Photo by Michael Lokner on Flickr.
Yesterday, Dave Stroup called on Sekou Biddle to resign and support Peter Shapiro as the at-large candidate. His theory is that if there are two people who claim to be progressives in the at-large democratic primary, they will split the vote and Vincent Orange will win.
Dave’s concern about splitting the vote may or may not be valid—though no polling has been done to back it up—but I understand his concern after last year’s special election. What I do not understand is his strong conviction that Sekou Biddle be the one to drop out of the race.
Dave argued yesterday that Biddle defer to Shapiro in the race due to his strong fundraising advantage. So let’s look at that advantage up close.
First, we need to be honest about the difference between fundraising versus cash-on-hand, because in this race these are two very different things. Sekou Biddle has raised more money from donors, $47,286 to be exact, than Peter Shapiro who has raised $38,215.
However, Stroup was concerned with the fact that Peter Shapiro has more cash on hand with $73,652.94. How is this possible? Peter Shapiro has loaned his campaign $50,000. So if we are really talking about a fundraising advantage and gathering support, it is clear that Sekou Biddle is the one who has it.
Sekou Biddle also has more support in the District of Columbia. Donors from the District means votes in the District. 83% of Biddle’s donors are from the District. Only 51% of Shapiro’s donors are. Biddle also significantly outpaces Shapiro in the raw number of people who have donated to his campaign, in the District and overall. More than twice the number of District residents, 196 compared to 71, have donated to Biddle. Sekou also simply has more donors, 237 over 138.
So what does this mean? It means that Sekou has broader support in the District of Columbia. Many of the individual contributions are small, but that is because regular, hard working DC residents, not moneyed interests, are supporting his campaign. It also means his name recognition is higher and that people like what they hear enough to give. Sekou has also successfully won a seat for the State Board of Education in Wards 3 and 4, wards known for being rich in progressive votes.
Shapiro may have a history of public service in Prince George’s County, and I applaud him for that. But in the District he has an almost complete lack of name recognition, financial support, record of service or record of voter participation to run on. That is not a situation that lends itself to a successful district-wide campaign in just under two months.
I am not asking Shapiro to drop out of the race and support Biddle. I am confident that our campaign organization and fundraising has us on the right track to win. But Stroup and others who think that we need to have only one progressive in this race might want to look at asking the candidate without grassroots support, name recognition, or a District record if he wouldn’t mind stopping his efforts to buy an at-large council seat with his checkbook.