D.C. Republican Party Loses Lawsuit over Winner of City Council Election

On December 31, the D.C. Court of Appeals (which is not the same as the U.S. Court of Appeals in D.C.) ruled that Michael A. Brown, not Patrick Mara, is the winner of the District’s “at-large” seat that is always reserved for someone other than a Democrat. UPDATE: here is the 5-page decision.

D.C. provides that voters may vote for two candidates for City Council-at-Large, and each party may only run a single nominee. This was meant to keep the Democrats from winning all seats.

Michael A. Brown had been a prominent Democratic Party activist and had voted in this year’s Democratic presidential primary. But he had changed his registration to “independent” in May 2008, and he filed petitions to be on the November ballot as an independent. He got the most votes of all non-Democrats. Republicans had sued, claiming that Republican nominee Patrick Mara should be declared the winner since Brown was not a bona fide independent. But the Court ruled that such “real world” political associations are irrelevant.


D.C. Republican Party Loses Lawsuit over Winner of City Council Election — 8 Comments

  1. Wow! So party registration (or not) don’t constitute the “real world”? Why have it, then? Is there a link to where I can read the ruling?

  2. I, too, would like to read this opinion. Doesn’t it make the D.C. law ineffective as a practical matter? That wouldn’t be a huge loss, because the provision is a clumsy substitute for proportional representation anyway. Nonetheless, in the absence of PR it is a substitute, so the loss is not trivial.

    The law could be amended to specify that you must not have been registered with another party (or any party if you are running as a independent) within the last N months or years.

  3. There is now a link to the decision. The Green Party candidate, David Schwartzman, got 18,596 votes. Michael A. Brown got 71,720. The Republican got 37,447. Two other independents ran. They were Mark H. Long with 14,603, and Dee Hunter with 7,311. Also a write-in candidate and former city council member ran (Carol Swartz), but D.C. wouldn’t count the write-ins, except to announce that there were a total of 39,493 write-ins.

  4. I read the judges decision. Basically they are saying they don’t want to overrule the board of elections interpretation of what an “independent” is.

    This is a nonsensical argument. By any reasonable standard, Michael Brown is a Democrat. The fact that the judges don’t want to overturn the ruling suggests they are more interested in maintaining the political status quo than really upholding the spirit of the law.

    Its a sad day for justice.

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