Vincent Orange will return to the D.C. Council after a five-year absence after narrowly defeating Republican Patrick Mara for the At-Large seat once occupied by Council Chair Kwame Brown.
Orange claimed just over 28 percent of all votes cast, with Mara coming in at close to 26 percent. Sekou Biddle, who was appointed to the seat by the D.C. Democratic State Committee in January, ran third with 20 percent, Bryan Weaver had 13 percent, and Josh Lopez seven percent. Turnout only slightly exceeded 12 percent. (The Post has a good report here.)
There's likely to be any number of narratives tomorrow, but one thing is clear -- Orange won on the strength of his performance in wards 5, 7 and 8, where he claimed between 55 and 66 percent of the vote. He also led in Ward 4, denying Biddle his home base. Mara performed most strongly in Ward 3 with 49 percent of the vote, but also led in ward 2 and 6. Weaver took Ward 1.
Orange, who ran for mayor in 2006 and Council Chair in 2010 against Brown, is known citywide and was able to raise almost three times the amount of money as any of his competitors. Biddle, who defeated Orange in the contested January appointment process, couldn't seem to escape his associations to Brown and Mayor Vince Gray or truly endear himself to voters who saw in Mara a true independent voice for the council. Despite Mara's loss, his strong performance and position on the State Board of Education means that he'll remain an important figure in years to come.
The results aren't final, but Mara has conceded. Orange won't have much time to settle in, though -- he'll face a Democratic primary in April 2012, giving him only a few months before someone jumps in to challenge him.
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