One of the biggest political shockers this fall is happening right here in TPMDC’s own backyard, as D.C. Council Chairman Vincent Gray is poised to unseat D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty on Tuesday.
In a Democratic primary race that has a lot to do with race and neighborhood gentrification, the incumbent Fenty has struggled all summer. With the election now just a few days away, Gray leads every poll — even though Fenty is earning all the big newspaper endorsements.
Fenty admitted in an interview on WTOP yesterday he’s phoned the White House to ask for his buddy President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama to formally back him and come out on the campaign trail or appear in mailings. But TPMDC is hearing the president won’t be saying a peep before Tuesday — and so is Fenty.
“Obviously, we would be in touch with the White House about whatever support they could give and I think they will do as much as they can,” Fenty told WTOP. “I have personally reached out. … For lots of reasons I don’t think that’s going to happen.”
Fenty supporters like to highlight one big endorsement Gray has earned — from Councilmember and infamous former Mayor Marion Barry. But not all D.C. voters take such a dim view of Barry.
Washington City Paper’s Mike Madden explains the recent poll showing Grey crushing Fenty 50%-39%:
Moved here a few years ago? You probably take a dim view of Marion Barry. Lived in D.C. at the height of Barry’s power? You may think he still deserves respect as “Mayor for Life.” Long-term Washingtonians are more fed up with the city’s lack of voting rights, more faithful to the Redskins, prouder of the District’s black majority.
The poll confirms what political candidates take as gospel: newer arrivals to D.C. are whiter, younger, and a little better educated than the city as a whole. They’re likelier to have children attending D.C. Public Schools, in the midst of an election that’s turning into a referendum on Michelle Rhee’s reforms. And they’re Fenty’s most devoted voters. Unfortunately for him, they’re also outnumbered; 84 percent of our survey respondents have lived here at least 10 years.
Indeed, Fenty has tried to campaign on Rhee, who has indicated she’s unlikely to stick around if the mayor loses. He’s told voters while stumping on the city’s streets that Rhee and police chief Cathy Lanier have been key victories during his four-year tenure. His detractors frequently say Fenty seems to have lost touch with the city’s residents, especially in the poor black neighborhoods where he was once hailed.
Fenty has acknowledged he has rubbed some people the wrong way during his tenure, speaking straight to the camera in his latest television ads and basically apologizing. The City Paper’s Fenty endorsement comes with this headline: “Adrian Fenty: The Jerk D.C. Needs.”
Their poll coverage comes along with this nifty graphic:
Because so many of the city’s residents are Democrats, the primary is considered more important than the general election. Fenty won every ward of the city in 2006 to defeat council chairman Linda Cropp in the general election.