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“Michael Brown is not in a position to defend anything because he hasn’t done anything on the council,” Mr. Grosso retorted Friday.

Mr. Brown told the crowd at a Georgetown forum in early October that he attends city events from morning to night in addition to his daytime duties at city hall.

“I treat this job as a full-time job,” he said.

Fellow incumbent Vincent B. Orange is the Democratic nominee in the left-leaning District, therefore considered a lock for one of the two seats in play — despite lingering issues.

“I’m running like I’m 100 points behind,” Mr. Orange said in an interview Friday.

Mr. Orange’s most notable issue is a series of mysterious money-order donations to his campaign ahead of a 2011 special election from Jeffrey E. Thompson, a city contractor who has been accused of providing $650,000 in unreported funds to Mayor Vincent C. Gray’s 2010 campaign.

Mr. Orange asked the D.C. Office of Campaign Finance to look at the documents and has pointed to multiple audits that clear him of wrongdoing. He said he knew his audits would come back clean, and the issue “is behind me.”

“I’m moving forward,” he said.

While he has not been formally accused of anything, “you have that whole culture of corruption, and you’ve lost trust,” Ms. Beatty said in a Friday debate on WAMU-FM’s Kojo Nnamdi program.

As a Republican, Ms. Beatty attacked the one-party “groupthink” of the council on Friday and has accused Mr. Brown and Mr. Grosso of being Democrats in independents’ clothing. The distinction can be viewed as significant, since the law reserves one of the at-large seats up for grabs for a non-majority-party candidate — in other words, someone who isn’t a Democrat.

Besides Mr. Grosso or Ms. Beatty, other potential new faces on the council include A.J. Cooper, whose candidacy has taken off in recent weeks through high visibility along roadsides, in forums and interviews, and at early-voting sites. Leon Swain Jr., an independent who helped bust up corruption in the city’s taxi industry, and Ann C. Wilcox, the D.C. Statehood Green Party candidate, round out the ballot.

Other races

In Ward 7, Democratic incumbent Yvette M. Alexander faces an energetic challenge from “Civil Rights Republican” Ronald Moten, who made his stamp on the D.C. scene as a leader of the anti-gang Peaceoholics group with backing from former Mayor Adrian M. Fenty.

Mr. Moten has exuded confidence down the stretch, arguing residents’ disappointment with Ms. Alexander’s record will lead to his victory, despite the fact he has an “R” next to his name in the heavily Democratic ward.

“I’m in it to win it,” he said Friday in an interview. “A lot of people are upset. The only thing Yvette Alexander can do is say I’m a Republican … I think I can pull it off.”

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