- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Longtime D.C. Council member Carol Schwartz late Tuesday awaited word about whether her political career would come to an end as elections officials counted ballots into the night after record numbers of voters cast ballots in a historic presidential election.

The race for Mrs. Schwartz’s at-large seat was the most notable of six council contests on the ballot, which also saw D.C. voters overwhelmingly choose Democrat Barack Obama for president.

Mrs. Schwartz, a veteran of four terms on the council, was in what many thought would be a tight race with lobbyist Michael A. Brown, a Democrat-turned-independent who ran for mayor in 2006 and sought the Ward 4 council seat in a special election in 2007.

Mrs. Schwartz also faced Patrick D. Mara, who defeated her in the Republican primary in September, forcing her to wage a write-in campaign to hold her seat, one of two seats on the 13-member council reserved for candidates who are not members of the majority party.

Polls closed at 8 p.m., and results of the race were unavailable last night. But with 40 of 143 precincts reporting, Mr. Brown had 17,411 votes, or 22.23 percent. Mr. Mara had 6,518 votes, or 8.32 percent. Voters cast 7,095 write-in votes, or 9.06 percent, the majority presumably for Mrs. Schwartz.

Dan Murphy, spokesman for the D.C. Board of Election and Ethics, said election officials would know overnight how many write-in votes were cast but not for whom they were cast. If the number of write-in votes cast exceeded the number of votes cast for the other candidates, a write-in count would take place Wednesday.

Mrs. Schwartz, who monitored the election results with about two dozen supporters at her campaign headquarters on 12th and U streets in Northwest, was in good spirits last night.

“The whole day has been energizing. I don’t know if that means I’m going to win, but I’m energized,” she said.

A campaign spokesman said Mr. Brown was watching the election results with his family.

The District, in which three-quarters of voters are registered Democrat, was called for Mr. Obama by the Associated Press minutes after the polls closed. Enthusiasm for Mr. Obama’s candidacy in the majority black city is thought to be responsible for what was expected to be unusually high voter turnout among the city’s 476,000 registered voters.

With 40 of 143 precincts reporting, Mr. Obama had 54,597 votes, or 93.83 percent, compared with 3,060 votes, or 5.26 percent, for Republican John McCain.

An Obama presidency is widely thought to be the best chance for the District to win full congressional voting rights. Mr. Obama has said he would support such a measure, while Mr. McCain has said he thinks D.C. voting rights would violate the Constitution.

Daniel Siesser, who waited to vote at the church, said that position figured into his decision to vote for Mr. Obama.

“One thing thats important is to have good rapport between the president and the mayor. I think Obama will bring in good things locally.”

Ann Rosenau said she thought many of the voters who came out to vote for Mr. Obama were less familiar with the local candidates.

“My friends haven’t really been talking about the local elections; it has been overshadowed by the presidential,” she said.

In the other council races, with 40 of 143 precincts reporting, council member Kwame R. Brown, a Democrat, was expected to easily win re-election to his at-large seat with 39,636 votes, or 50.6 percent.

In the Ward 2 race, with five of 14 precincts reporting, four-term incumbent Jack Evans, a Democrat, was leading Republican newcomer Christina Culver. Mr. Evans had 5,855 votes, or 81.55 percent to Ms. Culver’s 1,253 votes, or 17.45 percent.

In Ward 4, Democratic incumbent Muriel Bowser ran unopposed.

In Ward 7, with seven of 24 precincts reporting, Democratic incumbent Yvette M. Alexander had 7,124 votes, or 91.82 percent, and was defeating independent Jimmy Johnson, who had 560 votes, or 7.22 percent.

Former Mayor Marion Barry was expected to easily win re-election in Ward 8. With four of 16 precincts reporting, Mr. Barry had 5,795 votes, or 91.84 percent. Independent Darrell Danny Gaston took 244 votes, or 3.84 percent, and independent Yavocka Young had 242 votes, or 3.84 percent.

D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton was also expected to defeat Statehood Green candidate Maude Louise Hills. With 40 of 143 precincts reporting, Mrs. Norton had 51,098 votes, or 93.23 percent, compared with 3,271, or 5.97 percent, for Mrs. Hills.

Ian Bauder contributed to this report.

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