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November Fireworks Expected For D.C. Council At-Large Race

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The at-large race between challenger David Grosso, left, and incumbent Michael Brown, right, may depend on the results of an official hearing.
Grosso for Council / Michael Brown for Council
The at-large race between challenger David Grosso, left, and incumbent Michael Brown, right, may depend on the results of an official hearing.

In D.C. politics, it's usually the primary race in April that captures the most time, money and attention. This November's at-large council race, however, is becoming one to watch. The key match-up: Independent incumbent Michael Brown versus Independent challenger David Grosso.

Brown, the son of the late Ron Brown, a powerful, popular figure in the national Democratic party, enters the race with strong name recognition and proven fundraising prowess. But Brown's campaign has suffered a series of mishaps and challenges. Earlier this year, he replaced a staffer who allegedly embezzled money from Brown's campaign bank account.

The latest and most pressing challenge for the campaign is the right to stay on the ballot. Yesterday, the board of elections held a preliminary hearing on the issue after Grosso challenged whether Brown had enough valid signatures to qualify. The official hearing will take place sometime next month.

"It's disappointing to see that these frivolous challenges are forcing the board of elections and our campaign to spend so much time talking about petitions, when we should be talking about issues that matter like jobs," says Brown campaign spokesperson Asher Corson.

Chuck Thies, a local political analyst, says no incumbent council member in recent memory has ever lost in November's general election if he or she is on the ballot: "If Michael Brown is not on the ballot, his ability to win this as a write-in candidate is very questionable, in fact I think it makes him a long-shot."

Grosso, a former D.C. Council staffer, says he believes he has a strong shot of winning, regardless of how the elections board rules.

"Either way, if Michael Brown ends up on the ballot that doesn't concern me," says Grosso. "I think we have a very strong campaign we have been running, I am very confident we can beat him in this electoral process.

Grosso is also calling on the Office of Campaign Finance to temporarily freeze Brown's campaign account because the campaign has been told to not file any fundraising reports since the alleged theft, which Grosso says gives it an unfair advantage.

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