Opening Act: Pat Mara

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
April 24 2013 8:43 AM

Opening Act: Pat Mara

Two years ago I found myself in an unexpected place: The basement bar of D.C.'s Meridian Pint, next to RNC Chairman Reince Priebus. Patrick Mara, a young Republican businessman and activist, was making his second bid for an at-large city council seat. A win would have become some sort of national story, maybe, because no Republican had won an election in D.C. since 2004, when libertarian-leaning Carol Schwartz held a seat. But Mara won 11,851 votes and narrowly lost.

Last night was supposed to be different. Mara got in earlier, and the national Republican Party invested more -- Chris Christie robocalled D.C. Republicans for the guy. The seat had opened up because another member had resigned in a graft scandal; the Washington Post endorsed Mara in the hopes he'd scare the ossified Democrats who hold every D.C. office. Politico profiled Mara as one of a breed of "big city Republicans" trying to make the party competitive in the lands of metro stops and failing schools. Mara voters (myself included) headed to a bar across the street from that last party spot, and waited... until Mara (before absentees are counted) received only 11,367 votes, putting him solidly in third place.

What happened? The "reform" vote was split between three white candidates, largely between Mara and the second-place finisher Elissa Silverman. The city's rapidly gentrifying wards divvied up their vote beween three people who ran against the current council. That allowed Anita Bonds, a Democratic loyalist who got started in city politics under Marion Barry, to eke out a win with 1/3 of the overall vote, powered by landslides in the black wards. There will be, for now, no Republican renaissance in D.C.

Rand Paul keeps explaining his drone stance; the opposition to their use is very, very limited after all.

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Brian Beutler pays his respects to Max Baucus.

The House GOP isn't hurrying to introduce big legislation. It is, however, voting on a bill that would redefine and regulate the metals used in commemorative baseball coins.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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