D.C. Council member Kwame R. Brown appeared to win reelection to his at-large seat today while Michael A. Brown, no relation, held a lead in early returns over incumbent Carol Schwartz's ambitious write-in campaign for the other at-large seat.
In other council races, incumbents Jack Evans (D-Ward 2), Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4), Yvette M. Alexander (D-Ward 7) and Marion Barry (D-Ward 8) appeared headed for easy wins.
There was no decisive result yet for the second at-large seat on the ballot because of the elections board's caution in releasing results. With 20 out of 143 precincts reporting about 10:30 p.m., Kwame Brown far outpaced the other candidates.
Council member Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3), chairman of a special council committee appointed to investigate the board, called tonight's delay "an embarrassment."
The D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics was being cautious, fearful of a repeat of the primary blunder when thousands of phantom votes appeared in initial results that were not scrutinized before they were released to the public. Officials blamed a faulty cartridge from a single voting precinct for the problem.
Board spokesman Daniel Murphy said, "They are checking and rechecking everything. We want to make sure what we're putting out is accurate and correct."
But Cheh, who was at the board's headquarters, said the double-checking was taking too long. "I've told them it's turning out to be an embarrassment. Every jurisdiction across the country is releasing results," she said. "It seems to me that we could have a better balance."
The delay left candidates in the hotly contested at-large race in limbo.
Kwame Brown, who was seeking a second term, rode a Democratic wave and ran a highly organized campaign that forced Michael Brown, Schwartz and four other candidates to battle it out for the second at-large seat that was up for grabs.
Voters were allowed to pick two candidates for two at-large seats. Under the Home Rule charter, one of the seats must go to a non-Democrat. The fight for that seat turned into a one-on-one contest between 64-year-old Schwartz and 43-year-old Michael Brown, a Democrat turned independent and son of the late U.S. secretary of commerce Ron Brown.
Schwartz, the longtime Republican incumbent, lost the GOP primary in September to newcomer Patrick Mara and decided to wage the write-in effort to keep her seat. But tonight, her write-ins also trailed Mara in those early returns. In the last two weeks of campaigning for the second at-large seat, Brown and Schwartz's fight appeared to become another battleground in the high-stakes tug of war between Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) and council Chairman Vincent C. Gray (D).
The other candidates in that second at-large race included Dee Hunter and Mark Long, who switched from being Democrats to independents, and Statehood Green candidate David Schwartzman.
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