Linda Cropp campaigns in Northwest Washington in September 2006. (NIKKI KAHN/THE WASHINGTON POST)

In early 2006, Linda Cropp, then the chairman of the D.C. Council, seemed destined for the mayor’s office. A calm, backroom conciliator, she helped repair the council’s image, tarnished by mismanagement and financial bungling during the 1990s. Later in the year, she was endorsed by Mayor Anthony Williams, who thought her the best person to carry on the legacy of economic revival and expansion.

Then she lost her primary campaign against Ward 4 Councilman Adrian Fenty.

She was saddened by the defeat and thought The Washington Post had been too favorable toward Fenty, overemphasizing the candidates’ age difference. She was 58 to Fenty’s 35.

“You don’t know how much that hurt,” she said recently of the 2006 media coverage.

Her 26-year political career ended. But on the upside, she consoled herself, she would have more time for her husband, Dwight, her two grown children and her 6-year-old grandson.

Today, at 64, she plays bridge, makes jewelry and goes on annual trips with her family. Her grandson, now 12, still spends Friday nights with his grandparents at their red brick colonial in Crestwood. His DVDs and video games clutter the sitting room.

Ah, the emeritus years.

Wait a minute. There’s more.

“Mom’s failing retirement,” her daughter once ribbed.

After leaving the city council, Cropp joined the board of the Community Preservation and Development Corp., a District-based firm that develops affordable housing throughout the mid-Atlantic.

She also sits on the board of trustees of CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield. One of her favorite accomplishments was raising more than $200,000 for the Capital Breast Care Center.

And she does volunteer work with Capital City Links, a community organization. With the Links she often sponsors book drives with local high schools and youth groups, such as the D.C. chapter of Boys Town.

Despite the long hours each week, she finds time to travel each summer. In 2009, she took a Mediterranean cruise. In 2010, she went to Turkey and Greece. She had to miss the family’s last trip over the summer because she sprained her ankle so severely she had to stay off it for half a year. She expects to take another trip this summer but hasn’t made plans yet.

Had she won in 2006, it is possible Cropp would still be mayor today. She reflected on that: “I’ll tell you what my husband said immediately. He said I added 10 years to my life and five years to his. It would have been stressful.”