WASHINGTON (AP) — Mayor Muriel Bowser was set for a third term Tuesday following a campaign targeting her leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic and her history as one of the faces of Washington’s ongoing quest for statehood.
In June, Bowser, 50, defeated a pair of challengers from the District of Columbia Council in the Democratic primary, a race largely considered the de facto mayoral race in the predominantly Democratic district.
In the general election, Bowser faced a trio of challengers — all considered marginal: Republican Stacia Hall, Statehood Green Party nominee Corren Brown, and independent candidate Rodney “Red” Grant.
Bowser has largely presided over a period of prosperity, but has continued to face accusations of being too close to developers and business interests as an unchecked wave of gentrification touting old black residents.
Grant, a longtime actor and comedian, addressed that perception, saying in a campaign video that Bowser “has focused on developing buildings in our city, but forgot to develop our youth and a truly comprehensive plan to reduce crime. “
Public safety and crime dominated the primary campaign. The homicide rate has climbed four years in a row and the 2021 homicide rate of 227 was the highest since 2003. Both primary challengers, DC Council members Robert White and Trayon White, criticized her response to rising violent crime rates.
But despite her public safety vulnerability and growing public concern about crime, Bowser emerged from the Democratic primary with a double-digit victory.
Bowser gained national attention in the summer of 2020. Following mass protests against the murder of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis, she publicly argued with then-President Donald Trump after protesters against racial justice were forcibly removed from an area near the White House.
Bowser responded by renaming the protest epicenter Black Lives Matter Plaza and having a mural painted with “Black Lives Matter” painted on a stretch of 16th Street, one block from the White House, in giant yellow letters. The move was publicly denounced as “performative” by the local Black Lives Matter affiliate, a longtime Bowser critic.
Under pressure from activists calling for police punishment, Bowser largely stood behind her police station, waging public battles with the DC council over the police budget. She quietly replaced an older white police chief with a younger black successor and has pushed for funding to build the Metropolitan Police Department’s staff, currently 3,500, to 4,000 officers over the next decade.
A win would make Bowser the second DC mayor to win three consecutive terms, as would Marion Barry, who served as the city’s uninterrupted president from 1979 to 1991.
Learn more about the issues and factors that come into play during the midterms at https://apnews.com/hub/explaining-the-elections. And follow AP coverage of the 2022 election at https://apnews.com/hub/2022-midterm-elections.
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