizing Jack for "not" doing.

The "tone" GGW prefers its users to have is not the sort of tone that wins elections. It's not the sort of tone that keeps you elected. Lacking the inclination to fight (and sometimes get dirty) will continue to be a losing proposition for anyone who follows that program.

Even though Josh Lopez had no chance in hell to win. He showed (sometimes ignorantly) that he was willing to fight - that there was a spine in his body. Fiona didn't give voters the opportunity to see that and I don't believe you are doing her (nor potential candidates) justice by painting her as an unfortunate victim of the "system." She's not a victim. She couldn't stomach what it takes to win an election, she wasn't prepared and she quit. IMO, that's the story. Not the the forces campaigned against her.

There is no utopia in politics.

by HogWash on Nov 10, 2011 10:07 am • linkreport

Thanks for your thoughts, Ken.

I am not clear on what you are suggesting. Yes, of course, Evans after 20 years in office doesn't have to "cold call" people for donations anymore. And yes, like most incumbents, he accepts "bundled" contributions (in the sense of donations from related companies). This is not against the law. Perhaps it should be against the law. There is current a policy debate on this issue and other campaign finance issues and I would encourage you to share your feelings with lawmakers.

But to blame corporate bundling as the real reason Jack Evans has been in office 20 years in office misses the point. Numerous candidates who have raised scads of money have lost when faced with a qualified and energetic challenger who presented a real alternative -- Jarvis 00, Brazil 04, Fenty 10 to name a few.

Their challengers (Fenty, K. Brown, Gray) each made their relative lack of money a campaign issue. A proven path to beating an incumbent in this town and anywhere is to paint them as out of touch by pointing to the outside money they raised. Politics 101! You and Fiona might have done the same. But you quit.

There is an Occam's razor answer to your question that you don't seem to want to acknowledge: Perhaps Evans hasn't gotten a strong challenge because Ward 2 voters think he's doing a good job. I'm not judging his performance one way or the other, but it's telling when many leaders with records of community activism -- i.e., potential council members -- are in the Evans fold.

by Mike DeBonis on Nov 10, 2011 1:24 pm • linkreport

Nice one Mike.

by beatbox on Nov 10, 2011 3:22 pm • linkreport

Just take away Jack's DC City Council vanity tag. The man cannot seem to find a legal parking space and always parks in front of the Stop sign in his neighborhood. Twenty years is enough.

by Beltway Greg on Nov 10, 2011 7:48 pm • linkreport

I've said it before and I'll say it again, having an election to choose a legislator is like having a jump-rump contest to choose a quarterback - and this is just more proof of that. Unfortunately, no one has pointed out a better way.

by David C on Nov 10, 2011 7:57 pm • linkreport

Also Joe and oboe kind of nail it. If we allow elections to be a race to the bottom, we'll only end up candidates who are willing to do anything to win.

And taking it a step farther...

When Phil Gramm ran for President I recall the press asking him "Why is your message not getting through? What do Americans want to hear?" to which he replied "I wish I knew so I could say it." No one really called him out for it - it sounded like he would SAY ANYTHING ["Abortions for some, tiny American flags for others"] to get elected - but I thought "and that's what we as voters have to deal with." If we only vote for people who are willing to do anything to be elected, we'll only end up with people who care about nothing but their own self-interest.

by David C on Nov 10, 2011 8:09 pm • linkreport

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