courtesy of ‘erin m’
When the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics released the final candidate list, I noticed a familiar name. Michael Brown. Even as someone who follows District politics compulsively, at first I was confused why a sitting at-Large Councilmember would be turning in a ballot petition. I realized it must be a different Michael Brown, and quickly discovered this was Michael D. Brown, one of D.C.’s shadow senators. I figured it was no big deal, he wasn’t running a campaign and that since the other Michael Brown was already sworn in, it would not affect the Mendelson-Ray match-up. If straw polls are any indication, however, I was wrong.
Last night Michael D. Brown narrowly defeated incumbent Phil Mendelson in the Ward 5 straw poll. Brown tallied 370 votes to Mendelson’s 350. Clark Ray placed third with 159 votes. Brown also bested Ray at the Ward 4 straw poll, coming in a close second to Mendelson. After the Ward 4 vote, some participants indicated they were confused and thought they were voting for sitting at-Large Councilmember Michael A. Brown.
Michael D. Brown is running on a one idea platform: Statehood for D.C. A noble goal, of course, but that issue hasn’t exactly been at the top of the list of concerns at these straw polls. The natural question is whether these straw polls are indicative of what will happen on election day. If I were Phil Mendelson I would certainly be concerned. Straw polls are attended by the party faithful and other residents with a strong interest in politics. If these people are getting it wrong, it’s only natural to think the electorate as a whole may get it wrong as well.
Mendelson has produced some fliers noting the difference between the two Browns, which includes a photo. TBD has a nice run-down of the difference as well. Will that be enough to stop the madness?
The perplexing thing here is that there are so many Democrats voting against Phil Mendelson. If you combine the Clark Ray vote with the Michael Brown vote, Mendelson falls significantly behind. This could be good news for Clark Ray, except time is running out to sell these possibly undecided voters on his candidacy.
So back to the headline question, what happens if somehow, against all odds, Michael D. Brown wins? Well, I’d imagine Phil Mendelson might try to run either as an Independent or a write-in for the general election. If history is a lesson though, generally that doesn’t pan out. Carol Schwartz ran as a write-in in 2008 after losing the Republican nomination to Pat Mara. Neither candidate won enough votes to get a seat and instead Michael A. Brown was sworn in to Schwartz’s old seat.
Interestingly enough, since Michael A. Brown is not running this year, the Board of Elections Ethics did not require Michael D. Brown to use his middle initial on the ballot. This will likely only further the confusion among some voters.
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I don’t think Dems are voting against Mendo as much as they are simply voting for Michael A. Brown. If they knew they were casting votes for the wrong Brown, I’d enough would go with Mendo to give him an edge over Ray.
Regardless, that he printed up those flyers shows that he’s a little worried about what this will all mean on primary day. I’m surprised Ray — who has taken a big hit because of this — isn’t making a bigger deal of it.
Finally, let’s just guess Brown wins. I’d guess he’d be the most disliked member of the council, if only because all of his colleagues knew he got in under false pretenses. If he was out there raising money and campaigning, I’d be more willing to overlook the name thing. But he’s not. He knows as well as we do that he’s hoping enough voters make a mistake on election day and get him elected to office. That’s essentially fraud, in my opinion.
I agree. I hope that sanity prevails and perhaps he would do the right thing and drop out of the race. Maybe if Mendelson and Ray agree to talk more about Statehood or some such.
I’m surprised that many voters would prefer Michael A. Brown to Mendo. I’m not crazy about either of them, but at least Mendo works hard.
I can’t see Michael D. Brown riding this all the way to the election, at least, I hope he’ll see the light and decide not to go all the way with this one.
I have lived in DC for over 20 years vote in every citywide election and had heard very little about Phil Mendelson until this election. And the only reason is because he seems to be running scared because another qualified candidate is beating him at straw polls for a job that Phil believes is his birthright because he has held it for 12 years! What has he done for DC that makes him believe that someone new cannot match or do better? His campaign against his opponent, Michael Brown, is insulting to the electorate of DC which assumes they are somehow uninformed and perhaps not as smart as he is. For that reason alone I will not vote for Phil and encourage the rest of our unusually well informed DC voters do the same!
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Mendo is a tool. Good riddance.