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With Kwame Brown Gone, D.C. Council Will Pick Interim Chairman On June 13

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With Kwame Brown gone, a new era begins for the D.C. Council. | AP

WASHINGTON -- Now that Kwame Brown (D) has stepped down from the chairmanship of the District of Columbia Council following being charged with one count of federal bank fraud, who is in control of D.C.'s local legislative branch?

Wednesday night, the office of D.C. Councilmember Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3), confirmed that the council's president pro tem was the acting chair.

In a statement released Wednesday, Cheh, a George Washington University law professor, said:

I want to reassure everyone that the work of the Council will continue uninterrupted. We will move forward focused on the business the people elected us to do.

Cheh will call a special meeting of the council on June 13, where members will select a new interim chairman and interim pro tem among the four at-large members -- Michael Brown (I), David Catania (I), Phil Mendelson (D) and Vincent Orange (D) -- as is called for in the Home Rule Act.

As Washington City Paper dissects:

Neither Catania nor Orange is overwhelmingly popular with colleagues; Brown has occasionally indicated that he'd like to be mayor one day, and the District's pols are unlikely to want to give him a boost by putting him in the city's second highest-ranking office until November. (Not to mention that the chairman would become mayor if Mayor Vince Gray were to wind up leaving office early for any reason.)

Which leaves Mendo in charge.

The Washington Post editorial board said it favored Mendelson as interim chairman. And Post columnist Robert McCartney said that Mendelson would be the smart choice, too:

Mendelson has been on the council for 14 years and is well-known throughout the city. He probably will get the interim job mainly because he doesn’t offend anybody.

That’s no recipe for a strong chairmanship, but putting Mendelson in place would allay concerns that a power vacuum could develop. Remember that the council chairman is next in line to the mayoralty, at a time when the mayor, too, is under serious federal investigation.

A special election to fill the D.C. Council chairmanship is expected to be called for November.

Let the race begin ...

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