The Invisible Candidate

Quick: Who’s D.C.’s Republican nominee for mayor?

According to the Nov. 7 Washington Post, voters are being driven to the polls this year by anger. Me, I voted out of simple curiosity. I wanted to find out who the Republicans were running for mayor.

Everyone in Washington, D.C., is obsessed with the midterm elections, which are taking place as I write this. The typical man on the street can rattle off polls showing Democrat Harold Ford slipping in his race against Republican Bob Corker for Senate in Tennessee; the opportunistically independent Joe Lieberman leading by a wide margin against Democrat Ned Lamont in Connecticut’s Senate race; and Democrat Martin O’Malley in a dead heat with Republican Bob Ehrlich in Maryland’s gubernatorial race. But ask that same man on the street to name the two major-party candidates running for mayor in the city where he happens to live, and you’re guaranteed to get a blank stare. Or rather, half a blank stare. He’ll know that the Democrat, and the presumptive winner, is Adrian Fenty. But the Republican?


Now, you’re going to ask me whether I’ve actually stood on a street corner and buttonholed passers-by. No, I haven’t. (It’s raining today.) But I did canvass Slate’s Washington office. David Plotz, Slate’s deputy editor, has lived in the District all his life. He didn’t know. Jack Shafer, Slate’s press critic, was for 10 years editor of the Washington, D.C., City Paper, a savvy alternative newspaper that covers local politics very aggressively. He didn’t know, either. John Dickerson, Slate’s chief political correspondent, spent half his childhood greeting Washington’s power elite at his parents’ door. “Dave Krulwitch? Krantwitch?” Dickerson e-mailed me from Slate’s superhardened underground command bunker for Campaign ‘06. That’s as close as anyone got. The Republican nominee for mayor of Washington, D.C., I discovered when I cast my ballot, is one David W. Kranich.


I don’t mean any disrespect to the presumptive mayor-elect. I myself voted for Adrian Fenty—quite enthusiastically, in fact, having previously been his highly appreciative constituent when Fenty served on D.C.’s city council. I’m well aware that in D.C.—a majority-black city and home to many civil servants—three-quarters of all registered voters are Democratic. A Republican’s chances of getting elected mayor here approximate the chances that a mound of crystallized precipitation will retain its spherical shape when placed inside a brimstone-rich environment. Still, the man is the closest thing Fenty has to an opponent. Yet, since the start of the general-election campaign on Sept. 13, Kranich’s name has appeared in the Washington Post’s “A” section precisely once, in a Sept. 16 editorial summarizing the primary results three days after the news section had already done so. (Twice if you count the appearance of Kranich’s name in a chart reporting the primary’s final vote tallies on Sept. 14.) During that same time period, stories in all other sections of the Post that mentioned Kranich numbered 10. During the general-election campaign, no Post editorial or op-ed column ventured an opinion, favorable or unfavorable, about Kranich or his candidacy. The only expressed opinion you’ll find from this period on the Post’s Web site is from a live chat conducted by Post metro columnist Marc Fisher:


There is a GOP mayoral candidate, David Kranich. I believe he is a realtor in town. [Correct.] Nice guy. Doesn’t seem to know much about the city. If he gets more than six percent of the vote, I will buy you lunch.

From 10 of the 11 Post stories mentioning Kranich we learn the following:

  • Kranich is the GOP nominee for mayor.
  • “Kranich, 34 … said he sees this election as a chance for the Republicans to prove that they can be competitive … .”
  • “Improving public schools is a top issue for the entire [GOP] slate with Kranich and [City Council candidate Marcus] Skelton advocating a mayoral takeover.” (Big deal. Fenty leans that way, too.)
  • Kranich filed his October campaign finance report late.
  • Kranich’s Aug. 10 finance report revealed a campaign war chest of $7,676.84 (Fenty raised nearly $3 million).
  • Kranich showed up at a Fenty press conference after the primary to remind people to vote in the general election.


An 11thPost story (“Dave Kranich Fighting the Fenty Juggernaut“) was the only one that contained more than a paragraph about the guy. It was, in fact, a full-fledged profile, and it ran in the Metro section—not Page 1 of the Metro section, mind you, but Page 6. Even if you, dear reader, consume the Washington Post every day of your life, I’m going to guess that you missed it, too. The story contains these additional facts about Kranich:


  • He majored in business at Pennsylvania State University, where he was nicknamed “Daiquiri Dave.”
  • He has never previously run for public office.
  • He wants to fix the public schools, lower taxes, improve neighborhoods, fix potholes more rapidly, and increase the number of bike paths.
  • He’s raised $12,000 for his campaign.
  • His name is pronounced Kra-nik, not Kra-nitch, which is how Kranich was introduced recently at a GOP event.
  • Carol Schwartz, a city council Republican who ran for D.C. mayor (unsuccessfully, but more conspicuously than Kranich) four times, has said she won’t vote for Kranich.
  • Kranich once sold a Christmas tree to Donna Shalala.
  • He once ran a business selling bottled smoothies called “Kranich’s Fruitful Daze.”


I should also note that posted a basic-info “election profile” of Kranich that not even Kranich seems to have read. I draw this conclusion because the profile includes a statement from Kranich about education that begins, “Education gives people power &mdash … .” At the bottom of the page, readers are invited to submit a correction request. Nobody appears to have done so.

Lest you think the Post has been unusually neglectful of Kranich, the Washington Times, the Post’s more conservative competitor, has mentioned Kranich only once, according to its search engine. That’s one more mention than Kranich ever received in the Washington City Paper, according to its online archive. The WashingtonExaminer, a shopper distributed to D.C.’s pricier neighborhoods, mentioned Kranich in eight articles, one of them a feature much like the Post’s (“No Giving Up for GOP’s Kranich“) that ran two days earlier. From this profile we learn that Kranich opposes both abortion and the death penalty.

You have now reviewed the entire public record on candidate David W. Kranich. There’s his Web site, of course, but that will probably come down in a matter of hours. David, we hardly knew ye.