Since losing her D.C. Council seat two years ago, longtime Republican standard-bearer and formerly reliable quote-machine Carol Schwartz has largely shunned city politics, keeping her name out of the media and spending chunks of time at her Rehoboth Beach redoubt.
But this morning, Schwartz—calling from New York, where she was spending Rosh Hashannah with her daughter—broke her silence. What was it that brought the veteran pol out of her post-political funk? The possible fate of former colleague Phil Mendelson.
“Originally I had an imposed retirement on me,” Schwartz said. “Then I went into self-imposed exile. This is the only thing that brought me back. It just kept me up at night.”
Schwartz was referring to polls that suggest Mendelson may lose to comparative unknown Michael D. Brown, apparently because many voters confuse him with popular incumbent Michael A. Brown. Though she’s not a Democrat, Schwartz was sufficiently concerned about the possibility that she issued a statement calling Michael D. Brown’s candidacy a “political scam.”
How much weight Schwartz’s statement carries in Wards 7 and 8—the heavily African American wards where the white, Ward 3-residing Michael D. Brown has been polling most strongly—is debatable.
All the same, Schwartz, who was herself ousted in a disputed contest, clearly sees some parallels between her fate and Mendselson’s. “People say to me practically every day in the last 20 months that they miss me on the Council,” she writes. “I’m speaking up today because I do not want in the near future to miss having Phil Mendelson on the Council, and nor should you.”
Read the whole statement after the jump:
Wake up, Washington! A political scam is taking place in our city. A recent Washington Post poll shows a little-known “shadow” candidate leading a known and trusted at-large DC Councilmember, Phil Mendelson, by 17 percentage points citywide and among African-American voters by 35 points. This is the same Phil Mendelson who got more votes in the 2006 primary election for the Council than Adrian Fenty got for Mayor, and Phil continues to serve us well.
Why is this new Council candidate, who up until very recently had not raised or spent a dime, leading this respected incumbent? Because he happens to share the same name — Michael Brown — although not the same middle initial or race with a sitting and known African-American at-large Councilmember who, by the way, is supporting Phil Mendelson for this at-large seat.
The poll leader seems like a nice guy (at least I thought so before now) and after all, it’s his name too. So why blame him for the confusion? Because it has become apparent that he is purposely deceiving voters by not showing who he really is. If he is well meaning, he should have run a real campaign from the beginning and he should have put his middle initial on the ballot as he did in his 2006 election for Shadow Senator. He also should have put up posters, sent out mailings, and/or called press conferences to inform voters and clear up this confusion, and then run on his own merits.
But he didn’t. He could still do that and I hope that he will, but now the time is growing short. Of course, he is entitled to run, and he is entitled to run his campaign any way he pleases. He is also entitled to win. But he is not entitled to perpetuate a scam, cause such confusion and perhaps cause a true injustice to occur in our city.
Regardless, the candidate who should win is Phil Mendelson. Phil represents the characteristics we should all value in our elected officials. He is honest, smart, honorable, courageous, hardworking, and ethical.
People say to me practically every day in the last 20 months that they miss me on the Council. I’m speaking up today because I do not want in the near future to miss having Phil Mendelson on the Council, and nor should you.
So Wake Up, Washington. Don’t be fooled. We are being played. So let’s stop the scam before it’s too late.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery