The early exuberance at Adrian Fenty’s campaign headquarters on Tuesday night slowly changed to disappointment as election results rolled in showing the D.C. mayor wouldn’t retain his job.
As polls closed at 8 p.m., Fenty supporters were optimistic, despite polls showing that he was several points behind D.C. City Council Chairman Vincent Gray.
Clad in green T-shirts, Fenty campaign workers stood outside the headquarters waiving signs as they shouted “four more years!”
One Fenty supporter inside the building clapped her hands as she sang “Victory is ours … We told Gray … Get thee behind!”
As the night progressed, hip-hop music filled the headquarters as one supporter shouted, “C’mon, ya’ll. There’s a celebration here!” Signs were posted in the building reading “4 More for Fenty” and “Fenty is Fantastic!”
Supporters announced Fenty victories in precincts they said he had won, including precinct 17 in Ward 2, an area with a significant LGBT population that Fenty carried by a margin of 731-334.
One gay Fenty volunteer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity early in the evening, said he was “pretty optimistic” based on “preliminary numbers and general sentiment.”
The volunteer dismissed polls showing that Gray was leading Fenty on the day of the primary and said early voting would help the mayor retain his position.
“We were out there every day helping folks get to the precincts,” the volunteer said.
But the mood became more somber as the night progressed and the headquarters filled with supporters anxiously awaiting returns.
Some waited for hours for the results to become public online as one supporter quipped, “Are the people counting the votes the same people responsible for shoveling the snow last winter?”
As early results began to trickle in from wards across the District, one supporter noted the numbers showed Gray with a 40-point lead over Fenty.
“It’s still early and our strength hasn’t yet come in,” the supporter said with strained optimism.
The impatience over waiting for the results gave way to alarm at one point as one campaign volunteer fell and shattered a glass wall at the campaign headquarters. Supporters looked on with concern as an ambulance and police cars arrived to care for the injured worker.
The mood turned somber as it became clear late in the evening that Fenty lost to Gray. Unofficial election results the next day showed Gray leading with 53 percent of the vote compared to the 46 percent that Fenty claimed.
Christopher Dyer, director of the Mayor’s Office of GLBT Affairs, said he’s anticipating the new leadership from Gray in the wake of Fenty’s loss.
“Obviously, the mayor didn’t win, but [I’m] looking forward to being as helpful as I can to Chairman Gray as he assumes leadership of our great city in January,” Dyer said.
Dyer said he doesn’t think the LGBT vote played a major role in the outcome.
“I haven’t looked at all the results, but I think that the … gay vote pretty much mirrored the non-gay vote,” Dyer said.
Still, Dyer said the residents of Ward 2 — a part of the District with a significant LGBT population — were “predominantly Fenty supporters.”
“It’s hard to tell,” Dyer said. “The results would indicate that in LGBT-friendly precincts, Fenty did well, but in precincts where there are LGBT residents east of the river, Gray did well.”
But Dyer maintained it’s time to focus on bringing the city together under the new leadership.
“It would be nice to know what the gay vote is, but I think the real important thing is for the city to come together and be supportive of whomever our leaders are,” Dyer said.
Asked whether he thinks he would take a role in the Gray administration, Dyer replied, “I serve at the pleasure of the mayor and it’s a great pleasure.”