Phil Mendelson vs. Michael Brown: A Case of Political Identity Theft

At-Large D.C. Councilmember Phil Mendelson at work on a typewriter. (Good to know they still exist!)


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At-Large Councilmember Phil Mendelson is running for his fourth four-year term on the D.C. Council. For months, his only somewhat-serious challenge came from Clark Ray, a former director of D.C. Parks and Recreation under Mayor Adrian Fenty. But in the last weeks, another candidate, Shadow Senator Michael D. Brown, has come on strong despite hardly campaigning.

Michael D. Brown, who is white, appears to be doing best in areas that are predominantly African-American and where he’s least well known. In addition to winning the Ward 5 straw poll, a recent Washington Post poll of likely voters showed Michael D. Brown leading Mendelson 41 to 29 percent.

What gives? It appears that many voters are confusing Michael D. Brown with the popular D.C. Councilmember Michael A. Brown. The two Michael Browns look nothing alike: Michael D. is white; while Michael A. is black. In the remaining days before the September 14th primary, Mendelson must work to overcome this case of political identity theft.

The Washington Post declined to make an endorsement in the at-large contest between Phil Mendelson and Clark Ray.  In its September 2, 2010 editorial, the Washington Post said “Mr. Mendelson’s contributions — notably the revision of city gun laws and his leadership on marriage equality — are outweighed by what we see as a timidity, even a pandering, in his governing. He voted against mayoral control of schools; while he professes to back Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee and her reforms, he’s done little to support her important work. His oversight of executive functions, such as emergency services, has remained disappointing, and he’s been a naysayer on too many initiatives to combat crime.”

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