Sulaimon Brown and Vince Gray: The entire story

Every campaign has them — hangers-on with no electoral prospects whatsoever. Their game is to fashion some rhetoric, crack a few jokes at campaign forums, and generate some attention.

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Sulaimon Brown
(Photo: Jay Westcott)

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By that measure, 2010 D.C. mayoral candidate Sulaimon Brown has to be the most successful ankle-biting candidate in the history of D.C. politics. He secured just north of 200 votes in primary balloting. He made little contribution to the political conversation.

Yet as he staked out his spot at candidate forums last year, he built just enough of a relationship with eventual victor Vince Gray to become the centerpiece in one of the juiciest mayoral scandals since "niggardly."

In a news conference yesterday afternoon, Mayor Gray asked for various investigations into how Brown leveraged his mind-meld with the Gray camp into a six-figure position with the new administration, despite a shaky background and puerile campaign-trail behavior.

It's not clear what those investigations will turn up, beyond what the Washington Post reported in its Sunday editions (i.e., a highly dysfunctional telephonic and text-message relationship between Gray and Brown, culminating in cushy employment for the latter).

But what's beyond dispute is that all this publicity is bad news for rival Browns. Chuck Brown, Michael D. Brown, Michael A. Brown, Kwame Brown — all these bona fide Browns are going to have to fight for their spot in the D.C. conversation.

And as that contest plays out, we review, step by step, how Sulaimon has become the Brown of the moment in the District of Columbia.

Step 1: Brown attacks Fenty

Politics is a contact sport, but it has its limits. Look at how Gray and Fenty attacked each other: Fenty said Gray's time at the head of the Department of Human Services displayed poor management skills. Gray said Fenty was dismissive of city residents and engaged in cronyism. All of this was fair game.

Beyond fair game were Brown's attacks. At an August forum in Ward 8 during the campaign, Brown questioned whether or not Fenty loved his parents. Fenty got emotional in his response:

"We’ve had a lot of debates. I've been attacked a lot by this candidate over here. I've never responded, but I would just ask all of my people running for mayor, all the other candidates who are running, he just said he doesn't know whether I respect my parents. At some point, you all, we're crossing the line. Somebody says that, we don't need to go there in this campaign. I love my parents just like everybody else. To me, that goes over the line.”

Fenty asked for an apology, a move that only enhanced the profile of this meager candidate. Brown didn't care. “I don’t regret saying it,” Brown said. “Not one bit.”

Furthermore, Brown — a one-time Fenty volunteer — didn't just attack Fenty. He also heaped praise on Gray, telling voters to cast their ballots for the then council chairman.

Step 2: Brown runs out of money

After working as an UDC police officer until 2005, Brown caught on with various accounting firms. Those jobs ended in December 2008, according to his application to the Gray administration.

View Brown's resume on Scribd

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