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So far, Brandon Todd has had an easy run in the Ward 4 special election to replace Muriel Bowser. Thanks in part to Bowser’s endorsement, he’s outraised his 14 opponents by nearly $200,000. But now rival candidate Doug Sloan tells LL that two questions about Todd should make voters wonder about the leading candidate in the April 28 race.
First up: Todd’s Republican past. According to D.C. Board of Elections documents obtained by LL, Todd voted in five elections as a member of the GOP. Todd joined the Democrats in October 2007, and cast his first ballot as a Democrat in the District’s 2008 Democratic presidential primary. DCBOE spokeswoman Denise Tolliver confirmed to LL that Todd voted in the District as a Republican Party member.
There’s some good irony here, since Todd mentor Bowser spent the better part of last year stressing the importance of always being a Democrat. Running against ex-Republican David Catania for mayor, Bowser and her surrogates repeatedly brought up Catania’s former GOP affiliation, which was by then ten years in the past.
That hasn’t stopped Bowser from embracing her former campaign and Council staffer. Todd became enthusiastic enough about Democratic politics after his party switch to become the president of the Ward 4 Democrats.
“Maybe someone would be able to write that off as a youthful indiscretion or something like that, but in this city we take that pretty seriously,” Sloan says, adding, “Someone who has registered as a Republican and shares their values or ideals, it doesn’t seem like someone I want to elect to office.”
Asked about Todd’s previous party affiliation, Todd spokesman Everett Hamilton insisted that his candidate is now a Democrat.
“As the president of the Ward 4 Democrats and someone who was a delegate to the Democratic Convention and voted for Barack Obama, the residents of Ward 4 are very clear that Brandon is a proud Democrat,” Hamilton said.
Todd also faces a residency challenge filed by former Sloan campaign worker Alonzo Edmondson. Edmondson’s argument hinges on a purported discrepancy between Todd’s DCBOE declaration of candidacy form and a potential second address.
Bear with LL, because this gets in the weeds. The candidacy form asks office-seekers to list where they’ve lived for the past three years. Todd listed a house on the 5000 block of 5th St. NW, and claimed that he has lived there since Oct. 1998.
The candidates are asked to swear that the information on the form is true. But Todd’s form appears to leave out another address on the 200 block of Upshur St. NW that Edmondson claims Todd uses as another residence.
Edmondson’s evidence that Todd left off one of his addresses includes a Google Street View picture of the house. It shows a Jaguar matching the description of Todd’s car parked in the driveway. While the Jaguar’s license plate is blurred out, it looks to be a low-number plate. Todd’s own car also has a low-number plate.
Residency issues are tricky to prove, and the Upshur St. house is in Ward 4 anyway, meaning that even if Todd lived there he could run for the seat. Sloan says he isn’t sure why Todd wouldn’t list the Upshur St. address.
“He lied,” Sloan says. “For some reason, he doesn’t want people to know that he lives there.”
Hamilton declined to comment on the residency challenge. DCBOE is set to hear the challenge on Thursday.
Photo by Will Sommer