Ward 1 board of education member Pat Mara has become the first Republican to join the increasingly crowded field to fill the at-large D.C. Council seat vacated by Kwame Brown when he became council chairman.

Mara knocked off former Councilwoman Carol Schwartz in the 2008 Republican primary and although he didn't win a council seat that year, he gathered 37,447 votes. That's 20,000 more votes than D.C. voters cast for then-Republican presidential candidate Senator John McCain.

Other candidates who have announced their intentions for the council seat include:

  • Sekou Biddle. The Democrat already occupies the seat as the interim at-large councilman selected by the D.C. Democratic State Committee. He has the backing of Council Chairman Brown. With that comes plenty of cash, but he might also carry the baggage of winning an insiders' election.
  • Bryan Weaver. The Ward 1 activist who ran unsuccessfully against Ward 1 Councilman Jim Graham last summer brings a grassroots campaign  to the mix. He announced his candidacy Wednesday morning.
  • Josh Lopez. A supporter of former Mayor Adrian Fenty who fought a losing write-in battle for the fallen mayor following Fenty's loss to Vince Gray in September's Democratic primary. So far, he's the only representative of the Fenty-believers to enter the campaign, although former District Department of Transportation Director Gabe Klein is pondering the idea.
  • Wayne Dickson. A Democrat and real estate broker who led the effort to bring Whole Foods to P Street in Logan Circle is close with Ward 2 Councilman Jack Evans. At 72, he's positioning himself as pro-business, low-tax Democrat.
  • Vince Orange. The former councilman and Pepco executive was beaten by Kwame Brown in the race to be council chairman. Orange pushed hard for Democratic State Committee's backing to fill the at-large seat on an interim basis, but lost in the third round of voting to Biddle.