D.C. Council member Phil Mendelson (D-At Large) is stepping up his efforts to tell voters that one of his opponents, Michael D. Brown, is not the same person as Michael A. Brown, a member of the council.
Mendelson has embraced a strategy in which he will try to show voters that Michael A. Brown (I-At Large) is black, while Michael D. Brown is white.
At Saturday's Ward 8 Democratic Committee straw poll, where almost all of the voters were African American, Mendelson volunteers handed out fliers featuring pictures of both Browns.
"Voter Alert: Don't be confused," the flier states. "When you look at the ballot for at-large D.C. Council member, you will see the name Michael Brown. But that might not be the Michael Brown you are thinking of."
The flier shows a photo of Michael A. Brown with an arrow pointing toward his head that states: "This is Council member Michael A. Brown. He is NOT on the ballot."
Below that is a photograph of Michael D. Brown. The arrow pointing to his head states, "This is Michael D. Brown who is on the ballot this year."
"Of course, there is nothing wrong with having the name Michael Brown," the flier states. "Voters simply need to know which Michael Brown they are voting for."
Michael D. Brown, the candidate not the council member, is the District's shadow senator.
He has not been campaigning extensively in the at-large council race, but he's making the two leading contenders, Mendelson and Clark Ray, nervous heading into the Sept. 14 Democratic primary. Michael D. Brown nearly pulled off an upset two weeks ago at the Ward 4 Democratic straw poll. After the voting, many voters said they thought they were voting for council member Brown.
In an interview Sunday, Mendelson defended his approach of highlighting what the two Browns look like.
"I'm just trying to say that Michael Brown is not Michael Brown," Mendelson said. "The clearest way to show that one is not the other is to have a picture. ... A picture tells a thousand words in getting the message across."
Still, Mendelson said he remains concerned that some voters are not getting the message. Despite the fliers, Brown received 68 votes at Saturday's Ward 8 straw poll. Mendelson received 114 votes, while Ray was close behind with 95 votes.