A Sept. 15 Metro article misspelled the name of Tami Brown, wife of D.C. mayoral candidate Michael A. Brown. (Published 9/16/2005)
Lobbyist Michael A. Brown yesterday became the fifth candidate in the race for D.C. mayor, casting himself as a political outsider determined to reorder the city's priorities to benefit struggling District residents rather than wealthy newcomers.
Speaking to an enthusiastic crowd of about 60 supporters outside one of the few sit-down restaurants east of the Anacostia River, Brown (D) disparaged the city's leaders for building a new downtown full of expensive homes and boutiques while neglecting neighborhoods and such vital services as public education.
"We should be ashamed of our schools," Brown said to applause. "It's a shame because the priorities of this city are [focused on] getting all the hot new restaurants in town, making sure we have all the big, pretty condos, making sure there's a baseball stadium and all those kind of things -- instead of talking about our citizens and the services they need."
Although "it's important that we open our arms and our hearts and our pocketbooks to the survivors of [Hurricane] Katrina," Brown said, "make sure you do not forget the people of the District of Columbia that are living in crisis today."
Polls show that Brown, son of the late commerce secretary Ronald H. Brown, enters the campaign with a significantly lower profile among D.C. voters than some of his Democratic rivals. With more than a year to go until the 2006 election, political analysts view D.C. Council Chairman Linda W. Cropp and council member Adrian M. Fenty (Ward 4) as leading a pack of contenders that also includes council member Vincent B. Orange Sr. (Ward 5 ) and former telecommunications executive Marie C. Johns.
Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D) has yet to say whether he will seek a third term. But Williams, who has spent the past week traveling in Greece and Germany, has told people that he is not inclined to run again.
Brown's announcement at the Denny's restaurant on Benning Road NE capped a months-long exploratory campaign that netted more than $150,000 in donations but few prominent supporters. Speaking roles at yesterday's event were filled mainly by family members, including Brown's sister, Tracey -- who said his "immediate family" had urged him not to run -- and Brown's wife, Tammy, with whom he has reunited in recent weeks. When he publicly announced his exploratory campaign last November, Brown predicted that he would be divorced by year's end.
The candidate and his family were surrounded by a racially diverse group of people in bright-yellow "Brown" T-shirts, who periodically chanted such slogans as, "One town under Michael Brown." After the speeches, rally participants ate Denny's mini-burgers and fish sandwiches courtesy of the Brown campaign.
Supporters praised Brown as a "man of the people" who has a genuine message of unity. "He strikes my heart," Ward 8 activist Absalom Jordan said. "He talks about making this city like it used to be. We were a community at one time."
Brown, 40, was born in Germany and grew up in Washington, graduating from Mackin Catholic High School. After college and law school, he worked for various Washington law firms, though he has not passed the bar exam, and serves as managing partner at Alcalde & Fay. He also is a member of the D.C. Boxing and Wrestling Commission and serves as president of a foundation bearing his father's name.
Active in national Democratic politics, Brown also has served on various local boards. Last year, he participated in the search for D.C. School Superintendent Clifford B. Janey.
Months ago, Brown appeared to be struggling financially. A judge in February ordered Brown's employer to garnish his wages because he and a partnership group had failed to make nearly $636,000 in payments on a leased luxury suite at MCI Center. At the time, spokesman Andre Johnson said that Brown had been unaware of the judge's order and that Brown was working to resolve it.
Yesterday, Brown dismissed the idea that his candidacy is a long shot. "The voters will decide," he said.