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D.C. Attorney General Hopeful Takes Second Stab at Primary-Ballot Election

A Democratic candidate running to become the District’s first elected attorney general has appealed a D.C. judge’s ruling that kept the race off the April 1 ballot.

Lawyer and former D.C. Council candidate Paul Zukerberg claims that Superior Court Judge Laura A. Cordero’s Feb. 7 decision limits the voting rights of D.C. residents.

“Over 76% of D.C. voters approved the ballot referendum in favor of an elected attorney general,” Zukerberg said in a release, referring to a 2010 charter amendment to make the city’s chief law enforcement officer an elected, rather than appointed, position after 2014.

“Because the trial court’s ruling limits the right of D.C. citizens to vote, the legally responsible thing to do is to see that our highest court decides this issue,” he continued. He filed the appeal to the D.C. Court of Appeals on Wednesday.

Zukerberg is challenging a D.C. Council decision to postpone the city’s first attorney general election until 2018.

Cordero ruled that 2018 is literally “after” 2014, but Zukerberg’s attorney rejects that interpretation. Language requiring the AG’s term “shall coincide with the term of office of the Mayor” meaning that D.C. voters should cast a vote for the office as they choose the District’s next mayor, attorney Gary Thompson argues.

The D.C. Board of Elections is currently in the process of printing ballots for the April 1 primary, according to court filings, and will, by pre-existing rule, ship them to overseas voters on Friday.

D.C. voters could still see the office of attorney general on the November 2014 ballot. A proposal by Councilmember Mary Cheh working its way through the council would establish the election, without a primary.

D.C. Attorney General Irvin B. Nathan has voiced his opposition to Cheh’s bill, claiming it violates the charter amendment’s mandate that the attorney general be elected on a “partisan basis.”

Nathan and Council Chairman Phil Mendelson had a loud and heated exchange about the proposal during a Monday hearing.

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