The Fray Tracker: Day 14

Washington, D.C. — As the mayoral election between Washington, D.C.'s top two Democratic candidates — Adrian Fenty and Vince Gray — heads into its last weeks, TBD will be tracking away. Herewith, all the controversy, debates, forums, polls, issues, endorsements, statistics and killer quotes we can muster. Find today's coverage here.


Wednesday, Sept. 8, 4:15 p.m., UPDATED 6:00


A new mayoral race poll from Clarus Research Group, the nonpartisan polling firm that brought you the mayoral race poll circa August 2010, shows that Vince Gray leads Mayor Adrian Fenty 45 percent to 38 percent among likely primary voters who are largely divided along racial lines.

In a preview of a poll to be released in their print edition (what a quaint concept) tomorrow, the Washington City Paper released a poll this afternoon showing D.C. Council Chairman Vince Gray with an 11 point lead over incumbent Mayor Adrian Fenty, 50 to 39.

The poll, which was jointly sponsored with WAMU's The Kojo Nnamdi Show, uses robo-calls. Both the Washington Post and Clarus Research Group, which released earlier polls, use human data takers.

The firm that conducted the poll, Public Policy Polling, is "a Democratic firm based in North Carolina that’s been getting some buzz this year for predicting results in other states," City Paper managing editor Mike Madden writes.

The poll was among registered Democrats and has a margin of error +/- 3.5 percent.

Clarus Research Group has another poll coming tonight, but its results are embargoed until 6 p.m.

Tomorrow's City Paper will also contain candidate endorsements.


Wednesday, Sept. 8, High noonish


WTOP's Mark Segraves reports via Twitter that Fenty said he is seeking President Barack Obama's endorsement. Fenty said he doesn't expect Obama to make an appearance for him, but would like a written endorsement.

"I have personally reached out," Fenty told WTOP. "I don't want to get into who I would have talked to for obvious reasons."

Fenty says he asked for endorsements from both First Lady Michelle Obama and President Obama, whom he endorsed in 2007.

TBD has been wondering about the possibility of an Obama endorsement ourselves, so we did a little digging. We contacted the William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum and asked if the former president ever endorsed a local mayoral candidate when he was in office.

As several database searches, we were told in an e-mail that an archives technician couldn't find any evidence of a Clinton endorsement in D.C. The only mayoral endorsement that she located was for Michael Woo of Los Angeles in 1993.

We've contacted both the Fenty and Gray campaigns, but haven't heard back yet. We'll update this post when we do.


Wednesday, Sept. 8, 3:31 p.m.


There's an obvious unanswered question about Vince Gray's policy proposals: how is he going to pay for any of this stuff?

While Gray acknowledged the city's financial difficulties in his speech rolling out his plan on fiscal responsibility and the public trust, he also admitted to reporters afterward that he hadn't looked at the fiscal impact of any of his proposals.

"These are desirability statements," he said, making no promises about when he would deliver on the ideas outlined in the plans.

Gray said he wouldn't definitively rule out raising income or property taxes to pay for more city services, saying the council and regular city residents would need input on any tax plan.


Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2:52 p.m.


DCist gets their second big interview of their birthday week, as Martin Austermulhe grabs a sit-down interview with mayoral front-runner Vince Gray. The most interesting bit? Gray makes it clear his decision to leave a safe spot as council chairman and challenge Fenty was riven by his own frustrations with the mayor.


Wednesday, Sept. 8, 1:22 p.m.


Vince Gray released his plan for “restoring the public trust” at a press conference this morning. Ward 8 Councilmember Marion Barry was in attendance.

The fourth and final policy plan Gray plans to release before the September 14 primary, the public trust plan just as detailed as his earlier plans on education, economic development and public safety. The plan proposes a number of steps to increase government efficiency and open up the activities of the mayor's office.

“I know I’ll have my work cut out for me,” Gray said at the conference, which was held at the Courtyard Marriott in Penn Quarter. “I know I’ll have to repair a public trust badly damaged by my predecessor.”

The irony of Barry endorsing a man who was pledging to restore the public trust wasn’t lost on the audience, and the first question Gray was asked was about the presence of the Mayor-for-Life, whose personal scandals and foibles have signified ineffective District government for decades.

“Mr. Barry has represented himself quite well,” Gray said, adding that every council member was invited to attend the announcement. (Ward 5 Councilmember Harry Thomas, Jr. and At-Large Councilmember Michael A. Brown were also in attendance.) Gray said he shared Barry’s concerns about the way residents east of the Anacostia River were treated by the Fenty administration, and that any mayor needs to listen to and have the support of councilmembers.

At times during the conference, Gray seemed to be seeking the votes of the Wilson Building press corps, attacking the mayor’s “hostile approach to the press.” Gray promised to reinstate weekly mayoral press conferences and increase compliance with the Freedom of Information Act.

On that last bit, Gray’s rhetoric might not match his record. Last week, the Washington Times’ Jeffrey Anderson reported on his fruitless efforts to obtain the council chairman’s mayoral schedule through FOIA. Jason Cherkis of the Washington City Paper said on Twitter that Gray’s office had failed to respond to a FOIA he filed months ago.

“I don’t think we’ve been unresponsive to FOIAs,” Gray said when asked about the discrepancy. “We’ve been quite transparent and open in an unprecedented way.”

Gray pointed to his broadcasts of city council budget hearings as evidence of increased council transparency during his time as chair.


Wednesday, Sept. 8, 11:28 a.m.


