- The Washington Times - Friday, April 13, 2012

Council member Vincent B. Orange has rounded out a full sweep by five Democratic incumbents in the D.C. primary elections, defeating challenger Sekou Biddle by more than 1,700 votes after special ballots were tallied Friday.

Mr. Orange entered the daylong count of about 5,000 absentee and provisional ballots with a lead of just 543 votes — or little more than 1 percent — over Mr. Biddle, who re-emerged on the city’s political scene after serving on the council in an interim capacity from January to April 2011.

In the end, his margin of victory widened to nearly 3 percent of the citywide vote, or 23,719 votes to Mr. Biddle’s 21,973, cruising to victory after a nail-biter on election night.

“While the votes did not go in our favor today, it is clear from today’s results that the majority of residents of the District want and expect more of their leaders than they are getting right now,” Mr. Biddle said in a statement late Friday that congratulated Mr. Orange in his win.

In a brief interview, Mr. Biddle said the ballot-counting appeared sound and he has no plans to call for a recount, especially considering the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics will conduct a routine audit of the election, anyway.

Mr. Biddle lost the at-large seat to Mr. Orange, a former council member from Ward 5, in a special election in April 2011, before launching a rematch bid for the 2012 primary that also featured challengers Peter Shapiro and the Rev. E. Gail Anderson Holness.

Mr. Orange and Mr. Biddle exchanged the lead multiple times while primary ballots were counted on election night. The vote was generally split along the center of the city, with Mr. Biddle enjoying the lion’s share of support in the District’s predominantly white Northwest, while Mr. Orange fared much better in the mostly black wards east of the Anacostia River.

Observers argued Mr. Shapiro, a Chevy Chase resident, eroded some of Mr. Biddle’s base, while acknowledging that Ms. Holness may have taken votes from Mr. Orange as well.

Mr. Biddle faced a challenge in attempting the eclipse Mr. Orange during the final count. But in a message to supporters Thursday, his campaign indicated it was not calling it quits and could use additional donations.

“I don’t know if the math predicts anything,” Mr. Biddle, a former algebra teacher, said before the results came in. “I don’t think there’s any way to make a prediction.

Mr. Orange, meanwhile, said he was more focused on the weekend’s Emancipation Day festivities than the election.

“I’m feeling good, just keeping busy while I wait on the results,” he said Friday afternoon.

Special ballots were scanned and counted at the Board of Elections and Ethics throughout the day, delivering the unofficial results after the close of business because they had to check the final mail delivery Friday afternoon. A margin of less than 1 percent between Mr. Orange and Mr. Biddle would have triggered an automatic recount.

The elections board is scheduled to certify the results Wednesday, after which Mr. Biddle has seven days to request a recount of specific precincts, according to the elections board.

Besides Mr. Orange, four other incumbent council members secured a Democratic nomination April 3 — Jack Evans in Ward 2, Muriel Bowser in Ward 4, Yvette M. Alexander in Ward 7 and Marion Barry in Ward 8.

Final results of the primary elections and a special election May 15 to fill the Ward 5 seat vacated by disgraced lawmaker Harry Thomas Jr. — who will be sentenced May 3 for stealing public funds and filing false tax returns — will lend stability to the council’s roster, at least until general elections in November, while it addresses the fiscal 2013 budget through committee hearings, markups and rounds of votes that stretch to the end of spring.



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