Former Democratic Vice Mayor Andrew Macdonald asks members of the Alexandria City Republican Committee for support if he decides to run as an independent against three-term Democratic Mayor Bill Euille.
Photo by Michael Lee Pope.
Former Democratic Vice Mayor Andrew Macdonald says he is “seriously considering” an independent campaign for mayor, and he’s asking Republicans for support. Macdonald appeared before the Alexandria City Republican Committee Thursday night ask for their backing if he decides to throw his hat into the ring and challenge three-term incumbent Democratic Mayor Bill Euille. Macdonald said he would make a decision by the end of April.
“I think we need a change of leadership — a significant change,” Macdonald told Republicans, prompting a round of sustained applause.
The move represents a departure for Macdonald, who ran for City Council and won twice as a Democrat. Although he initially ran unsuccessfully as an independent candidate for City Council in 2000, Euille and Macdonald appeared together on the Democratic slate in 2003 and again in 2006. In the 2006 election, he received more votes than another other candidate, which vaulted him to the position of vice mayor.
Within months, however, he unexpectedly resigned for personal reasons. He wouldn’t say what those personal reason were, although court records show he was going through a divorce at the time. His unexpected departure prompted a special election that cost city taxpayers about $40,000. Democrats could make an issue of the unexpected resignation and cost to taxpayers, although that’s a strategy that could have its own shortcomings.
“I take him at his word that he needed to resign for personal reasons,” said former Councilman Tim Lovain, who managed Euille’s contested 2003 race for mayor. “I wouldn’t fault him for that. He was doing what he thought he needed to do.”
IF MACDONALD DECIDES to wage an independent campaign against Euille, the waterfront small-area plan is certain to dominate the debate. Euille has been one of the most vocal supporters in favor of increasing the allowable density along the waterfront, and Macdonald has led the charge against the proposal. At one point, Macdonald even asked Euille to recuse himself because he has a business relationship with former Chamber of Commerce Chairman “Mango" Mike Anderson.
Macdonald called on Euille to rescue himself from voting on the waterfront because he claimed that Anderson is an investor in Virtue Feed and Grain, a waterfront restaurant. Anderson says he does not have a business relationship with the restaurant, and Macdonald was unable to produce any evidence that Anderson has ties to Virtue.
“I’ve never owned any property on the waterfront,” Euille said at the outset of the waterfront plan public hearing. “And I’ve never had an investment in a restaurant on the waterfront — past or present.”
Nevertheless, many Alexandria voters remain outraged about increased density on the waterfront, and many have warned during public hearings that there will be a price to pay on Election Day. It remains to be seen whether or not opponents of the waterfront plan can marshal their support at the polls, although Republicans responded enthusiastically to Macdonald's appearance Thursday night.
"This City Council has got to go," said former Republican Vice Mayor Bill Cleveland. "I'm voting for anybody but Bill Euille."
ASIDE FROM THE waterfront, another issue that could be a problem for Macdonald is his tenuous relationship with the Alexandria Democratic Committee. The former vice mayor is still a member of the committee, and recently renewed his membership. And yet he chose to appear before Republicans to talk about his potential candidacy, asking them for their support. That rubbed many Democrats the wrong way.
“He needs to let the Democratic Committee know what his intension are,” said Dak Hardwick, chairman of the committee. “He can’t run as an independent and remain a Democrat.”