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Now that At-Large Councilmember Vincent Orange has developed a sense of shame and decided to resign his seat when he starts running the D.C. Chamber of Commerce next week, Democratic at-large nominee Robert White would look like the obvious candidate to fill the seat.
White already beat Orange in June’s primary, and he’ll almost certainly win the seat in November’s general election. But now White has some competition for filling the remaining four months on Orange’s Council term because D.C. Democratic State Committee member Anita Bellamy Shelton wants the seat for herself.
White’s the prohibitive favorite, but Shelton’s political role could come in handy. Thanks to the opaque process that allows the DCDSC to fill Council seats left open by Democratic councilmembers, Orange’s temporary replacement will be decided by the committee’s membership.
Shelton—a longtime District activist, former Marion Barry–era government official, and the DCDSC’s Ward 1 committeewoman—says White should spend the rest of the year focused on getting out the general election vote. While White’s busy, Shelton is happy to be a councilmember for a few months.
“There needs to be a vote and not a coronation,” Shelton says.
White didn’t respond to LL’s request for comment, but he sounded confident in an interview with the Washington Times that the DCDSC will choose him instead. White has good reason to start measuring drapes, given that he has the support of At-Large Councilmember and DCDSC boss Anita Bonds.
One DCDSC official who will be voting in the election describes White as the “consensus pick,” putting the chance that Shelton or any other challenger could beat him for the remaining term at between 5 and 10 percent.
Despite facing long odds, Shelton is happy to throw some elbows in the race. In an interview with LL, Shelton says that White registered as an independent in 2014 to compete for one of the Council seats reserved for non-Democrats.
“He was an independent,” Shelton says. “Not that I hold that against him.”