Michael D. Brown will try again for at-large D.C. Council seat


Michael D. Brown is not afraid he’ll be confused with the admitted felon. (Mike DeBonis/The Washington Post)

There may yet be a Michael Brown on the D.C. Council.

Two weeks after former at-large member Michael A. Brown was sentenced to a three-year prison term for bribery, his political namesake — Shadow Sen. Michael D. Brown — said he will mount an independent run for an at-large seat.

The non-felonious Brown said Friday, while registering his candidacy at the D.C. Board of Election, that he was “tired of being ignored” in his post as an elected but unpaid advocate for D.C. statehood. Besides picking up ballot petitions, Brown changed his voter registration from Democratic to independent, making him eligible for the non-Democratic set-aside seat being vacated by David A. Catania (I).

“I’ve been a Democrat since I was 18 years old, so this is tough, this is a tough thing to do,” Brown said. “But I’m tired of these guys pursuing budget autonomy even though everybody in the world says it’s not going to happen. I’m tired of schools that laud 5 percent increases in math and reading scores for elementary school students when 11 students a day drop out of high school. … We need some people in there that care about getting things done.”

Brown last ran for a council seat in 2010, running as a Democrat against longtime incumbent Phil Mendelson. That run put a scare into Mendelson, who was afraid voters would confuse Sen. Brown with council member Brown, leading him to spend tens of thousands of dollars to make clear that the two Michael Browns were not the same.

Four years later, the “Michael Brown” name has gone from asset to liability, but Michael D. Brown said Mendelson’s campaign to differentiate the two now works in his favor.

“I think people understand that there are two of us,” he said, noting the results of the 2012 general election: “He got 50,000 votes [for council member]. I got 207,000 votes [for shadow senator]. … You either have to believe that they understand that there are two of us, or you have to say that people said, ‘Well, you know, I don’t like this Michael Brown for council, but I like him for senator.’ And I don’t think that was the case.”

Also picking up petitions Friday was Paul Zukerberg, the criminal defense attorney who has (thus far) successfully sued the attorney general race back onto the 2014 ballot and is now running for the office. As of 2 p.m., no other AG candidates had materialized at the Board of Elections.

And Carol Schwartz, who launched a surprise mayoral run this week, picked up her petitions as well, arriving at the One Judiciary Square office building in her Jaguar festooned with an old “Carol” campaign sign.

“I wanted to look a little more mayoral,” she said, explaining her choice of vehicle over her other ride, a yellow Pontiac Firebird convertible.

Schwartz, a longtime Republican, also explained why she gave up a chance to appear on the GOP ballot line, which could have saved her from having to collect 3,000 voter signatures for ballot access: The party, she said, has become “too conservative” for her.

“The party left me, I didn’t leave it,” she said, adding: “When Eric Cantor is considered too liberal for the party, that’s a statement in and of itself. You can imagine what they thought of me.”

Mike DeBonis covers local politics and government for The Washington Post. He also writes a blog and a political analysis column that runs on Fridays.
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