The Washington Post

Orange going quiet as election nears

Council member Vincent B. Orange (Tracy A. Woodward/The Washington Post)

Orange, the Democratic nominee in the race for two at-large seats on the council, told The Washington Post it’s time for the voters to decide.

“Interviews, questions, forums are over,” Orange said. “It’s up to the voters to decide.”

Orange’s statement is further evidence that he’s adopting a low-key strategy in a campaign in which he’s heavily favored to win one of the two seats because he’s the Democratic nominee. According to campaign finance reports, Orange has spent only $350 on his campaign over the past three weeks.

Though he participated in several candidate forums this fall, Orange at times showed up late or left early, before residents could question him. With the exception of his home base in Northeast, Orange campaign signs have also been limited on city street poles – a big departure from his past races.

And unlike some past Democratic nominees in council races, Orange does not appear to be mounting an aggressive get-out-the-vote strategy to boost the Democratic ticket up and down the ballot.

Orange’s quiet campaign comes as he remains on the defensive after it was reported this spring that he collected more than $26,000 in campaign contributions from contractor Jeffrey E. Thompson that Orange labeled “suspicious.” Many of the money orders contained similar handwriting and sequential order numbers. Thompson is at the center of an ongoing federal investigation into allegations that Mayor Vincent C. Gray ran a shadow campaign in 2010.

Orange has been telling voters he’s been cleared by the Office of Campaign Finance of any wrongdoing. But The Washington Post’s Mike DeBonis noted in a column last week that Orange’s contributions from Thompson “remain questionable.”

Orange and incumbent Michael A. Brown (I-At Large) are trying to fend off challenges from Republican Mary Brooks Beatty, Statehood Green Party candidate Ann C. Wilcox and independent candidates David Grosso, A.J. Cooper and Leon Swain Jr.

Voters can vote for as many as two candidates, and the top two vote-getters win citywide at-large seats.

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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