WASHINGTON — The campaign for mayor of Washington is emerging from its summer lull with the first debate between the major candidates.

D.C. Councilmember Muriel Bowser defeated incumbent mayor Vincent Gray in the April Democratic primary. The Democratic nominee usually coasts to victory in the District of Columbia, but the unusually long stretch between the primary and the November general election has opened up an opportunity for other credible candidates.

Two independents, Councilmember David Catania and former councilmember Carol Schwartz, will debate Bowser on Thursday night at American University. Both are former Republicans, but neither strays too far from the District’s liberal orthodoxy.

Since the primary, Bowser has sought to consolidate her Democratic base, while Catania has accused her of ducking him. Schwartz is running for mayor for a fifth time.

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