Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The D.C. Republican Party continued its challenge Monday of the certification of Michael A. Brown’s election to the D.C. Council, saying it violates city law.

Mr. Brown, an independent, won an at-large seat on the council in the November election, along with Democratic incumbent Kwame R. Brown, who is no relation.

The Republican Party filed a petition to the D.C. Court of Appeals, asking it to review the Nov. 24 decision of the D.C. Board of Elections to certify Mr. Brown. The move comes after party members sent a letter Nov. 19 to the election board recommending it not certify the election results for Mr. Brown.

“The D.C. Republican Committee will do everything it can to ensure District election law is followed and the rights of minority parties are protected,” Chairman Robert J. Kabel said.

According to the Home Rule Charter, no more than two at-large members of the council can be affiliated with the majority party. Eleven out of 13 members are Democrats. And besides Kwame Brown’s seat, one other at-large seat is filled by a Democrat, council member Phil Mendelson.

Republicans say the term “affiliation” is more inclusive than just party registration at the time of the election and that Michael Brown, though a registered independent, has not shed his affiliation with the Democratic Party.

Critics have charged that Mr. Brown changed his affiliation because Kwame Brown was heavily favored to win his at-large seat.

Mr. Brown’s ties with the Democratic Party are long-standing ones. His father, Ron Brown, was secretary of commerce in former President Bill Clinton’s first term, and he ran as a Democrat in the 2006 mayoral race and in the 2007 council race for Ward 4.

During his most recent campaign, Mr. Brown spoke in support of President-elect Barack Obama, also a Democrat. Even campaign signs advertised Mr. Brown as an “Independent-Democrat.”

“It’s not a violation that he decided to re-register as an independent; it’s that Michael Brown has never left the Democratic Party,” said Paul Craney, spokesman for city Republicans.

Mr. Brown is expected to replace council member Carol Schwartz, at-large Republican.

Mr. Brown said his voter registration card clearly states “independent” and that he will let the courts sort out the challenge, which he said has “no legal basis.”

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