WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — Here’s a roundup of what some DC voters had to say as they cast their ballots in the primary Tuesday where turnout was light:
Dan Borque, 63, a retired health-care executive, cast his ballot Tuesday for Mitt Romney in the Spring Valley neighborhood, which has a high concentration of Republican voters by Washington standards.
“I just think he’s the best candidate among the four we were offered,” Borque said. “He’s got a variety of good experience as an executive and a leader.”
Borque, though, said he was troubled by the party’s reluctance to unite behind the likely nominee.
“The party needs to get its act together. Like the United States Congress, it’s very splintered,” Borque said. With Romney as the nominee, he said, “the conservatives on the far right are going to have to decide whether they want to participate in our democracy or not.”
David Leahy, a 53-year-old attorney, voted for Romney enthusiastically, saying he would keep taxes and regulation under control and allow American business to prosper.
“I think he’s great. He has the background, the smarts, the ability to go head to head with President Obama,” Leahy said.
Leahy said he looked forward to the party uniting behind Romney, but said he did not think the candidate was bruised by the primary process. He said the primaries were useful for determining whether candidates had any personal issues that would compromise their chances, but he doesn’t see such problems for Romney.
“He’s clearly going to be the nominee,” Leahy said. “Frankly, I think he will be better with the general electorate than the other Republican candidates.”
Jesse Kirkpatrick, 33, a doctoral student in political science at the University of Maryland who lives in northwest Washington, said he voted for Democrat Sekou Biddle for the at-large D.C. Council seat currently held by Vincent Orange. He said he was troubled by Orange’s links to prominent political donor Jeffrey Thompson, whose office and home were searched last month by federal authorities. Orange has acknowledged receiving suspicious money-order campaign contributions linked to Thompson.
“The platforms are largely indistinguishable,” Kirkpatrick said of the Democratic candidates for the at-large Council seat. “The tipping point is the prospect of corruption.”
Kirkpatrick said he hoped other incumbents on the Council would lose their seats.
“I hope (Marion) Barry gets out. It just blows my mind” that he’s still on the Council, Kirkpatrick said. “Maybe he represents his ward in a way that I don’t see.”
Ron Vitondo, a retired foreign service officer, cast his ballot for Orange because he said he respected the incumbent councilmember’s independent voice and the legislation Orange introduced to ban outside employment for councilmembers.
“Let them work for their $125,000” salary, Vitondo said. “I could live easily on that.”
Vitondo said voters in his predominantly white northwest Washington neighborhood tend to back the candidates endorsed by The Washington Post. The Post has endorsed Orange in the past but is backing Biddle this year. He said he was not troubled that Orange received donations from Thompson, noting that most current councilmembers have gotten money from him. Neither Orange nor Thompson has been accused of breaking any laws.
“He has reported everything he got,” Vitondo said. “It was not illegal.”
Peter Connolly, 60, was among those voting in the District of Columbia primary Tuesday in the Tenleytown neighborhood. He said he thought it was important to vote in local races in part because of the D.C. Council’s large budget and the influence each of the 13 members can have in shaping policy. The lawyer and registered Democrat said that though the District appeared to be doing “reasonably well,” the Council nonetheless needed to worry about the finances and avoid taking the city over a “fiscal cliff” while still meeting social services needed.
On Tuesday, he backed incumbent at-large Councilmember Michael Brown and challenger Sekou Biddle, who is trying to unseat at-large Councilmember Vincent Orange. He said he was impressed with Biddle’s background and that many of his neighbors supported him as well.
“I want intellectually serious because it’s an increasingly serious job,” said Connolly, who voted at an elementary school in the Tenleytown neighborhood of northwest Washington. “The old hack-ocracy is not up to it. I don’t want to criticize Orange too much but my sense is he’s sort of part of that.”
Connolly also cast a vote, largely symbolic in nature, for President Barack Obama even though the president has no Democratic rivals.
“In a tiny way, if he gets a decent number of votes, every little bit helps,” he said.
Daniel Ezrow, a 43-year-old management consultant who voted in northwest Washington, said he knows his vote for Obama won’t carry much practical significance but that it’s important to “show that there’s support out there and show that people are committed to winning in November.” That sign of support is especially important to counter Republicans feeling inspired by the skeptical reception Obama’s health care overhaul got during Supreme Court arguments last week.
“Just the feeling that people on the other side are energized and people who supported health care reform may be sitting on their hands. So I think that was one of the things that, indirectly, got me motivated,” Ezrow said.
“There’s very little you can do,” he added, “but this was one of the things I felt I could do.”
Locally, he said he backed Biddle for an at-large D.C. Council seat over incumbent rival Vincent Orange, saying Biddle’s emphasis in education particularly appealed to him since he has a young child.
David Avila, 37, a lawyer, was one of a handful of residents who voted in the Columbia Heights neighborhood. Avila said he is a Republican and votes regularly as a matter of civic duty — but he wasn’t excited about it this year.
“I voted for Romney, but I’m not happy about it. It was a reluctant vote,” he said. “I don’t like his negative advertising, and I’m not sure that he’s the most genuine individual candidate. But the alternative was Gingrich who I don’t consider viable at this point.”
There wasn’t a single issue that determined Avila’s vote, he said, but more generally his objections to Obama. Avila said Obama is more polarizing than the typical Democrat. In fact, even though he doesn’t vote for Democrats, Avila said he supported Hillary Clinton four years ago because he trusted her and figured a Democrat would win the 2008 election.
“Honestly, I see it in terms of liberty,” Avila said. “I don’t like the direction that the Obama policies are taking us, what I consider to be a more socialist direction economically and a more libertine direction socially.”
Avila said his priority is “just the notion of keeping government out of my life.”
Manny Cosme, 31, a Democrat who has lived in D.C. for the past three years and was voting for the first time in the city — at a municipal building on U Street in northwest Washington — said he too filled in the circle next to Obama’s name.
“I think he just needs four more years to be able to fulfill his ideas,” said Cosme, who said he supports Obama’s health care reforms and, as a gay man, supports Democrats’ stance on social issues.
Cosme, the chief financial officer at the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, said he voted for Peter Shapiro for the at-large council seat currently held by Vincent Orange, calling him “a breath of fresh air.”
Sharon E. Rogers, 43, a Democrat and full time doctoral student at American University, said she voted for Biddle for the D.C. Council seat currently held by incumbent Vincent Orange. She said she didn’t feel Orange was as committed to anti-corruption.
“We don’t need D.C. to go the way of Detroit,” she said.
WNEW and CBSDC.com will have live up-to-the-minute coverage of election returns as the polls close in DC, Maryland and Wisconsin on Tuesday.
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