Hopefuls Begin Staking Out Fenty's and Gray's Seats

By Yolanda Woodlee and Elissa Silverman
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Michael A. Brown, who dropped out of the race for D.C. mayor less than two weeks ago, said yesterday that he is preparing to campaign for a seat on the D.C. Council from Ward 4.

That assumes, as most people do, that Democratic nominee Adrian M. Fenty will be elected mayor in the Nov. 7 general election.

Brown is among several potential candidates jockeying to replace Fenty or Vincent C. Gray (D-Ward 7), who was chosen last week as the Democratic nominee for council chairman. Fenty and Gray are expected to win in the November election because a majority of registered voters in the District are Democrats.

If they win, both men would resign from the council and a special election for their ward seats would be conducted next spring.

Brown endorsed Fenty's chief opponent, council Chairman Linda W. Cropp, five days before the Sept. 12 Democratic primary. He said yesterday that he anticipates a challenger armed with the backing of Fenty's political team.

"We have put this on a fast track," Brown, 41, said. "A whole bunch of folks are calling and e-mailing. It's nice to see that my message touched some people. I'm going to ask for everyone's support."

Brown, a lobbyist, lives in Chevy Chase. He is the son of the late U.S. Commerce Secretary Ronald H. Brown.

Fenty, meanwhile, quashed rumors yesterday that his brother, Sean, was mounting a Ward 4 campaign.

"I'm not going to make any endorsements until after the general election," Fenty said. "It's not a family member." He added that the person he has in mind "does happen to be a woman."

His rumored choice is Muriel Bowser, who lives in Northeast Washington and works for Montgomery County. Fenty introduced Bowser to people attending a recent block party in Chevy Chase.

"I do think Muriel Bowser would make an excellent candidate," Fenty said when asked about her yesterday.

Bowser, 34, spent months knocking on doors and meeting residents of upper Northwest neighborhoods, efforts that helped Fenty win 69 percent of the primary vote in his home ward.

A Bowser candidacy has been seen by some political observers as a possible attempt at political machine-building by Fenty, who will need council support for his ambitious reform agenda.

Bowser said she started thinking about running while campaigning for Fenty. A native Washingtonian and advisory neighborhood commissioner in Riggs Park, she said that she will file the paperwork this week to start an exploratory committee.

Bowser is assistant director of the Silver Spring Regional Service Center. She is also first vice president of the Ward 4 Democrats and is involved in the Lamond Riggs Citizens Association.

"I'll maintain a high energy level and bring citizens the same level of constituent services that they're used to," said Bowser, who said she will run a Fenty-style door-to-door campaign.

Gray, who is also president of the Ward 7 Democrats, said that he planned to put together "criteria" he considered important for anyone seeking his council seat.

"I'm going to advance my opinion," Gray said. "I put my life into this job for the last 21 months."

Staff writer Nikita Stewart contributed to this report.

© 2006 The Washington Post Company