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Mr. McDuffie, Mr. Day and Delano Hunter - who is running a highly visible campaign with his hard-to-miss yellow-and-green signs - each ran against Thomas during the 2010 election.

Mr. McDuffie touts endorsements from AFL-CIO, the SEIU’s Maryland/D.C. State Council, LiUNA Local 657, the D.C. Association of Realtors and a pair of nurses unions, among others. Mr. Hunter has been endorsed by the AFSCME District Council 20 and won the majority of the vote 51 percent in a Ward 5 Democrats straw poll in March. Mr. Day, an accountant, impressed enough people by blowing the whistle on Thomas‘ money-shifting scheme to gain The Washington Post’s endorsement.

But Ms. Henderson and Ms. Gardner maintain that voters in the ward are increasingly interested in selecting a woman to be their voice in city hall. Voters have a choice of four female candidates, with Democrats Rae Zapata and Ruth E. Marshall also on the ballot.

“This is just how we roll,” Ms. Gardner said, noting gender equality comes through “access to power.”