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Mr. Mendelson is in a peculiar spot. One of his opponents is named Michael Brown, an outgoing shadow senator, not Michael A. Brown, the sitting council member. The name confusion forced the hands of Mendelson supporters.

Even Republican Carol Schwartz, herself a former council member, e-mailed the media on Mr. Mendelson’s behalf.

“The confusion will blow up in our face if it s not straightened out,” she said.

Republicans actually in the running should have an easier go.

While the GOP did not field a candidate in the mayor’s race - Mrs. Schwartz was the last to have that distinction - there are four Republicans challenging Democrats in wards 1, 3, 5 and 6. All are running unopposed.

In the at-large contest, two Democrats are battling in a name-recognition race of their own.

After Mr. Gray decided he would not seek re-election, at-large council member Kwame R. Brown decided to run for the chairman’s seat. He faced a stiff challenge from a former council colleague, Vincent Orange, who gave up his seat in 2006 to seek the Democratic nod along with Mr. Fenty. Polls indicated Mr. Brown was the favorite. If he wins, the D.C. Democratic Party will appoint a successor to Mr. Brown, and a special election will be slated for the spring.

The decision by Republicans to not field a mayoral candidate left Mr. Fenty and Mr. Gray in head-to-head battle, as racial divisions in the District and allegations of vote-buying dogged both campaigns in the days leading up to Tuesday’s primaries.

The campaigns slogged on Tuesday to get their supporters to the polls knowing history shows that the Democrat who wins the primary in the overwhelming Democratic city is tantamount to winning the general election in November.