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DeAfternoon DeBonis: Aug. 31, 2010

TODAY IS AUGUST 31, 2010 -- 14 DAYS UNTIL PRIMARY DAY

Two weeks to go, and there's more results from The Washington Post poll this morning: Kwame Brown has a "commanding double-digit lead" over Vincent Orange in the race for council chairman, Ann Marimow reports. But the real news is this: "[L]ongtime incumbent Phil Mendelson (D-At Large) is trailing the District's lesser-known shadow senator, Michael D. Brown. ... Brown, a late entry into the race who had raised no money as of the Aug. 10 campaign finance filing deadline, leads Mendelson 38 percent to 21 percent among Democratic voters and is receiving strong support from African Americans. Seven percent of Democrats favor a third candidate, Clark Ray, the former D.C. Parks and Recreation director. Among likely voters, Brown is clearly ahead of Mendelson, 41 percent to 29 percent." Ann calls the numbers a "significant hurdle" for Mendo, who must now engage in a breakneck effort to explain to voters that this Michael Brown is not the Michael Brown they're thinking of.

A NOTE TO READERS -- Because the last two weeks before this election are going to be, um, busy, I'm going to be scaling back DMDB a bit. You'll get the same exhaustive linking, but there will be seeing more "small plates" and less "main course."

AFTER THE JUMP -- Early voting begins smoothly -- Poll reactions rolls in -- An urbanist's Fenty disillusion -- VO wants Kwame campaign accounts investigated -- Former DYRS official strikes back at critics -- Big G is not fired

*** MAIN COURSE ***

MORE ON AT-LARGE NUMBERS -- "Mendelson, who leads the council's Public Safety and the Judiciary Committee, has until recently run a low-key campaign -- one paid campaign aide and $12,000 in expenses during the two-month period that ended Aug. 10, despite raising more than $200,000. But in recent weeks Mendelson has shown he is taking seriously the threat from Michael D. Brown. The incumbent has tried to overcome the apparent confusion among voters by distributing fliers that include photos of the two Browns: Michael A., who is black, and Michael D., who is white. A Mendelson mailing sent last week includes a "voter alert" with a photo and message from Michael A., who is not on the ballot this year and has endorsed Mendelson. According to the poll, Michael D. Brown scores highest among African Americans: 49 percent of black Democrats say they would vote for him, compared with 14 percent for Mendelson. Among white Democrats, Mendelson's lead comes from those who are age 50 and up, with younger whites splitting about evenly between the two, and more than one-third of all white Democrats saying they are undecided." Ann spoke to two poll respondents who said they were confused about the Browns.

VOTING BEGINS -- Early voting began yesterday, with 1,094 voters casting ballots in a relatively uneventful process. With help from my colleagues, I wrapped up the day's political events. TBD covered the first day of voting as well. WRC-TV has video of Mayor Adrian Fenty campaigning Monday morning -- you can put your arm down now, Mr. Mayor. The Washington Times reports that "some voters are concerned about the scope of election-law changes made this year and the possibility of tampering." And, yes, WRC-TV and the Gray campaign have video of a Fenty staffer's antics disrupting a Vincent Gray news conference. The Examiner's Freeman Klopott notes that Fenty's machine "was out in force Monday -- an in-your-face, unrelenting rally of 'four more years' mixed in with chants of 'test scores up, crime going down.' Vans with green Fenty stickers slapped on their sides were a steady presence as they rolled up to One Judiciary Square to drop voters off."

POLL REACT -- A political analyst tells WTTG-TV: "People seem to want typical politicians. ... They want somebody who is going to bring a lot of people into the decision making process. They want somebody who is going to go to the community meetings and kiss babies and talk to the ministers. That's an important part of being a politician and that's an art that it seems Adrian Fenty has not perfected and Vince Gray seems to be beating him out on that." WAMU-FM's Patrick Madden says The Post's polling "is changing the dynamics" of the mayor's race, quoting Fenty: "One of the things that is going to happen now, is that the dynamic shifts from me being the incumbent and the front-runner to my opponent now being a front-runner, is that he is going to have to answer questions that he didn't have to about his record." Gray answers: "I think that everything that possibly could have been talked about, has been talked about. I have enjoyed being a public servant and I have done it with integrity."

HOW FENTY LOST ALPERT -- Greater Greater Washington's David Alpert explains his own Fenty disillusionment: "By all rights, I should love Adrian Fenty. He's aligned with me on most policy issues. However, I don't love him. Why? Maybe it's the way he seems to show contempt for the legislature, even when they try to work with him. Maybe it's the way he has an attorney general who stonewalls anyone who asks questions about anything. Maybe it's the way he just refused to implement the Inclusionary Zoning law for two years. Or maybe it's the way that whenever he's personally involved in something instead of leaving it to his people, it's been for the worse. ... Fenty argues that the role of the Mayor is just to hire "A+ people." Maybe so. And if Fenty basically spent all his time on vacation, or doing photo ops, and never paid attention to actual governing, and also fired Peter Nickles, he'd be a great mayor. But is there something wrong with voting for someone you actually wish were essentially replaced with a cardboard cutout? Thinking the government is just fine, except for the head? What does that say, exactly?"


