D.C.'s Schwartz Decides to Fight

Council Member Will Run for Seat as a Write-In

Longtime District council member Carol Schwartz plans a write-in campaign this year after losing to Patrick Mara in the Republican primary on Sept. 9.
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 16, 2008; Page B01

D.C. Council member Carol Schwartz tried all last week to accept defeat, but she just couldn't do it.

"I don't think I can let that happen," she said. "Not without putting up a fight."

So the four-term at-large council member, dazed last week by 33-year-old Patrick Mara's win in the Republican primary, announced yesterday that she will be a write-in candidate for the November general election.

"I am here today to say, as Mark Twain once said, 'The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated,' " Schwartz dramatically declared before news media and T-shirt-clad, sticker-wearing supporters squeezed into her campaign headquarters on U Street NW.

Schwartz, 64, is a popular moderate Republican who has thrived in a city of Democrats, partly because of her unsuccessful yet impressive bids for mayor over the years.

That makes her write-in quest achievable, but political observers say it is no guarantee. It will take money and organization -- two elements she was missing, at least initially, in her primary bid.

"You're not talking about a Sam's Club election," said former mayor Anthony A. Williams, who was reelected in a 2002 write-in campaign after mistakes in his nominating petitions. "Just getting people versed on the technical aspect. . . . I wouldn't underestimate it."

Then he added, with a laugh, "Obviously, I think it can be done."

Schwartz's announcement added a twist to an already messy contest.

Mara, Statehood Green candidate David Schwartzman and independents Michael A. Brown, Dee Hunter and Mark Long are all on the ballot with council member Kwame R. Brown (D-At Large). Brown ran unopposed in the Democratic primary.

A quirky D.C. law requires voters to choose two candidates among them. But the top two vote-getters do not necessarily win. One of the winners must be from a party other than the majority one, which is the Democratic Party.

The law, which has been criticized as unfair, often spurs candidates to make strategic moves, such as changing party affiliation, to avoid facing a strong Democrat, such as Kwame Brown. All three independents -- Michael Brown, a lobbyist and son of the late Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown; Hunter, a lawyer and former council aide; and Long, an education consultant -- were previously registered Democrats.

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