Correction to This Article
A previous version of this column incorrectly stated that at-large Council member Kwame Brown had endorsed at-large candidate Michael Brown. Kwame Brown has not endorsed any at-large candidate.

A High-Stakes Election for Mid-Term Fenty

By Colbert I. King
Saturday, November 1, 2008

Tuesday's local election results will have a heavy bearing on the political future of an elected official whose name is not on the ballot.

That person, you may think, is at-large D.C. Council member Carol Schwartz, who was defeated in the September Republican primary and is now waging an uphill write-in campaign.

But she is not the D.C. politician with the most riding on Tuesday's voting.

That distinction belongs to first-term Mayor Adrian Fenty.

At stake is Fenty's ability to effectively govern during his next two years in office. Fenty's opponents, working behind closed doors in the John Wilson Building, in unions and in select D.C. churches, are using this election to stack the legislative deck against him -- a goal they think they can achieve by capturing Schwartz's at-large seat.

They aim to forge a council majority strong enough to face down the mayor.

While their target is Schwartz's seat, their instrument of attack is Michael Brown, a Democrat-turned-independent who is running as an at-large candidate.

They expect Brown, if elected, to align himself with council members Marion Barry (D-Ward 8), Kwame Brown (D-At Large), Harry Thomas Jr. (D-Ward 5), Yvette Alexander (D-Ward 7) and council Chairman Vincent Gray (D) -- all of whom, except from Kwame Brown, have endorsed Michael Brown. They also are counting on Phil Mendelson (D-At Large), the Fenty administration's most outspoken critic, to side with the Barry Five on important votes. Should that come to pass, presto: a seven-member majority.

To make matters worse, there's bad blood between the mayor and Brown. You may recall that Brown challenged Fenty in the last mayoral Democratic primary, only to drop out before Election Day and throw his support to Fenty's chief opponent, then-D.C. Council Chairman Linda Cropp. Fenty, long on memory, is short on forgiveness.

Which gets us back to the other name that won't be on the ballot: Carol Schwartz.

She's a long shot to beat Michael Brown for one of the two at-large council seats up for grabs. The other is occupied by Kwame Brown, who is expected to cruise to victory.

The rest of the field -- independents Mark Long and Dee Hunter, Republican Patrick Mara, and David Schwartzman of the Statehood Green Party -- pose little threat to Michael Brown.

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