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With Michael Brown out, D.C. Council at-large race is wide open

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Local,DC,Eric P. Newcomer,Marion Barry,D.C. Council,Vincent Gray,Jack Evans,Muriel Bowser

Reading the tea leaves in the D.C. Council at-large race was already a Herculean task, but after a few recent announcements -- including the decision by former Councilman Michael Brown to drop out of the race -- predicting the outcome to the April 23 special election looks harder than ever.

Tuesday night, former reporter and policy analyst Elissa Silverman picked up an endorsement from at-large Councilman David Grosso, a decision announced in an email blast.

Wednesday morning, Patrick Mara received the endorsement of the Current Newspapers. Mara, the race's only Republican, had already been endorsed by the Washington Post's editorial board and the Sierra Club.

In a news conference Wednesday in Ward 7, Mayor Vincent Gray said he hadn't even heard that Brown left the race, adding that he had no plans to endorse anyone in the race.

"I always support Democrats," Gray said. "I support the Democratic Party."

Besides Mara and Statehood Green Party candidate Perry Redd, the other candidates in the race are all Democrats.

When Brown announced his decision to exit the race for family reasons, he wrote in a statement that he would not be making an endorsement. However, he encouraged voters to pick a Democrat.

What was a seven-person race is now down to six.

Brown's decision to drop out of the contest could give Anita Bonds, the only African-American Democrat remaining in the race a boost and who's currently in the council seat that's up for grabs. But, it's an open question of how many of Brown's potential supporters will switch to Bonds -- especially given the fact that Brown's name will remain on the ballot.

"This is nowhere near a tidal shift in the race," said political analyst Chuck Thies.

For her part, Bonds has picked up a number of notable endorsements over the past few weeks, including from current council members Jack Evans and Muriel Bowser. Councilman and former mayor Marion Barry has been a longtime Bonds supporter. Another former mayor, Sharon Pratt, has also endorsed her.

enewcomer@washingtonexaminer.com

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