If Catania is that strong against an extremely wounded Gray, then he’ll be eating Bowser (a presumed primary winner) for lunch in the general—even as an independent. All it takes is years of Catania earning good will with black voters in some of the city’s poorest wards and the respect of a rising young electorate that’s watched his fanatically precision-guided crusade to fix D.C. public schools.
But, more importantly, D.C. houses the largest concentration of LGBT residents in the country at 10 percent, an entire 5 percentage points ahead of Hawaii in second at 5 percent, according to Gallup. The city’s massive LGBT population will come out strong for Catania, perhaps setting the stage for a rather public schism between the city’s influential white gay elite and its quickly deteriorating black political bloc. Catania is in a position from which he can easily cobble together a coalition of disenchanted black voters, disgusted white voters, underappreciated Latino voters and ambitious gay voters looking to make a mark.
The five black candidates in an overcrowded Democratic primary field are not only threatened by split votes. Nor is it so much the shadowy campaign financing that’s draping a dark cloud over the city’s tight-fisted black political machine. Demographics had been leaning in this direction for some time, this latest episode simply accelerating a forgone conclusion. Whiter newcomers want their bike lanes, dog parks and better schools sans the stigma of Marion Barry on a crack pipe. In 2014, I predict Chocolate City will melt into a history tour.
Charles D. Ellison is a veteran political strategist and frequent contributor to The Root. He is also Washington correspondent for the Philadelphia Tribune and chief political correspondent for Uptown magazine. Follow him on Twitter.