District Council member Vincent B. Orange (D-At Large) resigned Monday to lead the D.C. Chamber of Commerce, buckling under pressure to leave office rather than simultaneously lead the business lobby and the committee, which regulates businesses.
He touted a career of “service above self” at a morning news conference at the John A. Wilson Building, where he made official an early end to a 12-year political career to take a private-sector job.
Orange has been a longtime fixture in District politics, representing Ward 5 from 1999 to 2007, holding an at-large seat since 2011 and making two unsuccessful bids for mayor. He lost reelection in the Democratic primary in June to political newcomer Robert White, a former aide to D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) and Attorney General Karl A. Racine.
White is favored to be appointed by local Democratic Party officials to fill Orange’s vacancy and win a full term in the November general election. It is unclear whether the Board of Elections will call a special election to finish Orange’s term.
No other council members appeared at Orange’s public farewell. Many had blasted him for what they called an obvious conflict of interest: leading a group tasked with pushing business interests while still in office.
As of Monday, Orange’s name already had been removed from an office directory at the Wilson Building. The official D.C. Council Twitter account tweeted a photo of the 12 remaining lawmakers with no comment.
Ethics officials are drafting an opinion laying out restrictions for Orange on lobbying his former colleagues as president of the Chamber of Commerce. Orange has said he would focus on fundraising and attracting new chamber members rather than influencing legislation.
Orange has been one of the most colorful and boisterous members of the council during his service.
True to that form, he ended his news conference by blaring the hit song “Happy” by Pharrell Williams on his phone.
“I’m happy,” he said. “You’re happy. We should all be happy.”