The Washington Post

D.C. council member Tommy Wells hints he might back Cooper in at-large race

D.C. Council member Tommy Wells hinted Friday his second vote in the Nov. 6 at-large council race could go to A.J. Cooper, an independent who is campaigning as an outsider and younger alternative to incumbent Michael A. Brown.

D.C. council member Tommy Wells (Marvin Joseph/WASHINGTON POST)

Appearing on Newstalk with Bruce Depuyt, Wells (Ward 6) reiterated his previous endorsement for independent candidate David Grosso, an attorney from Brookland. But when asked by Depuyt which candidate is likely to get his second vote, Wells said he’s “particularly impressed” with Cooper.

 “A.J. Cooper really speaks to young people,” said Wells, a Democrat. “He speaks to a group that sometimes feels left behind and are not part of the political discourse in D.C. who I really believe need to be part of shaping the future of the city.”

Cooper, 31, is a policy director at the D.C. Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy and nephew of Peggy Cooper Cafritz, a philanthropist and former school board member. During candidates forums and debates, Cooper frequently criticizes both Brown (I) and Democratic incumbent Vincent B. Orange (D), arguing the city needs new and more ethical leadership.

In the interview, Wells appeared to stop just short of officially endorsing Cooper, saying only he’s been “very interested in A.J. Cooper’s campaign.” 

If he formally endorses Cooper, Wells would be on record as not supporting the Democratic nominee, Orange. Wells endorsed Grosso two weeks ago, and District voters can vote for up two candidates in the at-large race..

Wells was unavailable to comment Friday afternoon. In recent months, Wells has been reaching out to 20- and 30-something activists as he ponders a potential mayoral campaign.

According to campaign finance reports filed Oct. 10,  Cooper has raised $9,700 for his campaign and has spent all but $330 of it.  But Cooper, who has plastered many corridors with his campaign signs, appears to be making some inroads with voters.

A Washington City Paper/The Kojo Nnamdi Show poll published Friday showed Cooper receiving 7 percent of the vote,  placing him fourth out of six candidates included in the survey.

So far, Wells is the only DC council member to endorse a non-incumbent in the at-large race.

Tim Craig is The Post’s bureau chief in Pakistan. He has also covered conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and within the District of Columbia government.


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