Michael A. Brown: since the election

Two Michael Browns Stir Confusion at the Polls

(Courtesy Of Michael-a. Brown)
By Yolanda Woodlee
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, September 16, 2006

Michael Brown got more votes than Adrian M. Fenty in Tuesday's election -- but not for mayor.

And it wasn't Michael A. Brown, the lobbyist who challenged Fenty; it was Michael D. Brown, the unknown political consultant running for an equally low-profile political seat: shadow senator.

It's more than middle initials that separate the two Browns. One Brown (A) is black; the other Brown (D) is white. One (A) is bald; the other (D) has a full head of hair. At 53, D is 12 years older than A.

Michael D. Brown got 59,223, or 73 percent, of the votes cast in the Democratic primary for shadow senator, compared with Fenty's 57,361 in the mayor's race. Michael A. Brown, the mayoral candidate who dropped out last week but whose name still appeared on the ballot, got 584 votes, or less than 1 percent.

Michael A. Brown said some voters were confused. Since the election, people have congratulated him for winning the shadow senator nomination, and others have asked: "You got more votes than Fenty; why didn't you win?"

That's exactly the question asked by Michael D. Brown, the owner of a small communications firm who has worked in national politics. "If people thought they were voting for him, he'd be mayor," Michael D. Brown said. "Why did I get 75 percent of the vote? He didn't have that kind of support."

At political forums attended by both Michael A. Brown and Michael D. Brown, the shadow senator candidate was referred to as "the other Michael Brown."

Michael D. Brown defeated Philip Pannell, a popular African American political activist, who got 20,199, or 25 percent, of the votes. The two men were vying for the seat held since 1990 by Florence H. Pendleton (D). The shadow senator is an unpaid lobbyist for D.C. statehood.

Michael D. Brown spent $949 on his campaign, which included hanging 2,200 black-and-white signs with his name in large print across the city. The former mayoral candidate spent $272,455 on his truncated effort and blanketed the city with bright yellow-and-brown signs.

Michael D. Brown insists he did not enter the race to take advantage of name confusion.

"Of course he took advantage," said Pannell, who is president of the Ward 8 Democrats. "Anytime I lose my [predominantly black] ward by 72 percent to some white guy, how do you think I feel? People are coming up to me saying: 'I'm sorry you lost. The thing about it was Michael Brown was running.' I was beaten by a name more so than a person."

Sandra Seegars, who worked the polls in Ward 8, said she was constantly explaining that Michael D. Brown was "not the same person" as the mayoral candidate. "They said, 'I don't want him for mayor, but he'll be okay for shadow senator.' "

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