As promised, here's Vince Gray's "public trust" plan. You can read the full plan below, but here's a basic overview: open government, transparency, changes to the Attorney General's office, and Gray's favorite word: collaboration.

As we mentioned like two hours ago, @kevinrobillard is at today's press conference. He'll have more upon his return.

Gray-Public Trust Plan


Wednesday, Sept. 8, 9:28 a.m.


Hey sorry we forgot to post this Tuesday. Whoopsies. DCist, which turned 6 yesterday (happy belated birthday, guys!), landed an interview with DCPS Chancellor Michelle Rhee, who has strongly hinted that she wouldn’t be able work in a Vince Gray administration. Rhee touched on the issue again with DCist, saying that she needs to work with a mayor who would give the kind of unwavering support that Fenty has.

“Well, like what I've said before, the only reason we've been able to accomplish everything that we have and we've been able to move as far as we have is because we've had the unequivocal support of the Mayor,” Rhee tells DCist. “And this is not easy stuff, when you're talking about closing down schools, and restructuring schools, and removing ineffective staff members -- that's not easy or fun stuff.”

Make sure to check out the full interview, which also includes some restaurant recommendations and comments about the Washington Post.


Wednesday, Sept. 8, 9:12 a.m.


Mayoral hopeful Vince Gray is set to release another policy plan on Wednesday morning.

Gray has scheduled a press conference to roll out his platform on "fiscal responsibility and government reform," according to a news release.Well that sounds fun. TBD's @kevinrobillard will be attending and we'll be posting the plan as soon as it hits our inboxes.


Wednesday, Sept. 8, 6:07 a.m.


Vince Gray's campaign has $443,935 cash on hand in the final days of the mayoral primary.

That's according to Office of Campaign Finance reports, which were posted online early Wednesday morning. Fenty, who has enjoyed a sizable fundraising advantage throughout the campaign, has $809,574 cash on hand, his report states.

The reports included data from Aug. 11 to Sept. 7.

Gray's donors during this filing period included a cross country coach at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry ($250 on Sept. 1), and Deborah Royster, president of the Ward 4 Democrats ($250 on Aug. 20,  $1,000 on Aug. 29.)

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg
, who has endorsed Fenty, donated $2,000 to the mayor’s campaign on Sept. 2. Kevin Johnson, the mayor of Sacramento who is engaged to DCPS Chancellor Michelle Rhee, has also contributed $2,000 to the Fenty campaign, according to the reports.

Fenty’s money lead has enabled him to use a small army of paid canvassers, doling out $50 and $100 to hundreds of workers over the reporting period. He also paid LSG Strategies Services Corp. $121,627.50 for polling work and mailing list.

Gray paid fewer employees, but gave them a lot more. Multiple consultants with fees in the $1,000 to $12,000 range appear in Gray’s expenditures list. He spent $69,757.50 on “campaign materials” from Kennedy Communications, a D.C.-based firm. His campaign also racked up a $21,200 bill with Hertz Rent-a-Car, and dropped more than $110,000 on advertising from McMahon, Squier and Associates.


Fenty Campaign Finance Report


Gray for Mayor Campaign Finance

We’ll continue to dig into these numbers throughout the day. Keep checking back with TBD for more ... 

@slarimer (with an assist from @kevinrobillard)

Wednesday, Sept. 8, 5:58 a.m.


D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty is “definitely competing” in the Nation's Triathlon this Sunday, says race spokeswoman Jennifer Devlin.

A Fenty campaign spokesman confirmed that the mayor would be competing in the race, which he finished in 2:21:18 in 2009, according to results posted online.

Devlin says Fenty is expected to start the Olympic Distance event around 7 a.m. Sunday with a swim in the Potomac River. He should finish the race at about 9:30 a.m., based on his previous race times.


Wednesday, Sept. 8, 5:45 a.m.


Hey, big news on Twitter last night: Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker broadcast his support for Adrian Fenty, in 140 characters or less.

Wrote Booker: "I am supporting Fenty in Washington DC - I hope you will consider doing so as well."

Does this count as an official endorsement? It is as probably close as you can get on Twitter. TBD contacted Booker’s press office in August, when New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg endorsed Fenty. We shot an e-mail off to a spokesperson when we saw the tweet Tuesday night, but apparently it was a furlough day for the City of Newark, according to the auto reply. So we’ll be checking back with them again today.


Wednesday, Sept. 8, 5:30 a.m.


Good morning, Washington. Man, is it just this early morning lady, or are all the days sort of blending together down the stretch? Well. Let’s get right to it, shall we?

Ron Moten and Marion Barry faced off in a live television debate Tuesday night, and it was the second most quotable thing on TV yesterday, right behind Bachelor Pad. Just kidding, of course Moten and Barry beat “Bachelor Pad.” Ron Moten’s grandmother got a mention. So did cronies and frat brothers. Some of TBD's favorite lines are below:

• “Adrian Fenty has made some mistakes, just like Marion Barry's made some mistakes.” — Ron Moten

• “What we have here is a situation where the voters, the majority of the voters, are disgusted.” — Marion Barry, on Fenty

• "(Fenty) has lost touch with his people. He manages by press conferences." — Marion Barry

• “The people do not know what they're getting.” — Ron Moten, on Gray

• “We have a pact ... women code.” OK that one was from Bachelor Pad.

As the Post’s Mike DeBonis also noted, Moten and Barry probably weren’t really the two best people to speak on behalf of the campaigns, especially this late in the race. But they have been the loudest, and/or the most interesting. So put ‘em on TV every night! TBD will, at least, be watching.


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