Former D.C. Council member Vincent Orange, who recently lost his bid for chairman, has been telling local Democratic leaders he has secured nearly all the votes he needs from the D.C. Democratic State Committee to win appointment to the soon-to-be vacant council at-large seat.
Several sources say Orange, who was not immediately available to comment, has been boasting he already has as many as 40 votes on the committee, just a few shy of the support he needs to fill the seat after the state committee votes Jan. 7.
David Meadows, executive director of the D.C. Democratic State Committee, said he cannot either confirm or deny whether Orange's vote counting is correct. But Meadows said the local party has established a special committee that will meet Saturday to determine how the special election will move forward.
With Council member Kwame Brown (D-At Large) likely to move into the chairman's seat after the Nov. 2 general election, the state committee will be tasked with appointing his replacement until a special election can be held this spring.
Meadows said there are currently 80 members on the committee, with two vacancies. By the time the committee votes in early January, however, Meadows said he expects the committee will have a full slate of 82 members.
Orange and Jacque Patterson, chairman of the Ward 8 Democratic Committee, are so far the only two potential candidates to formally notify the state committee they are interested in the seat, Meadows said.
Patterson strongly disputes suggestions that Orange has nearly locked down a majority of the state committee.
"I don't buy it," Patterson said. "I think everybody is nice on the state committee, and they will tell you things, but I just don't think 40 people have dedicated themselves to Vincent Orange. "
Patterson has invited state committee members to Buddha Bar for a happy hour (which will feature an open bar) Friday to begin discussing his potential candidacy.
In an interview with D.C. Wire, Patterson indicated he will be aggressive in fighting for the seat.
"To get the nomination, you are going to have to bring something new to the table, and Orange doesn't bring anything new," Patterson said.
Patterson questioned whether Orange would be able to prevent a Republican or Independent from winning the seat in what is likely to be a free-for-all in the special election.
"I don't think the state committee wants to go down that road and lose," said Patterson, noting that council member David A. Catania (I-At Large) was elected to the council as a Republican in 1997 in a special election. " He is someone who quite frankly ran a divisive race [for chairman this year] and would risk us losing that seat."