Mayor Muriel Bowser cruised to reelection in the nation's capital four years ago without serious opposition. And as the city enjoyed prosperous times, the main criticism of her policies was that Washington was growing too quickly, driving up housing costs and pricing out Black residents in a gentrification wave.
One tumultuous term later, and with homicide and violent crime rates rising, Bowser finds herself in a reelection fight. She's trying to fend off two challengers from the District of Columbia Council who accuse her of mishandling public safety issues and criticize her push to hire more police officers. The campaign reflects a wider dynamic playing out in longtime Democratic strongholds, with progressives facing off against party traditionalists over crime.
“Call it sky blue vs. Tar Heel blue,” said Michael Fauntroy, an associate professor of policy and government at George Mason University. “People have an anxiousness around crime. There’s no question about that.”
“I don’t think the police are the end-all solution for reducing crime,” Councilman Trayon White said during a June 1 debate. “During the height of the crack epidemic, D.C. had 5,000-plus police officers, and it never decreased any crime.”