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Six candidates vie for D.C. Council seat Tuesday

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Local,DC,Eric P. Newcomer,D.C. Council

Voters will decide Tuesday whether they want D.C. Democratic Party Chairman Anita Bonds, a frontrunner in the six-person race, to stay on the D.C. Council.

Seven names will appear on the ballot, although only six candidates remain in the race. Former Councilman Michael Brown dropped out last month, citing family concerns.

The only publicly available poll in the race showed Councilwoman Bonds, who is currently filling the seat on an interim basis, leading the field. The race's lone Republican, Patrick Mara, and former reporter Elissa Silverman, who is a Democrat, followed close behind in that survey of registered voters.

Whichever candidate collects the most votes Tuesday will win the seat, even if no candidate attracts a plurality of voters. There will not be a runoff.

At the close of early voting, 2,984 ballots had already been cast, up by more than 1,000 votes compared to the 2011 special election.

Many political watchers have said that if there were ever a chance for a Republican to earn a spot on the council in the predominantly Democratic city, this is it. Mara picked up an endorsement from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie last weekend. He has also been endorsed by The Washington Examiner, the Washington Post and the Sierra Club.

After Brown's decision to drop out of the race, Bonds was the only African-American Democrat left in the race. Council members have coalesced around her campaign. A majority of council members and two former mayors, Marion Barry and Sharon Pratt, support Bonds. She is a longtime Democratic insider, chairman of the D.C. Democratic Party and a former campaign manager for Barry.

Only one other D.C. Council member, David Grosso, has endorsed another candidate. He threw his support behind Silverman, a policy analyst on leave from the left-leaning D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute and a former Washington Post reporter.

Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Matthew Frumin, an attorney, has raised more money than his opponents but has struggled to stand out in the race. News broke this past weekend that Silverman's campaign had approached Frumin, asking him to drop out of the race. He resisted that appeal and hopes to pull off an upset Tuesday.

Attorney Paul Zukerberg, known for his campaign to decriminalize marijuana in the District, and Statehood Green Party Candidate Perry Redd round out the field. Both candidates picked up only 2 percent of registered voters' support in the Public Policy Polling survey, and neither candidate has received any major endorsements.

A referendum that could give D.C. more power to set its own budget, a measure supported by much of the District's political establishment, will also be on the ballot.

enewcomer@washingtonexaminer.com

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