September 15, 2010 by staff
Adrian Fenty, DC Council member Kwame R. Brown (D-At-Large) won the Democratic primary race for the presidency on Tuesday, making him a virtual lock to become the city’s second highest elected official. He defeated former Councilman Vincent Orange.
Brown received 55 percent of the vote, while Orange was 39 percent, according to unofficial results released just after 1:30 am A third candidate, school board member Dorothy Douglas, received the remaining votes.
“We have been able to do something people thought could not do: run a positive campaign on issues and not negative,” Brown told his supporters in the Capitol Skyline Hotel. “That’s what this campaign’s all. This is how we will bring this city together.”
Brown is almost certain to succeed President Vicente C. Gray, because of the heavily Democratic electorate of the city. Grey Mayor Adrian Fenty won the Democratic primary for mayor on Tuesday.
Orange was not immediately available for comment.
Brown and orange crossed the city in search of votes Tuesday, before rallying with supporters as they awaited the final results. A Washington Post poll last month showed Brown leading Orange, particularly in communities of Northeast Orange District 5 represented by two terms on the council.
Brown, who at 39 became the youngest president in the history of DC, was first elected to Council in 2004 after running a relentless door-to-door campaign that helped the first council member living east of the Anacostia River to be elected citywide. This year, Brown said the support of all but one of the members of his council colleagues and accumulated a long list of endorsements of the most important city, labor, environmental and community organizations. If Brown becomes president, his seat is usually filled through a special election, probably in the spring.
Orange, which until recently was vice president of Pepco, questioned Brown’s ability to oversee the city and about 6 billion budget due to irregularities in the reports of Brown campaign financing and the problems encountered in the management personal debts. Brown, who has been sued by three credit card companies for payment of outstanding bills and prices of 55,000 and has said its financial problems would not affect his work on the council.
At the request of Orange, the city Office of Campaign Finance said last week it would investigate the fundraising records of Brown’s two previous elections. Brown acknowledged accounting errors in their presentations, but has denied wrongdoing.
Orange, meanwhile, faced the departure of two senior colleagues, including one of his chief fundraisers, who resigned in part because of what he said was the negative tone of the campaign for Orange.
Brown, the son of a veteran Democratic organizer base, raised more than four times as much money as Orange during the reporting period that ended Aug. 10. He stuck to his message of being an advocate for job creation and job training.
As chairman of the committee of the board of economic development, Brown has pushed developers to hire a local company for projects financed by taxpayers. He led the efforts to open only school district independent professional training, Phelps Architecture, Construction and Engineering High School.
The role of chairman of the board is a powerful and difficult. Brown became a leader among peers that forms the Council’s agenda, but can not succeed without the votes of at least six of his 12 colleagues. You will also have the difficult task of replacing a president seen by fellow board members as a collaborative leader who skillfully forged alliances and established differences between the disparate personalities.
Brown also would take over at a difficult time for the government fiscal DC: The city is facing a decline in funds for a rainy day, falling incomes and little room to borrow for new projects.
Although Brown picked up support from their colleagues, some privately questioned his ability to be a strong leader, expressing concern that he received a pass and voted “present” on the confirmation of Attorney General Peter Nickles. But Brown is much appreciated by fellow council members, and Gray’s solid lead in the primaries for mayor, Brown would have the advantage of working with an executive who also lives in District 7 and who has a strong relationship.
“We join the council. He lives around the corner. I think he would do a phenomenal job,” Brown said before the vote Tuesday in the Senior Center being just off Alabama Avenue SE with his wife and two children.
In the other contested council races, owners Jim Graham (D-District 1), Harry Thomas, Jr. (D-District 5) and Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) appeared to have fended off an energy field of challengers. Graham was leading a three-way race with Bryan Weaver, a leader of the community of Adams Morgan, and Jeff Smith, a former member of the DC School Board.
Thomas, who represents the neighborhoods of the northeast including Brookland and Trinidad, was ahead of Delano Hunter, a community organizer; Kenya McDuffie, a former government lawyer, and Tracey Turner, a consultant for information technology.
Wells, who represents the Capitol, had a wide lead over Kelvin J. Robinson, who was chief of staff for the administration of Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D).
Staff writers Annys Shin and Mike DeBonis contributed to this report.
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