Former D.C. mayor and current City Council member Vincent Gray (D-Ward 7) drew applause from members of the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club on Sept. 11, when he said he has not ruled out a run for mayor next year.
Gray, who attended the Stein Club’s regularly scheduled meeting at the D.C. Center for the LGBT Community, hinted at a possible mayoral race in response to a question by club member Matt Abbruzzese, who asked him, “Are you going to run for mayor?”
“Do you want me to make an announcement?” Gray replied, drawing laughter and applause from some club members.
“I haven’t ruled it out,” he said. “Let’s put it that way.”
Gray then mentioned how he was “hugely upset and disappointed” over the controversial news conference called by then-D.C. U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen one week before early voting began for the city’s 2014 Democratic primary for mayor. In his news conference Machen implied that he had evidence that Gray may have engaged in illegal fundraising in his 2010 mayoral election campaign.
No such evidence was presented and the U.S. Attorney’s office later dropped its investigation into alleged campaign finance violations in Gray’s 2010 campaign on grounds that insufficient evidence existed that such violations occurred.
Gray reiterated to Stein Club members on Monday night his previously stated belief that Machen’s 11th hour news conference reversed Gray’s lead in the polls and helped then-Council member Muriel Bowser beat Gray in the primary to become mayor.
“If you go back and look at the polls that were conducted during that time, every poll that was conducted one week before early voting started – we were up anywhere between 6 to 13 points,” Gray said. “And it was in my opinion an insurmountable lead,” said Gray. “What he did was he was trying to suppress the vote and he was successful in doing that,” Gray said in referring to Machen’s news conference.
Gray’s comment at the Stein Club meeting that he isn’t ruling out a run for mayor came a little over a week after D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine announced he will not run for mayor next year, a development believed to have boosted Bowser’s prospects for wining a second term as mayor.
A mayoral run by Gray next year could present a dilemma for the Stein Club. Gray received the club’s endorsement when he first ran for mayor in 2010. He finished ahead of his rivals, including Bowser, in the club’s 2014 endorsement vote but fell four votes short of obtaining the 60 percent threshold needed to win the club’s endorsement in the primary.
But similar to Gray, Bowser has emerged as a strong supporter of LGBT rights and LGBT-related issues since becoming mayor. She has outpaced Gray in appointments of a large number of LGBT people to high-level positions in her administration, building significant support within the LGBT community.
A race between Gray and Bowser for mayor next year would force Stein Club members and many LGBT voters to choose between two candidates considered strong friends of the LGBT community.