District of Columbia Republican Party
The District of Columbia Republican Party (DC GOP) is the DC affiliate of the United States Republican Party. It was founded on June 19, 1855 and is made up of registered Republican voters living in the District of Columbia elected to serve as the governing body of the Party. The party chairman is Jose Cunningham and the party is housed in the District of Columbia alongside the Republican Party national headquarters.
The party faces steep difficulties in getting its candidates elected, as Democrats hugely outnumber Republicans in the District of Columbia. No Republican has ever been elected mayor since D.C. home rule began in 1975. The DC Republicans have had no representation in the D.C. Council since Carol Schwartz left office in 2009.
Leadership and organization
The District of Columbia Republican Party is chaired by José Cunnningham. The DC Republican National Committeeman is Robert J. Kabel and the DC Republican National Committeewoman is . The party is currently conducting a search for a new executive director.
Members of the DC GOP elect its chairman every two years. The Republican National Committeeman and Committeewoman are elected at the same time as the DC Republican presidential primary every four years, which is open to all Republican voters. The chairman appoints executive committee members with the approval of the DC GOP. Election to the DC GOP requires nomination by an existing DC GOP member and confirmation by the DC GOP Membership Recruitment Committee.
According to the District of Columbia Home Rule Act (D.C. Code 1-221(d)(2)), “at no time shall there be more than three members (including the Chairman) serving at large on the Council who are affiliated with the same political party.” This gives the DC Republicans their largest opportunity, and their main efforts are usually directed at this race. Rather than defeat the Democrats, a Republican candidate for an at-large seat need only defeat any independents, Libertarians, and DC Statehood Green Party candidates in the race.
The most successful and high-profile Republican in elected office of recent years is former councilwoman Carol Schwartz (at-large). First elected in 1984, she served one term before deciding not to seek re-election in 1988. Voters returned her to the at-large seat in 1996. She was re-elected in 2000 and 2004, but lost the Republican primary election in 2008. Schwartz ran for mayor of the District of Columbia as a Republican four times (1986, 1994, 1998 and 2002), all unsuccessfully.
In 2008, Patrick Mara defeated Schwartz for the Republican nomination. Mara was backed by an endorsement from The Washington Post and anger from the business community at Schwartz’s support of a mandatory sick-leave bill. Schwartz continued to run as a write-in candidate, and both received approximately 10% of the vote. This was not enough to stop Democrat-turned-independent Michael A. Brown from collecting the largest vote share of the non-Democrats up for election, leaving the Council with no Republican members since 2009.
Allegations raised by Tim Day, former Ward 5 DC Council candidate, and , former executive director, helped initiate an investigation into Councilmember Harry Thomas, who defeated Day in a 2010 race. Thomas resigned in January 2012. Thomas agreed to 2 federal felony charges and was sentenced to 38 months in prison.
In 2018, Chairman Cunningham asked the United States House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, chaired by Trey Gowdy, to investigate the district for its violation of the District of Columbia Home Rule Act, which reserves two seats on the DC Council for the minority party. As of June 2018, all sitting members are Democrats, with the exception of one left-leaning independent.
- Sommer, Will (November 19, 2015). “Of Mice and Maras: College Sophomore Frays D.C. GOP’s Nerves”. Washington City Paper.
- “Voter Registration Statistics” District of Columbia Board of Elections. April 2018.
- “Title IV – The District Charter: Part A – The Council: Subpart 1 – Creation of the Council: Creation and Membership”.
- Nakamura, David A. Board of Trade Endorses Mara Over Schwartz Archived 2008-10-12 at the Wayback Machine. The Washington Post. 2008-07-21. Retrieved 2008-07-29.
- Primary Pits Schwartz In a GOP Showdown. The Washington Post.
- DeBonis, Mike (2012-01-06). “D.C. Council member Harry Thomas Jr. resigns after being charged with embezzlement”. The Washington Post.
- Craig, Tim; DeBonis, Mike (2012-05-04). “D.C. Politics”. The Washington Post.