“Four more years! Four more years!” chanted his supporters. Bowser, who is seeking a third term, spent more than an hour at the Turkey Thicket Recreation Center offering handshakes, hugs and high-fives to his campaign volunteers and many others who had come to the popular center Ward 5 early voting.
If anyone doubts that election season is at its peak in the district, they need only stop at Turkey Thicket, where the sidewalk is lined with a veritable grove of campaign signs after campaign signs. Several of the Democratic candidates vying for the Ward 5 council seat set up adjacent tents and camped there, demanding votes for days; On Thursday, Bowser posed for photos with some of them, including Faith Gibson Hubbard and Gordon Fletcher, and walked past Vincent B. Orange’s table of gifts, including Orange-branded car air fresheners and sweets at orange.
Volunteers wearing shirts supporting Ryan Jones for Attorney General helped General Council candidate Lisa Gore and her supporters in their own branded shirts when Jones’ crew watched Gore’s crew struggle to set up their own tent collapsible to join the lines of field stations. “These are campaigns working together!” said Gore appreciatively.
The mayoral candidates — who, in addition to Bowser, are council members Robert C. White Jr. (At-Large) and Trayon White Sr. (Ward 8) and former ward advisory commissioner James Butler — have filled calendars in the home stretch of the Democratic primary, providing a last-minute boost to voters who have yet to vote.
The Reverend Graylan Hagler, Trayon White’s campaign chairman, said the candidate has spent part of this week campaigning in DC prison, where inmates are allowed to vote, and in nursing homes. . On Friday afternoon, White, who announced much of her campaign on Instagram, will lead a “walk to the polls” aimed at young people. The march begins at The Big Chair on Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE and ends at the Barry Farm Recreation Center, where White plans to vote, Hagler said.
On Sunday, Trayon White, in his capacity as a Ward 8 council member, will host his annual Father’s Day BBQ at Oxon Run Park, the same location where he officially launched his campaign last year.
Robert White, who plans to vote on Election Day, will spend part of his Thursday afternoon knocking on doors in the North East neighborhood of Woodridge, according to his deputy campaign manager Zoe Ades – including a stop at Jamerica restaurant and bar.
He hopes to spend the weekend campaigning in various neighborhoods, including Van Ness, Columbia Heights and Capitol Hill, and plans to attend events celebrating June 19 and Father’s Day, Ades said.
Almost every Democratic candidate from other races plans to knock on doors or canvass polls over the weekend, and some have proposed events to make their final appeal to voters: Gibson Hubbard plans to hold a kettlebell workout on Monday morning, calling his event “Exercise Your Right to Vote.” On Friday, Attorney General candidate Bruce V. Spiva invited his supporters to a “pre-June” get-together downtown.
This year’s primary is the first in which the DC Board of Elections has mailed a ballot to every registered voter, leaving candidates uncertain whether voters will behave differently this year than in years past. By late Wednesday, the Board of Elections had counted more than 12,000 ballots at the ballot box, more than 23,000 returned by post and 5,248 votes cast at early voting locations.
The total is well under half of the nearly 90,000 votes in the last mayoral primary four years ago – meaning candidates know they have plenty of voters left to reach in the home stretch , even though the ballots have been in the hands of voters for nearly a month.
Bowser said she hopes for higher overall turnout because automatically mailed ballots have made it easier for voters to participate. “Get out the vote, for us, since people voted,” she said. “What we don’t know is if more people will vote, which we hope, or if people will just vote differently.”
Some candidates have urged their supporters to vote now, rather than risk long lines at in-person polling stations on Election Day. Others are looking forward to the last day of the campaign.
“My feeling is that people are going to come out because people love Election Day,” said Brian Schwalb, a candidate for attorney general who plans to spend the weekend knocking on doors. “Something about the pump and the circumstances.”