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D.C. Council At-Large Race Too Close To Call

Final primary results await count of absentee ballots

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Campaign volunteers pore over the votes at the D.C. Board of Elections & Ethics headquarters the night of the primary. The race for at-large D.C. Council is still undecided, with Council member Vincent Orange leading by a slim margin before the absentee ballots were counted.
Patrick Madden
Campaign volunteers pore over the votes at the D.C. Board of Elections & Ethics headquarters the night of the primary. The race for at-large D.C. Council is still undecided, with Council member Vincent Orange leading by a slim margin before the absentee ballots were counted.

Four incumbents in the District of Columbia's Democratic primaries won declaratively on Tuesday, with former mayor Marion Barry tallying 73 percent of the vote in Ward 8, and Muriel Bowser, Yvette Alexander and Jack Evans sweeping to comfortable victories as well. Things were not so cut-and-dry in the race for the at-large council seat, however.

In that race, incumbent at-large Council member Vincent Orange leads one of his challengers, Sekou Biddle, by just 41 percent to 40 percent -- by a slim margin of only 543 votes.

There are still more than 3,000 absentee ballots and other voters to tally, so the official outcome is unlikely to be known until April 13, when election officials will count them all. Absentee ballots are not normally counted unless they can be expected to sway the outcome of the race.

Orange has been linked in recent weeks to prolific political donor Jeffrey Thompson, who has been the subject of federal investigations. Orange has not been accused of any wrongdoing, but his campaign did receive a number of bundled donations from Thompson and his associates that have raised questions, and the question of ethics may have played a factor.

In the city's Republican primaries, Ron Moten beat Don Folden in the Ward 7 race, and will take on Alexander in November's general election. Republican Mary Brooks Beatty also ran unopposed for the Republican nomination for the at-large race; she will run against the eventual winner of the Democratic primary, and Statehood Green party candidate Ann C. Wilcox Nov. 6. 

In the Presidential primary, D.C. Republicans gave Mitt Romney their delegates with 68 percent of the vote. Turnout for the election was on par with previous elections, and there were no reports of malfunction or delays at the polls.

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