Beatty’s main competition is Brown and Grosso, not the Democrat in the race. (Macy L. Freeman/The Washington Post)

In her Examiner column today, Jonetta Rose Barras finds it “[f]ascinating” that Republican at-large D.C. Council candidate Mary Brooks Beatty, asked to name her two favorite competitors in a recent candidate forum, named independent A.J. Cooper and incumbent Democrat Vincent Orange.

Is it really that fascinating? Beatty is trying to position herself as the primo alternative to embattled non-Democratic incumbent Michael A. Brown (I) — a distinction for which she is in direct competition with independent David Grosso. Why not, if you’re Beatty, build your bipartisan bona fides by saying a nice word or two about incumbent Orange, who as the only Democrat on the ballot is likely to win anyway?

What’s somewhat fascinating, if not surprising, is that Beatty has started leveling attacks on the better-financed Grosso, trying to soften up his appeal as the go-to non-Brown candidate.

All of this, of course, is rooted in the District’s system reserving one of the two at-large seats on the ballot Nov. 6 for a non-Democrat. In a different world, Brown, Orange and Grosso would all be running as the Democrats they either are or used to be — or, in a very different world, running without any party affiliation at all