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Muriel Bowser voted for herself this morning around 7:30 am. But even before then, the race to succeed her in the Ward 4 D.C. Council seat had begun.

While Bowser’s mayoral hopes are still undecided, political hopefuls eying a rare open Council seat are looking to get a head start on replacing Bowser. A.J. Cooper, a two-time at-large candidate, has already planned a campaign rally for this Saturday if Bowser gets elected.

“I wanted to show the residents that I’m not waiting on anyone’s blessing to do it,” Cooper, who now runs an urban farming group, says.

Bowser hasn’t made a public endorsement for any future special election to replace her, but if she does she’ll be replicating the way that she got onto the Council: with an endorsement from former mayor and Ward 4 Councilmember Adrian Fenty. Cooper says that by jumping in before Bowser endorses, he shows he’s not waiting on the results of any “coronation” or “secret meetings.”

Cooper will have some competition. Outside her polling place at the LaSalle-Backus Education Campus, Bowser greeted voters a few feet away from Doug Sloan, an ANC commissioner and former delegate candidate who says that he’ll “most likely” run for Bowser’s seat if she wins.

When LL proposed seizing the opportunity and asking Bowser for her endorsement while they were standing next to each other, Sloan demurred. That, he said, would be too shameless.

Photo courtesy A.J. Cooper