Mendelson becomes interim D.C. Council chair

Orange’s heated bid for No. 2 nixed

continued from page 1

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Mr. Orange said at the John A. Wilson Building he plans to run for the chairman’s seat — he is also up for re-election to his at-large seat — although he offered less definitive answers to reporters who asked him about the November election moments later.

Mr. Orange had pitched his potential partnership with Mr. Mendelson in the interim as a sign of unity among Democrats and “good symbolism for this council.” He did not always refer to Mr. Brown by name, but called him “an independent that has some issues.”

Mr. Orange also pointed to recent news columns that highlighted Mr. Brown’s past mistakes, including failing to pay taxes, violating campaign-finance rules in the 1990s and pushing an ill-fated attempt last year for an online gambling program through the city’s lottery system.

For his part, Mr. Brown said he has taken responsibility for his past and would not trade barbs with his fellow members.

“At some point, positivity has to rise up over negativity,” he said.

Council member Jim Graham, Ward 1 Democrat, successfully moved to split the resolution so that interim chairman and the pro-tem position would be selected individually. He said he made the motion so Mr. Mendelson could enjoy unanimous support from his colleagues without interference from the pro-tem debate.

Mr. Mendelson supported Mr. Brown as his No. 2 on the council.

“I mean no ill to Mr. Orange, but I like Michael Brown. I’ve worked well with him,” Mr. Mendelson said.

Shouting at times, Mr. Orange challenged his 10 fellow Democrats on the dais to send him to the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., as part of a unified team of party leadership and not “make me look like an idiot.”

Mr. Orange even compared himself to a popular Philippine boxer who lost a recent bout, despite widespread criticism that judges should have awarded him the victory.

“Looks like a [Manny] Pacquiao moment,” Mr. Orange said, arguing he is the most qualified option for pro tem. “I’m the best. I’m the best.”

Council member Yvette M. Alexander, Ward 7 Democrat, eventually softened the tone of the debate by chastising her colleagues for their “backbiting and foolishness” and the hypocrisy of relying on media accounts to promote themselves and disparage others.

“When it’s about us, maybe it’s not so right … . We have to stop this behavior,” Ms. Alexander said,

Council member David A. Catania, at-large independent, reminded his colleagues that the chairman pro-tem position is “largely ceremonial.”

Ultimately, Mr. Orange could only get three of his colleagues to support an amendment he proposed, which would have replaced Mr. Brown’s name on the resolution with his own.

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