By Yolanda Woodlee
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, September 8, 2006
Michael A. Brown withdrew from the mayor's race yesterday and announced that he will support D.C. Council Chairman Linda W. Cropp because he doesn't want the front-runner to "steal this race."
Standing outside his New York Avenue NW campaign office to more than 60 supporters, Brown did not mention mayoral candidate Adrian M. Fenty by name. But Brown's criticism was clearly directed at Fenty, who is leading in the polls less than a week before Tuesday's Democratic primary.
"I cannot watch a political novice, a man without the courage and strength required to run the city, attempt to steal this race from someone who has seen the city through its worse times," Brown said. "We cannot afford a mayor who merely knocks on doors and asks for support. We need a mayor who can open doors to support people."
Brown, a lobbyist whose campaign has struggled financially, said that Cropp is a longtime family friend he trusts to ensure that the residents who are "the least, last and lost in this city are not forgotten."
"It's not my time," said Brown, who was joined by his wife, Tami, and his mother, Alma, at the news conference. "It's time to step back and move up somebody else. That's what ego is all about, and that's what caring for the city is all about."
Cropp, joined by her husband, Dwight, stood beside Brown and said that his decision brought "renewed strength" to her campaign.
"I appreciate so greatly that you trust me to work to make sure that . . . everyone in the District of Columbia will be included and we will truly be 'One D.C.,' " she said, echoing Brown's campaign theme.
Brown -- along with former Verizon Washington president Marie C. Johns and council member Vincent B. Orange Sr. (D-Ward 5), the other major Democratic mayoral candidates -- has been registering in the single digits in polls.
Brown said that he contacted Orange and Johns to tell them of his plans.
Orange said, "For me, it's full steam ahead" and added that his commercial began airing yesterday.
Johns said in an interview that she would not consider withdrawing: "I questioned his decision . . . after he's been waling on Linda for a year. My plan is to win."
"Politicians have egos," Brown said. "As my family would say, I may have had the biggest ego on the stage of the folks running for mayor. And if I can put my ego aside for what's best for the city, frankly, anybody can."
Kelvin J. Robinson, chairman of the D.C. Chamber of Commerce's political action committee, said that Brown's nod will help Cropp.
"If he's got a base of supporters, certainly East of the river, where he has spent a majority of time, it will be a tremendous boost for Linda," he said. "It's never too late to receive an endorsement and energize your voters."
Brown would not elaborate on how he reached the decision to withdraw but said he and Cropp met late Wednesday at her home. He said he does not want to work in her administration, but if she wins, he would like a policymaking role to ensure that his constituents are not overlooked.
Brown is the son of the late U.S. Commerce secretary Ronald H. Brown. The Brown and Cropp families are close, so much so that as a child Brown called Cropp, 17 years his senior, "Auntie Linda."
Brown acknowledged that he and Cropp have disagreed on some issues, such as spending $611 million on a baseball stadium. If she is elected, he said, he will work to persuade her to look at his plan for refurbishing RFK Stadium.
Fenty, who picked up the endorsement of fellow council colleague Jim Graham (D-Ward 1), said Brown's decision does little to change the dynamics of the campaign.
"It doesn't change what we have to do," Fenty said, "which is finish this campaign in a full sprint."
Staff writers Lori Montgomery and Debbi Wilgoren contributed to this report.