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DC Primaries 2024: Voters head to the polls to decide competitive races

Election Day voting has begun in the D.C. primary, where a series of incumbent council members are hoping to fend off challengers and keep their seats. In Ward 7, voters will have to make their choice from a crowded field to determine the likely successor to outgoing Councilman Vincent C. Gray (D).

This year’s election also features competitive council races in Wards 4 and 8. In Ward 2, Councilwoman Brooke Pinto (D) is unopposed. Robert C. White Jr.’s general counsel seat. (D) is also on the Democratic primary ballot; the other at-large seat in this year’s cycle, which will be held by incumbent Christina Henderson (I-At Large) and reserved for someone from the non-majority party, will be determined in November.

Voters also will select nominees Tuesday for the non-voting House delegate seat of Eleanor Holmes Norton (D), as well as candidates for D.C.’s “shadow” senator and representative — non-voting congressional positions typically tasked with representing the state of district to promote.

The polling stations are open until 8 p.m

Ward 7 has been the focus of the most compelling race of this year’s election cycle as 10 candidates compete to succeed Gray, who is not running for re-election due to health concerns.

Crime, education, the district’s economy and the future of the RFK Stadium complex were major issues in this race. Adding to the intrigue, Ward 7 added thousands of residents after a redistricting process that extended its border further west across the Anacostia River. In recent days, some candidates in the field have tried to stand out from the crowd through strategic advertising and last-minute announcements of endorsements, including from sitting council members.

In Ward 8, Councilman Trayon White Sr. (D) Challenged by two community leaders: former Ballou High School Principal Rahman Branch and Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Salim Adofo.

White has a strong foundation and a long track record of service and activism in the district, making it clear to voters that he is the only candidate with the experience to stand up for D.C.’s most disadvantaged neighborhood. But White’s opponents have questioned his record as a lawmaker. And they say it’s time for a new approach to solving the neighborhood’s persistent problems, such as reducing violence and poverty, while improving economic outcomes for residents.

Ward 4 Councilmember Janeese Lewis George (D) is up for re-election for the first time since joining the council in 2020. The self-described Democratic socialist is being challenged by Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Lisa Gore and Paul Johnson, a municipal investment banker.

Johnson and Gore have tried to portray Lewis George as too liberal on public safety issues; George, in turn, recalled it voters that she is the only candidate in the race who has worked as a prosecutor. She has defended her voting record and accused her opponents of mischaracterizing her record on the city’s police budget.

Election day in Ward 4 got off to a slow start at Powell Elementary in Columbia Heights. Voters walked through the door every few minutes, many casting ballots before heading to work.

In the general Democratic primary, Robert C. White Jr. (D) faces a challenge from Rodney “Red” Grant – an entertainer who, along with White, ran unsuccessfully for DC mayor two years ago. White hopes to keep his seat and convince voters of his leadership on the council’s housing committee and other bills. Grant, who heads a number of programs aimed at helping urban youth, has argued that he is more aware of young people than White and has pledged to build on that work if elected.

At the federal level, voters will also select candidates for DC’s non-voting positions in Congress on Tuesday. Norton is running for re-election for the seventeenth time. Kelly Mikel Williams, who has worked in local and federal government and previously ran against Norton, is challenging her again. The voting will conclude with competitive contests for the city’s “shadow” senator, with candidate Ankit Jain running against Eugene D. Kinlow and a shadow representative, while incumbent Oye Owolewa is challenged by Linda L. Gray.

This story is developing and will be updated.