On the Ground at the Ward 5 Straw Poll

Barry, Orange talk D.C. primary

By Kriston Capps
|  Tuesday, Aug 24, 2010  |  Updated 1:11 PM EDT
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On the Ground at the Ward 5 Straw Poll

Vincent Orange, candidate for DC City Council Chairman, made a strong event showing with Sean Metcalf.

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Before even a quarter of some 1,000 Ward 5 voters had hit the polls in last night's Ward 5 straw poll, Vince Orange campaign manager Sean Metcalf said that the calendar was working in his boss's favor.

"I think we're right on time," said Metcalf.

He had no way of knowing at that time that Orange would win the straw poll against At-Large Council member and Council Chairman candidate Kwame Brown -- by a margin not quite large enough to secure an endorsement. Metcalf seemed more focused on the before and after the straw poll. He said that the Washington Post endorsement "gave us cover to get our troops out there. And he noted that while Orange was down 40 points to Brown last May, he had since closed the gap. In the August citywide poll by Clarus, Orange trailed Brown by just 10 points (29% to 39%).

Several Ward 5 voters said that the turnout for the straw poll was the greatest in recent memory. Trucks blared music, and candidate Orange erected a Bouncy Castle in his front yard -- which is next door to Michigan Park Christian Church, where the poll was held.

The poll was not without some drama. At one point, a staffer for Ward 5 candidate Delano Hunter raised a ruckus, insisting that Hunter enter the poll -- because incumbent Ward 5 Council member Harry Thomas Jr. was reportedly inside. Hunter followed the staffer in and disappeared.

If a number of the voters appeared to show their support for mayoral candidate Vincent Gray, the Gray campaign declared the election all but over.

"[Mayor Adrian Fenty]'s conceding Ward 5," said mayoral candidate Vince Gray's campaign manager, Adam Rubinson, about an hour into the straw poll. (Incumbent Mayor Fenty did not participate in the straw poll, telling the Post's Mike DeBonis that the Fenty campaign was not invited.) "He approaches the straw poll the same way he has run things for Ward 5 -- by completely ignoring it."

"They want to win with just the white vote. And shenanigans," Rubinson told voters in a line for hot dogs in Vince Orange's backyard.

Ward 8 Council member Marion Barry was on hand to back up the shenanigans charges.

"I supported Adrian Fenty," said Barry, speaking of the candidate's 2006 run against Linda Cropp. "He wined me, dined me, impressed me." Barry said that he made robocalls on the then-candidate's behalf.

But Barry said that Mayor Fenty has since become a "great disappointment," indulging in "cronyism" and a "culture of corruption." Barry said that he supports Gray because he is "more personable" and cares for the District's "vulnerable citizens."

Barry interrupted himself to single out Attorney General Peter Nickles. "Peter's not elected by anybody," he said. "He's confused by his role."

"Fenty manages by press conference. Fenty holds himself way up here," said Barry. "Vince is going to be down here with the people."

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