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Defeated Michael Brown 'leaning toward' new D.C. Council bid

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Local,DC,Alan Blinder

At-large D.C. Councilman Michael Brown, who suffered a stinging defeat at the polls in November amid persistent questions about his personal conduct, said Wednesday that he is moving toward mounting a comeback bid in April's special election.

"Folks have told me that my work is not done," Brown said in an interview with NewsChannel 8. "We're putting together the apparatus."

But pressed on television and by The Washington Examiner, Brown refused to say concretely whether he would run.

"I'm leaning toward that," said Brown, who placed third in November's "pick-two" election with 15 percent of the vote.

Councilman Vincent Orange won 38 percent, while David Grosso, who will take Brown's seat on the council in January, captured 20 percent in the seven-person race.

If Brown enters the April 23 contest, he would again face a crowded field.

Ten prospective candidates have formally indicated their interest in the race, including incumbent Councilwoman Anita Bonds and local Republican star Patrick Mara.

Brown, who won his seat in 2008 as a self-styled "independent Democrat," said he plans to change his party affiliation to "Democrat" in January.

Although he would not be the incumbent, Brown would still enjoy an advantage of name recognition from recent citywide service.

But a District political observer questioned how much that would boost Brown.

"That is not very helpful in a low-turnout special election. Campaigns that win special elections know how to mobilize voters," said political consultant Chuck Thies. "None of Brown's prior campaigns have been well-organized."

In his most recent campaign, Brown was pounded by reports of personal financial problems, including late rent and mortgage payments.

His troubles multiplied when election regulators nearly kicked him off the ballot after voiding about 1,500 of the signatures he used to qualify for the election.

Brown's campaign was also hamstrung by the reported theft of nearly $114,000 from his campaign account. Brown has blamed his campaign treasurer, who records show is Hakim Sutton, for the thefts, but a long-running police investigation has not resulted in any charges. Brown ousted Sutton in June.

Sutton's lawyer has vigorously denied wrongdoing.

Brown's campaigns have had financial issues on several occasions: In two campaigns, including his 2012 run, auditors found numerous financial irregularities, including tens of thousands of dollars in unreported donations and expenses.

ablinder@washingtonexaminer.com

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