Second person says he may challenge Jim Graham for D.C. Council seat

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Local,DC,Alan Blinder,D.C. Council,Jim Graham

D.C. Councilman Jim Graham easily dispatched two opponents during his last campaign for re-election, but with questions about Graham's conduct swirling anew, potential rivals are already lining up for a shot at the Ward 1 seat more than a year ahead of the Democratic primary.

Terry Lynch, executive director of the Downtown Cluster of Congregations, said Monday that he was considering a bid.

"I'm looking hard at it," said Lynch, who cited poor public facilities in Ward 1 as a factor in his interest, which was first reported by DCist.

If Lynch opts to start a campaign, he'd join former Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Brianne Nadeau, who announced last year that she would run.

Graham has not announced whether he intends to seek a fifth term.

"If I run, I'll run on my record of solid constituent services," Graham said in December.

Graham's political fortunes clouded considerably last week when the D.C. Board of Ethics and Government Accountability said it had "substantial evidence" that Graham violated the city's code of conduct. The panel voted not to move forward with a formal investigation, though, because of constitutional concerns about whether it could punish Graham.

The opinion stemmed from allegations that Graham offered to tie his vote on the city's $38 million lottery contract to a development deal.

Graham's legal team has hammered the ruling and said it is considering whether to challenge the decision, but D.C. lawmakers have been privately deliberating whether the council should take action of its own against Graham.

Several lawmakers have said privately that the council could reprimand or censure Graham.

Under the council's rules, a reprimand is "a formal statement of the council officially disapproving the conduct of one of its members." A reprimand doesn't result in any formal sanctions, and the council can approve it with a simple majority vote.

A censure is more serious and is "a punitive action" resulting from a finding that a lawmaker "took an action that amounts to a gross failure to meet the highest standards of personal and professional conduct."

Before issuing a censure, the council must stage its own investigation into the alleged misconduct. A censure also requires support from two-thirds of the council.

Only one lawmaker -- Ward 8's Marion Barry -- has ever been censured. He faced discipline in 2010, after officials found that he delivered a city contract to a girlfriend and used the earmark process to benefit himself and close friends.

Graham indicated Monday that he does not plan to apologize for his conduct to undercut the threat of council action.

"Apologize? There was no consequence to what I did," Graham said.

Examiner Staff Writer Eric Newcomer contributed to this report.

ablinder@washingtonexaminer.com

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