This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Laura Porter
A fifth Council member launched his mayoral campaign Wednesday, becoming the only major independent candidate in the race.
At-Large Council member David Catania will face the winner of next month’s Democratic primary in the city’s November general election – adding a curve to a race that would otherwise have been all-but-decided on April 1.
Catania’s announcement comes days after federal prosecutors said Mayor Vincent Gray was involved in the more than $660,000 illegal campaign fund that helped prop up his 2010 mayoral bid.
Catania won his first Council bid in 1997 and has been reelected four times. He currently serves as the chairman of the committee on education.
Catania, who is gay, was a leader in bringing marriage equality to the District. He left the Republican party to become an independent in 2004 after President George W. Bush pushed a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.
Mark Plotkin, an alumnus and contributor to BBC News, said Catania’s announcement was “opportunistic” and “overly optimistic” as a white independent candidate in a city that has only ever elected black Democratic mayors.
“I don’t think African Americans will leave [Gray] in a general election for someone who is not a Democrat and has a temperament and personality that is unsuited to be mayor,” Plotkin said.
In Catania’s first campaign video, titled “A Man of His Word” he did not mention Gray by name but stressed his ability to “play by the rules.”
Colleen Murphy contributed reporting