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Ward 2 Challenger Drops Out, Citing Intimidation

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Fiona Greig said she would run for D.C. Council Oct. 28, but less than two weeks later, she announced she was dropping out of the race.
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Fiona Greig said she would run for D.C. Council Oct. 28, but less than two weeks later, she announced she was dropping out of the race.

A challenger to D.C.’s longest-serving council member is dropping out of the race. Fiona Greig says she’s bowing out -- in part -- because she was the target of an alleged intimidation campaign by her opponent, Ward 2 Council Member Jack Evans.

Greig suffered an embarrassing gaffe last week when her fundraising notes -- including one that labeled a potential donor as a homosexual -- were inadvertently posted. She says the episode was instigated by a private investigator, and in a statement on her campaign website, she says there were nasty emails and muffled phone calls to her home saying her opponent had “dirt on her”

"I realize I wasn’t willing to through what was required to win the race and I realize that my opponent was going to use tactics that were very aggressive," says Greig.

Tom Lindenfeld, Evans' campaign manager, disputes Greig's allegations. He says the campaign never hired a private investigator or engaged in any aggressive tactics against Greig.

Greig also says current campaign finance rules stack the deck in favor of incumbents. She highlights the loophole that allows developers to bundle donations through limited liability companies: “I consider that extracting rents -- if businesses are allowed to contribute $500 each under as many names as they want, that does yield a strong advantage to incumbents.”

Others say Greig’s decision to drop out shows she may not have been ready. "The reality is that politics is a brass-knuckle contest," says local political consultant and commentator Chuck Thies. "It demonstrates a candidate that is more idealistic than ready for the rough and tumble world of politics. And if you are not ready for that, you should stay on the sidelines."

Another hurdle for challengers: the primary date has been moved up this year from September to April, giving aspiring council members even less time to knock on doors.

Greig herself disputes that she was too naïve for city politics.

“Everybody begins their political career green -- everybody does," says Greig. "I am not ashamed to have entered the race, and even that I am exiting. My exit makes a statement that I feel strongly about, which is that the nature of the discourse has changed, and we do need fresh voices."

With Greig's exit, Evans is running unopposed in next year's primary.

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