It's interesting that David Catania is in the position non-incumbent independent and non-establishment parties are always in: first he had to petition to get on the ballot; his main opponent refused to debate him until he had ballot status; and she continues to not want to debate him, since, should he actually be able to raise an issue (beyond saying people able to buy a house in a good school district will absolutely be guaranteed access to that school, and the rest of the city can eat cake) it can only diminish the ease with which she can coast to victory in a one party town.
Of course being an incumbent he gets much more media attention and money than most independents usually do. As usual, he and Bowser will spend many times more dollars per vote for each of their votes than any of the other candidates. It's often a factor of 10-20 times as much per vote received. Without donations from developers, corporations, and unions on whom they confer benefits, establishment candidates would have a lot more trouble. It's interesting that so many of the debates are sponsored by organizations, like American University (and WAMU) that benefit hugely from what is done with zoning laws and the tax code by the DC government.
It will be interesting to see what they differ on, or what issues they can even articulate, should they ever start debating or even campaigning. And DC journalists seem to be happy to ignore the fact that neither are articulating any solutions to our problems - our failed schools, our thousands of young men marked with scarlet letters that make them unemployable by the drug war, etc. - and treat the campaign as a sports tournament. Just as DC journalists were largely oblivious to corruption in DC, just as all the people in the local Democratic Party and on the city council were willing to turn a blind eye, until private citizens like Tim Day or outside investigators like the FBI paid attention .