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Kwame R. Brown poised to lead D.C. Council

Residents in the District, Maryland and Virginia turned out Tuesday to choose their elected officials.

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Orange is now openly seeking the seat. Jacque Patterson, a Ward 8 community leader, and Sekou Biddle, the Ward 4 representative to the State Board of Education, have also announced that they will explore runs, and Ward 5 council member Harry Thomas Jr. is said to be considering a bid.

Attorney general vote

According to partial results, D.C. residents voted overwhelminglyto elect the city's attorney general - a job that has been filled by mayoral appointment - likely adding a new citywide office to ballots for the first time since home rule.

The law would go into effect after a congressional review period expected to expire in mid-January; observers consider it unlikely that Congress would intervene. Under the proposed law, the first elected attorney general would not serve until January 2015.

"People in this town are hungry for more democracy," said Walter Smith, executive director of D.C. Appleseed, a policy nonprofit group that has studied the issue.

Critics of the measure fear that an elected office will not attract the sharp legal minds that have often held the post, known as corporation counsel until 2004. The current attorney general, Peter Nickles, came to the office after a distinguished litigation career. A close family friend of Mayor Adrian M. Fenty's, he served as the administration's indispensable man on controversial issues and clashed often with council members over mayoral prerogatives- leading, some contended, to the ballot measure.

Nickles has warned that the move to an elected top lawman would not only unduly politicize the office but also require the mayor to hire a new corps of lawyers to represent mayoral interests, thus increasing administrative costs. Bill proponents, backed by city financial officials, did not share that assessment.

Smith, a former deputy attorney general under Mayor Anthony A. Williams, said he thought the change would "not ... have a great impact administratively."

Politically, the issue is more complex. An elected attorney general would have a platform to rival the mayor and council chairman, creating a competing base of political power in the city government.

Other races

Republicans, relegated to the sidelines in city politics, focused their efforts on the four ward races. They appear to have come closest to victory in Ward 3, the city's most affluent and richest in registered Republican voters, according to an early count.

There, Republican David Hedgepeth targeted incumbent Democrat Mary M. Cheh for her support of Gray in a ward where better than 80 percent of primary voters preferred Fenty.

In 2006, a Republican won 27 percent of the vote against Cheh; this year, Hedgepeth improved on that showing, but apparently not enough to dispatch Cheh, a law professor.

According to unofficial results, Democrat Jim Graham outpolled Republican Marc Morgan in Ward 1 and Nancy Shia of the Statehood Green Party, winning a fourth term. In Ward 5, Thomaseasily fended off a strong challenge from Republican Timothy Day, who had made an issue of Thomas's private fundraising in recent weeks. An independent, Kathy Henderson, also appeared on the ballot.

In Ward 6, incumbent Tommy Wells (D) won handily overRepublican Jim DeMartino. In the at-large race, independent David A. Catania headed to a fourth full term. Phil Mendelson, a Democrat, was expected to do the same. A Statehood Green candidate, David Schwartzman, and an independent, Richard Urban, fell well short.

In nonpartisan ward-based races for the State Board of Education, unofficial returns showed Ward 1 incumbent Dotti Love Wade falling behind challenger Patrick Mara, a consultant and former D.C. Council candidate. In Ward 6, Monica Warren-Jones, running with Wells' support for an open seat, outpolled Melissa Rohan in another contested race. Incumbents Mark Jones, of Ward 5, and Laura McGiffert Slover, of Ward 3, both won second terms.

Democrat Eleanor Holmes Norton cruised to an 11th term as the District's congressional delegate. With the expected Republican gains Tuesday, she will be faced with fending off renewed attempts to intervene in city affairs.

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