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Mendelson becomes interim D.C. Council chair

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Council member Jim Graham, Ward 1 Democrat, successfully moved to split the resolution so that interim chairman and the pro-tem position would be selected individually. He said he made the motion so Mr. Mendelson could enjoy unanimous support from his colleagues without interference from the pro-tem debate.

Mr. Mendelson supported Mr. Brown as his No. 2 on the council.

“I mean no ill to Mr. Orange, but I like Michael Brown. I’ve worked well with him,” Mr. Mendelson said.

Shouting at times, Mr. Orange challenged his 10 fellow Democrats on the dais to send him to the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., as part of a unified team of party leadership and not “make me look like an idiot.”

Mr. Orange even compared himself to a popular Philippine boxer who lost a recent bout, despite widespread criticism that judges should have awarded him the victory.

“Looks like a [Manny] Pacquiao moment,” Mr. Orange said, arguing he is the most qualified option for pro tem. “I’m the best. I’m the best.”

Council member Yvette M. Alexander, Ward 7 Democrat, eventually softened the tone of the debate by chastising her colleagues for their “backbiting and foolishness” and the hypocrisy of relying on media accounts to promote themselves and disparage others.

“When it’s about us, maybe it’s not so right … . We have to stop this behavior,” Ms. Alexander said,

Council member David A. Catania, at-large independent, reminded his colleagues that the chairman pro-tem position is “largely ceremonial.”

Ultimately, Mr. Orange could only get three of his colleagues to support an amendment he proposed, which would have replaced Mr. Brown’s name on the resolution with his own.

Council member Tommy Wells, Ward 6 Democrat, was among them despite questions surrounding a series of money orders that Mr. Orange received in 2011 from the network of donors around Jeffrey Thompson, a prolific political donor whose home and offices were raided by the FBI in March.

“He hasn’t been convicted of anything,” Mr. Wells said after the meeting, noting almost every member of the council has accepted bundled campaign contributions and it was the “wrong time” to support Mr. Brown in light of his past problems.

“But in the end,” he said, I will support the leadership.”

Mr. Wells eventually voted for Mr. Brown on Mr. Mendelson’s ticket after it was clear that Mr. Orange’s bid would not succeed.

About the Author

Tom Howell Jr.

Tom Howell Jr. covers politics for The Washington Times. He can be reached at

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