At-large Councilman Kwame Brown, who is in a heated contest for the D.C. Council chairmanship with former Ward 5 representative Vincent Orange, has won yet another straw poll.
Having already succeeded in polls for wards 3, 4 and 7, Brown, in this latest vote that was sponsored by residents of Ward 8, proved his mettle by drawing on his longtime fight for better public schools, small business growth and beefed-up economic development for the District of Columbia.
Election to the powerful Council chair post would provide Brown significant guardianship over the city’s $5.2 billion budget. However, because of recent revelations surrounding management of his personal finances, some doubt Brown would be suitable for assuming Vincent Gray’s seat — particularly when the city is grappling with unsteady financial footing.
But according to Michael Fauntroy, public policy professor at George Mason University, Brown’s personal problems probably won’t have much negative impact on his campaign.
“I haven’t heard anybody say that this is the kind of thing that would turn voters off from him,” he told the AFRO.
Brown said District residents are keenly aware of the positive results he’s garnered during his five-year Council tenure and that the only people bashing him are those in support of Orange.
“All the financial obligations they’re talking about include my house which is always going to be a big number,” Brown said. “I clearly take responsibility for the credit card issue, but it’s still 100 percent for the residents of the District of Columbia that I am working for. On top of all those issues, no one has ever accused me of lackadaisical conduct on the job.”
Brown added that with the exception of the Washington Post, so far he’s picked up endorsements from just about every organization that has backed Gray — who himself is pitted in a contentious battle for the mayoral seat held by incumbent Adrian Fenty.
While some have begun questioning why Orange would leave his high profile executive job in the private sector for yet another run on the governing body, Ron Walters, retired University of Maryland political science professor, said it’s part of Orange’s persona. “It’s something he’s always wanted to do, even when he was a member of the Council,” Walters said. “It’s a natural progression to the job of mayor in the District of Columbia.”
Also during the Ward 8 poll, Clark Ray prevailed in his efforts to gain the seat currently held by Brown.