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Mendelson camp ponders ways to address Michael Brown confusion

This much we know: Phil Mendelson has a "Michael Brown" problem.

As I've mentioned before, name confusion between Michael D. Brown, who wants an at-large council seat, and Michael A. Brown, who already has an at-large council seat, is very real. Of four straw polls held since Michael D. entered the race, incumbent Mendelson has won three, but with Brown polling much higher than his late-breaking, lightly financed campaign would indicate. Then, last night, Brown shocked city political observers by narrowly beating Mendelson in Ward 5.

And keep in mind: The universe of straw poll voters, it's fair to assume, is politically savvier than the world at large.

"He's not just going to go away," says Andy Litsky, Mendelson's campaign manager. So that has the Mendelson camp figuring out how to tell as many voters as possible that the Michael Brown that's on the ballot may not be the Michael Brown they know.

"There are an array of arrows in the quiver that are going to be deployed," Litsky says.

Without discussing specifics, Litsky says the Mendelson campaign will be sending multiple pieces of mail to Democratic voters, plus "online voter education" and a social media campaign. And, he says, the campaign will be relying on "earned media" -- meaning honest-to-god paid journalists like yours truly -- to help clear up the confusion.

"It's not just Phil Mendelson's problem. Frankly, this is of much larger concern," Litsky says. "We have the potential to elect a man who's a cipher, an unknown."

Litsky says the Mendelson camp is already coordinating with other campaigns to make sure polling places across the city, including early voting stations, will have folks handing out Brown identifying information.

Mendelson had such literature in Ward 8 last Saturday, complete with photographs that Brown the candidate is a white guy, while council member Brown is a black guy.

But Litsky says the difference goes deeper than race. "This is not the Michael Brown that people think," he says. "It's thin Michael Brown versus portly Michael Brown. It's shadow senator Michael Brown versus council member Michael Brown. There is a difference."

By Mike DeBonis  |  August 24, 2010; 6:33 PM ET
Categories:  DCision 2010 , Phil Mendelson , The District  
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Comments

The comments in this column and from the Mendelson camp regarding whether the voters of DC are sophisticated enough to know who they are voting for when it comes to his worthy opponent, Michael Brown, continue to amaze me. The Michael Brown that is running against Phil is and always has been a Democrat whereas the current city council member changed his party affiliation to Independent so he could get elected! Perhaps Phil should be concentrating on why he is losing a majority of the votes in straw poles rather then attempting to obfuscate his shortcomings by blaming his lack of support on the naivety of the voters in DC? I submit that the voters in DC are well aware of what they are doing and are simply looking for a change.

Posted by: Samorpye | August 29, 2010 2:11 PM | Report abuse

The comments in this column and from the Mendelson camp regarding whether the voters of DC are sophisticated enough to know who they are voting for when it comes to his worthy opponent, Michael Brown, continue to amaze me. The Michael Brown that is running against Phil is and always has been a Democrat whereas the current city council member changed his party affiliation to Independent so he could get elected! Perhaps Phil should be concentrating on why he is losing a majority of the votes in straw poles rather then attempting to obfuscate his shortcomings by blaming his lack of support on the naivety of the voters in DC? I submit that the voters in DC are well aware of what they are doing and are simply looking for a change.

Posted by: Samorpye | August 29, 2010 2:12 PM | Report abuse

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