- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 3, 2013

One of the contenders seeking a citywide seat on the D.C. Council in the upcoming election has found the city’s liberal echo chamber to be a not-so-friendly environment.

Michael A. Brown, a Democrat running in a Democrat-friendly city, unexpectedly dropped out of contention, with his campaign funds being more suitable for a kid’s meal than a whopper-sized war chest.

If his political DNA were that of a generic liberal Democrat or independent, I probably wouldn’t be trying to provoke a discussion on the election.

Indeed, while Democrats and liberals continue to dominate elective D.C. politics, Democrats like Mr. Brown, a former officeholder with incredible name recognition, are finding themselves out of the usual loop, which is being reshaped by a mixed-bag of wannabes.

Voters in the nation’s capital are still as true blue as President Obama, but even D.C. Republicans allergic to red are becoming blue fashionistas so they can blend in.

A Republican is running in the at-large race, and his name is Pat Mara.

He is neither socially nor fiscally conservative, and in fact characterizes himself as a moderate.

Mr. Mara won a seat on the nonpartisan school board in 2010 but has not made a name for himself while there, having preferred to position himself under the radar screen and in sync with Democrats and liberals. He also passed much of that time running in a 2011 D.C. Council special election.

There’s also a former D.C. reporter and think-tank analyst, Elissa Silverman, who lives on Capitol Hill and thinks women’s issues are getting short-shrift.

Ms. Silverman, whose ideas are truly refreshing, includes out-of-the-box proposals such as bolstering round-the-clock day care offerings for police, firefighters, ambulance and health care workers and other blue- and white-collar professionals who do not work bankers’ hours.

Also still in the running are one-note candidate Paul Zukerberg, a criminal defense lawyer who has made a name for himself advocating the decriminalization of marijuana, and Perry Redd, a Statehood Green Party contender whose party makes strides on the pro-environmental front while statehood for the District of Columbia remains a pipe dream.

Matt Frumin, meanwhile, is a sensible family man and former Clinton administration official. But, trust me on this, he will be no more than an also-ran on Election Day, April 23.

And then there’s Anita Bonds.

Ms. Bonds is hardly a stranger to politic machines.

She helped get Marion Barry get elected way, way back when, and ran the D.C. Democratic Party, which, thanks to the Home Rule Charter, is trying to hold on to the majority of elective offices. (Mayor Vincent C. Gray is the titular head of the D.C. Democrats but doesn’t act like it.)

If and when a Democrat steps down, as happened in recent years, it was up to Ms. Bonds‘ party to ensure the vacant seat stayed in the hands of Democrats.

And that is precisely where she now sits, in the Democratic seat vacated by Phil Mendelson after he became council chairman. Mr. Mendelson sits where another Democrat, Kwame R. Brown, perched before he shamed himself out of office.

Back to Michael. A Brown, who has taken his liberal Democratic self out of the race.

In doing so, he has paved the way for Mr. Mara, who could easily be tagged a Republican In Name Only, or Rino, as they say.

With Mr. Brown’s name still on the ballot, the race becomes a crapshoot for Ms. Bonds, who now has to best a ghost candidate, Mr. Brown, and a Republican and others who all speak the same tongue.

So, here we go.

Another election that will produce another shade of blue.

Should I even bother egging Ms. Bonds and Mr. Mara on to shake things up?

• Deborah Simmons can be reached at dsimmons@washingtontimes.com.