Election 2018 Roundup: Thoughts on D.C. Politics

Political analyst and longtime D.C. journalist Tom Sherwood offered Federal City Council (FC2) Trustees a piquant and insightful analysis of the 2018 election results, and what they foretell about the future of the District and its elected officials.

Sherwood, an analyst with WAMU’s Politics Hour, predicted that Mayor Muriel Bowser might come to regret her active support of Ward 8 restaurant owner Dionne Reeder in her bid against incumbent At-Large Councilmember Elissa Silverman, who handily beat Reeder in the general election.

“I think the Council is emboldened now,” said Sherwood, especially because Reeder was viewed as the choice of both the Mayor and the business community. “Many people, including me, thought it was foolish for the Mayor to get into the at-large race. She jumped in and supported Dionne Reeder, and it just did not work.”

Part of the challenge for the business community today is that many D.C. residents connect the business leaders to gentrification, Sherwood said, and no amount of money or support for individual council members will easily reverse that perception. The business community’s influence in D.C. elections will only grow if business leaders choose to influence voters by tapping into their emotions.

“Elections are emotions,” said Sherwood. “Elections are not just graphs and charts and data like people associate with policy issues. Elections are more about emotion than they are about details. Details count but that’s a secondary thing.”

Sherwood said one of the hidden stories out of the election is the rise of Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton in the U.S. House committee structure. With the Democrats taking control of the House in January 2019, Norton will become chair of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee’s Subcommittee on Highways and Transit.

“The real news is that Eleanor Holmes Norton is going to have power, and she will control money that can go to Metro,” said Sherwood. “That’s a big issue.”

Sherwood predicted that despite the Mayor’s revitalized interest in statehood, he thought it was unlikely that the notion would see much movement in Congress in the near or distant future. “People do not understand that the District of Columbia is a place where ordinary Americans live,” he said.