The Washington Post

Michael Brown remains cagey on special election run

Updated 12:10 p.m. with corrected and additional quotes

Soon-to-be-former D.C. Council member Michael A. Brown remained noncommittal Wednesday on whether he’d seek to reclaim an at-large seat in a April 23 special election.

In a morning NewsChannel 8 appearance, Brown said he was “leaning towards” a run after engaging in a citywide “listening tour.”

“Folks have told me that my work is not done on the council,” he said. “They like having my voice there. They say that I’m the conscience of the council” on issues like affordable housing and jobs. He added that he has a “citywide apparatus in place” should he decide to proceed.

But the only definite pledge he gave was that he’d switch his party registration back to Democrat after he leaves office Jan. 2. Brown, the son of former national Democratic Party chairman Ron Brown, switched parties to run as an independent in 2008.

Brown lost his bid for a second term on Nov. 6, falling nearly 20,000 votes behind independent David Grosso in his bid for one of two at-large council seats.

The clock is ticking for candidates to enter the race. Brown’s nonannouncement comes nearly two weeks after nominating petitions were first made available to candidates. Should he enter the race on Jan. 2, he will have 26 days 21 days to collect valid signatures from 3,000 registered District voters — a tough task made tougher by holiday travel and winter weather.

While Brown would be likely to have the most familiar name in the special election race, that was not much of an advantage for him on Nov. 6. Grosso triumphed by taking advantage of voters’ fatigue with Brown’s various personal and campaign issues — most crucially, the nearly $114,000 that went missing from his campaign account.

Brown has claimed his campaign treasurer stole the money; a lawyer for the treasurer, Hakim Sutton, said Brown knew about the disbursements. The matter has been under criminal investigation. Brown says prosecutors have absolved him of wrongdoing, but the U.S. attorney’s office has not commented on that claim. It not at all clear that the case will be resolved before April.

Brown reiterated his innocence Wednesday, saying prosecutors “looked us directly in the eye and told me that I was completely vindicated.”

The special election is to fill the at-large seat vacated by Phil Mendelson (D) upon his ascension to Council chairman. The local Democratic Party appointed its chairwoman, Anita D. Bonds, to fill the seat until the special election is conducted and certified. While two Democratic officials familiar with the talks say Brown and Bonds have discussed having only one of them seek office, Bonds said she fully intends to proceed and has picked up nominating petitions.

Mike DeBonis covers Congress and national politics for The Washington Post. He previously covered D.C. politics and government from 2007 to 2015.



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Mike DeBonis · December 19, 2012

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