By K. Levek
D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray has political observers wondering if he will run for reelection in 2014. With a rocky start to the mayor’s seat in 2010, some wonder if he has overcome his many obstacles in the District’s seat of power.
In his recent State of the District address, he spoke about the city’s economic growth over the past three years. A surplus in the city’s budget in the upwards of $400 million dollars was announced, crime is at an all time low and development is continuing to happen across the District. It would seem as if these are favorable conditions for the mayor to run. However, a murky past still looms in the not-to-far distance.
Over the past six months three of Gray’s top aids have plead guilty in connections with Gray’s 2010 mayoral campaign. Even Gray has a looming federal investigation that would seem to implicate him any day now, over controversy that a shadow campaign for Gray paid opposing candidate Sulaimon Brown to publicly trash then Mayor Adrian Fenty. Gray has strayed away from making many public comments about the investigation, but top aides assure it is a concern of his, but even still say he has held several talks with officials high up in his administration about a possibly reelection run in 2014.
Former campaign aides Steve McMahon and Mo Elleithee have even called on Gray to publically address whatever knowledge he had about the shadow campaign, but he has refused to elaborate on the ongoing investigation.
For Gray’s part, if he did decide to run, he would face competition. Councilmembers Tommy Wells (D- Ward 6) and Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4) have both stated their intent to run; with Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) also saying there is a strong possibility that he would join in on the race. There still may be some dark horse who’s secretly eyeing the city’s top spot, but remains unnamed for now.
Gray has tested the feelers, hosting a fundraiser for his 70th birthday and raising over $40,000 for his constituent services fund. However, past campaigners for the mayor, who chose to remain anonymous for job security, state that Gray has lost many of his loyal and most ardent supporters. “He hasn’t done anything for the people who helped him get there [in office].” Many of Gray’s former campaign workers have complained to the local newspapers about his failure to help them secure jobs after he won election and many have just gotten jobs in his administration within the past six months, almost 2 years after he was initially elected.
If he does decide to run, he will likely face the same challenges Fenty faced in his 2010 reelection- pubic trust. Although Gray has shown results in his “One City” campaign through the District over the past three years, his political and moral compass have seemed to falter, due to his campaign scandal and the unraveling of aids associated with it.
If there’s anything the Fenty administration taught the city, it’s that results aren’t enough to win a reelection. Public trust and remains a top point of concern for the city’s residents.