The Washington Post

Mendelson says he supports Orange, Brown

Acting D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson said Monday that he supports incumbent at-large members Vincent B. Orange and Michael Brown in the Nov. 6 elections because his colleagues can “always” count on his support.

When asked his views about the upcoming election, Mendelson did not directly throw his support behind either Orange (D) or Brown (I), both of whom are competing against five other candidates seeking two-at large seats, one of which is reserved for a non-Democrat.

But Mendelson said he would never come out against one of his colleagues, cementing his reputation as a cautious politician and leader who is not likely to aggressively take on the city’s political establishment.

“I always have to be mindful that, because council members have to work together, we have to be collegial, that the golden role is do unto others as you would have them do unto you, that I will never pick sides against the candidacy of a colleague,” said Mendelson, who is also running in the special election for chairman Nov. 6.

Though Mendelson is overwhelmingly favored to win his race, the at-large race is more fluid as both Orange and Brown have battled campaign controversies over the past year. Mendelson said he hasn’t had any discussions with Orange or Brown about forming a ticket, but added, “I always support my colleagues.”

Mendelson’s statement could annoy some activists who have long argued that the District political leaders are often too reticent to support challengers seeking public office.

Over the past two years, both former council chairman Kwame R. Brown and former Ward 5 council member Harry Thomas Jr. have been forced to resign after pleading guilty to separate federal crimes.

When asked whether he would also be supporting Brown or Thomas had they not resigned, Mendelson said, “I don’t want to go into a lot of past experiences. It is what I said it is.”

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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