Romney Will Dominate Washington DC Primary, Santorum Not Even a Factor

Primary days in the District of Columbia are a rare breed. Even rarer is the day when a DC primary actually matters in deciding elections. While DC is on most days the hub of national politics, the nation’s capital is decidedly low-key on primary voting day. Today is no exception, as the District again takes a back seat to observe the more significant races in Wisconsin and Maryland, two states that collectively offer GOP presidential hopefuls the opportunity to pick up almost four times as many delegates as the District’s measly offering of 19.

The results of the DC primary are likely to be little more exciting than the delegate math behind them, and with a probable Romney victory in the District of Columbia today, the frontrunner stands a chance not only of sweeping all three of the day’s contests but also of winning most of the 95 delegates up for grabs. Romney’s chief rival, Rick Santorum did not even attempt to qualify for the ballot in DC.

Nevertheless, turn out in the District itself appears to be high, a contrast to the scene in neighboring Maryland where candidates scurried from polling place to polling place this morning, confronting particularly low turnouts despite sunny, warm weather. Still, candidates there were confident in their get-out-the-vote operations and suggested that turnout for today's primary — in which Marylanders will settle a handful of highly competitive congressional races — especially in the 6th Congressional District — might be higher in the afternoon.

On a day where the national spotlight turns away from DC, most of the high-profile races in the District are for seats that carry with them no real significance beyond the ceremonial. While long-serving Democrat Eleanor Holmes Norton is again running unopposed for re-election as DC’s delegate to the House of Representatives, a position that comes with all of the privileges of a Congressional office with the exception of a vote on the House floor, a close and exciting race is emerging for Shadow Senator on the Democratic side between incumbent Michael D. Brown and surging rival Pete Ross.

The races that carry real significance for Washingtonians though, are local ones, where candidates are battling it out for city council seats in a series of tough races across most of the city’s wards. A particularly bitter race has emerged in Ward 8, where former mayor Marion Barry is facing hard-charging Democratic challengers in his campaign for a third consecutive council term. Races in other wards are less competitive, with incumbents Jack Evans of Ward 2 and Muriel Bowser of Ward 4 expected to win their Democratic primaries handily. Coveted At-Large seats on the City Council are up for grabs as well today, with Council member Vincent B. Orange pushing back against a mailer sent by his Democratic primary opponent, Sekou Biddle in a tough race for an At-Large seat. With the spotlight off DC politics for a rare moment, it’s time for the real heart of the District’s civic life — ward electioneering — to shine.

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Pierce Stanley

Previously a social media fellow at The New Republic, Pierce Stanley is a digital analyst at the Brookings Institution.

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