Grosso’s victory could reshape the balance of power on the 13-member council, empowering newer residents who have been flexing their clout in District elections. Grosso, who made his opponent’s character a chief issue in the race, joins a council that has been trying to move beyond a turbulent year that saw two council members resign in disgrace.
Grosso declared victory shortly before midnight and in an interview, he praised the effort that brought him into office.
“I am really excited,” said Grosso, 42, a lawyer from Brookland. “The residents of the District of Columbia are ready to bring a new day to D.C. politics, and I am really proud of all the work that everyone put in to make this a reality.”
In an interview early Wednesday, Brown faulted himself for his loss to Grosso. “I don’t know if he defeated me as much as I defeated myself with my personal problems,” Brown said, adding that he was proud of his legislative record.
Grosso prevailed on a day that saw District residents swarm to the polls, causing some to wait in line for more than two hours before they cast a ballot.
For the second at-large seat, Vincent B. Orange (D) won his bid for reelection with 37 percent of the vote. But Orange’s winning margin fell short of past Democratic nominees for council, a sign his future political ambitions for higher office could be stalled.
In other races, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton easily won reelection to a 12th term as the city’s non-voting member of Congress. In contested ward council races, Marion Barry (D-Ward 8) sailed past an independent challenger in his bid for a third term on the council while incumbent Yvette Alexander (D-Ward 7) beat Republican Ronald Moten. Incumbents Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) and Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4) were running unopposed.
Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D), appointed to replace Kwame R. Brown who resigned before pleading guilty to federal bank fraud and a minor campaign violation, easily prevailed in a special election to retain the seat.
But Brown’s defeat highlights an electorate who showed up to the polls dissatisfied with incumbents after the turmoil of the last year in the D.C. government. Months before Brown stepped down, Harry Thomas Jr. resigned from his Ward 5 seat after pleading guilty earlier this year to stealing money meant for youth programs. Three associates of Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) also pleaded guilty this year in the ongoing investigation into his 2010 campaign.
The son of the late Commerce secretary Ronald H. Brown and once a rising star in District politics, Brown, 47, was never implicated in any criminal probes into the District government or politicians. But he was battered by a series of a news reports about his failure to pay his bills and taxes on time. Recently, his campaign was dealt a major setback when he reported that $113,000 was stolen from his campaign account.