- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 14, 2011

After spirited budget talks and scandals du jour emanating from City Hall in recent weeks, D.C. Council members have a summer recess to relax, barbecue and, in one case, show off a cocktail.

But five of them can use the time to save their seats ahead of primary elections that for the first time will be held in April, instead of September.

They are Jack Evans, Ward 2 Democrat; Yvette M. Alexander, Ward 7 Democrat; Marion Barry, Ward 8 Democrat; Muriel Bowser, Ward 4 Democrat; and Vincent B. Orange Sr., at-large Democrat.

Michael A. Brown, an at-large member, will go directly to the November ballot because he is an independent.

With the primary moved up by five months, the summer respite will likely go from a last-ditch effort to a get-out-the-vote campaign.

“It’s just a jump-start,” said Ms. Alexander, noting fundraising can get under way at this point. “This will be different.”

Asked if the recess poses an opportunity, Mr. Evans he’s already begun his campaign despite facing no apparent competition.

“So yes,” he said, but added, “It’s not as urgent.”

Mr. Evans took a moment on Thursday to honor the “Rickey” — a mix of gin or bourbon whiskey, lime and sparkling water — at the J.W. Marriott as the District’s official drink.

He said the cocktail used to bring 19th century congressmen together during breaks in the hottest months of the year, breaking up the “gridlock” that still exists on Capitol Hill today.

Mr. Evans, Ms. Bowser and Mr. Orange are among council members who haven’t been tainted by recent allegations of wrongdoing, a pall that could put all incumbents on notice.

“I don’t think that we’re in such a situation,” said Council member Mary M. Cheh, Ward 3 Democrat, who is not up for re-election in 2012. “I don’t sense (recent allegations) made for a groundswell. I think people will look at each race.”

Mr. Evans, the longest serving council member, at 20 years and counting, said his team has held several fundraisers, attended parades and raised about $100,000. The campaign opened up a headquarters at 14th Street and Rhode Island Avenue Northwest, right next to Caribou Coffee.

Across the Anacostia River, in Ward 7, Ms. Alexander is ramping up her campaign by holding a fundraiser later this month at Mayor Vincent C. Gray’s house, according to the Washington City Paper.

Sources in her ward told The Washington Times they met recently to discuss their disappointment with Ms. Alexander’s handling of ward redistricting and whether a replacement is needed.

Her main opposition so far appears to be Ron Moten, the outspoken leader of Peaceholics and ally of former Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, who has indicated his intentions to run.

In Ward 4, Ms. Bowser downplayed the impact of the recess on the upcoming primary, but noted, “I can tell you we will be working on campaign issues over the recess.”

Meanwhile, Mr. Orange finds himself in a unique position. Elected just three months ago by special election and appointed chairman of a new committee on small business, he must turn around and protect his seat next year.

As for the recess, he said, “It definitely gives me time to think about that.”

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