*** SMALL PLATES ***

Orange wants officials to scrutinize Kwame Brown's 2004 and 2008 campaign finance records -- including approximately $73,000 in allegedly "missing" money (D.C. Wire, Loose Lips)

A Jim Graham campaign poll has Graham way ahead -- also in Ward 1: Fenty leads Gray slightly, Mendo trails Brown [UPDATE, 1:50: Apologies, confused this poll with Graham's earlier polling.] (D.C. Wire, Capital Land)

Former DYRS honcho David Muhammad strikes back at the agency's critics: "We were constantly accused by a small vocal group of 'coddling criminals.' ... Critics continually looked for evidence that the reforms were failing, seizing on exceptional cases to 'prove' their point. Though these cases sometimes had little to do with DYRS and were statistically insignificant, the critics tried to convince the public otherwise. ... I leave Washington, D.C., happy and proud of the great work we did, though I am also concerned because there remains much work to do. (New America Media via the Examiner)

Washington isn't close to being "post-racial" yet, Petula Dvorak says (The Post)

Harry Jaffe: There's no "plan," Stan (the Examiner)

AEI's Rick Hess explains what a Fenty loss would mean to education reform here: "[T]he popular question of the moment is: 'Would a Gray victory offer a chance to build on what [Michelle Rhee] has done, while soothing the rough edges?' I've heard this query from at least a half-dozen reporters, civic leaders, and self-styled reformers of late. The historical record suggests that the clear answer is 'no.' If Rhee leaves under duress after a little more than three years and hands off to someone brought in as a conciliator, it's safe to say that much of the good that she's accomplished will be unraveled." (Education Week)

Settle down y'all: Big G isn't fired. "We do not want on-air talent to endorse political candidates over our radio station because we are not in the business of choosing winners and losers," says KYS program manager. (D.C. Wire, WKYS-FM)

Post pollsters dig deeper into the numbers: "Put simply, style and personal qualities give the chairman the edge in this race." (Behind the Numbers)

What HP's Mark Hurd and Adrian Fenty have in common (Scott Eblin)

Leadership coach: "The leadership lesson from Fenty's reign is obvious: Isolating yourself from the people and listening to advisers whose interests are not aligned with your vision can jeopardize your career." (On Success)

Marion Barry's chief of staff sends an e-mail from her council account to endorse shadow representative Nate Bennett-Fleming. That's a no-no. (D.C. Wire)

Accountability burn! (Post letter)

Huzzah: The convention-center-hotel lawsuits are over, which means we may soon have a convention-center hotel (Capital Business)

"Stuff White People Like: The Wire, Adrian Fenty" (DCist)

"[Roger Clemens] is the latest in a long list of high-profile figures who have found themselves in the Prettyman courthouse on Constitution Avenue. The others include Watergate felons, would-be presidential assassin John Hinckley, former Washington mayor Marion Barry (jailed for cocaine possession), and a parade of witnesses, including Hillary Rodham Clinton and Monica Lewinsky, in President Clinton's impeachment case." (Boston Globe)

Gray says he's hesitant about incorporating Circulator and streetcars into Metro (Loose Lips)

Gray's sit-down with the City Paper didn't do much to move Jason Cherkis off the fence (Loose Lips)

Klopott: "[T]he incumbent does not a good underdog make" (Capital Land)

City cop charged with murder pleads guilty (The Post)

In case you were wondering why the editorial board saw our poll results before you did (TBD)

Franklin School's not a good spot for a UDC campus (Housing Complex)

David Catania's "sign within a sign within a sign" (Loose Lips)

Kevin Chavous stumps for school reform in Louisiana (WVLA-TV)

Bruce Majors is a pretty interesting dude -- a dude who makes dated, sweeping generalizations about the city, but interesting nonetheless (Daily Beast)


*** ON THE MENU ***

TODAY: Fenty breaks ground on Washington Canal Park, cuts ribbon on new Yes! Organic grocery in Ward 7 -- TOMORROW: The Washington Post debate, noon at the Newseum -- TOMORROW: Ward 6 council candidate forum, 7:30 p.m. at Christ Our Shepherd Church, 801 North Carolina Avenue SE -- TOMORROW: groundbreaking on the O Street Market, finally.

By Mike DeBonis  |  August 31, 2010; 12:55 PM ET
Categories:  Morning Mike , The District  
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