- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 11, 2008

Republican Patrick Mara said Wednesday he defeated 16-year incumbent Carol Schwartz in the D.C Council primary by securing key endorsements and running a relentless door-to-door campaign focused on fiscal responsibility and education choice.

“I’m excited because I spent the entire summer getting to know the residents,” said Mr. Mara, at-large Republican. “I think the most important thing is continuing this message of fiscal responsibility.”

The D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics said Mr. Mara won with 60 percent of the votes in the election Tuesday, which stretched into the next morning and was clouded by an unusually large number of write-in votes for the seats of Mrs. Schwartz and Ward 2.

Roughly 1,500 write-ins were recorded in each race, and candidates waited outside of the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics office until after midnight while the problem was resolved.

Agency spokesman Dan Murphy said Wednesday that a memory cartridge in a voting machine at Precinct 141 “caused vote totals to be duplicated into multiple races” and that officials were still investigating.

D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, Democrat, said he has asked D.C. Acting Attorney General Peter Nickles to look into the matter but is not asking for a formal investigation.

“The mayor definitely wants to make sure the election process in November runs as smoothly as possible,” said administration spokeswoman Mafara Hobson.

Mr. Mara said he expects to align with three council members — David Catania, at large independent; Jack Evans, Ward 2 Democrat; and Marion Barry, Ward 8 Democrat.

He sees Mr. Catania as the council’s watchdog, admires Mr. Evans’ fiscal responsibility and agrees with Mr. Barry on school choice for parents, though he disagrees with the veteran politician on several issues.

Mr. Mara also expects to start working immediately with the D.C. Republican Committee, which endorsed Mrs. Schwartz.

Mr. Mara would be the lone Republican if he wins the general election against independent challengers.

D.C. law requires at least one at-large seat to be held by a member of a minority party. Democrats outnumber Republicans 10 to 1 in the District.

Mrs. Schwartz, who was seeking her fourth consecutive term and fifth overall, acknowledged her support in the business community had been weakened by her push to approve a bill that requires businesses to give workers sick days even if they work part time.

“If I go down, I’ll be proud to go down on that” bill, she said Friday.

Mrs. Schwartz could not be reached Wednesday for comment.

With 65 percent of the vote, Mr. Evans returns to his fifth consecutive term on the 13-member council.

Challenger Cary Silverman, president of the Mount Vernon Square Neighborhood Association, said he was “encouraged and disappointed” by the loss.

“We didn’t make it over the goal post but we brought up some issues that are important to people,” he said.

Mr. Silverman, who anticipated being out muscled financially by Mr. Evans, mounted an aggressive grass-roots campaign to get votes from residents who think Mr. Evans has become ineffective.

In Ward 8, Mr. Barry won 77 percent of the votes against main challengers Charles Wilson and Sandra Seegars. The former D.C. mayor will be serving his second consecutive term and fourth overall.

Council members Muriel Bowser, Ward 4 Democrat, and Yvette Alexander, Ward 7 Democrat, also won easily in their respective races for their first full terms on the council.

The council members filled seats vacated last year by Mr. Fenty and council Chairman Vincent C. Gray, both Democrats.

Kwame Brown, at-large Democrat, was unopposed in the primary, but will likely face several challengers in November’s general election.

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