There's probably not enough holiday lights in all of the District to cheer up a new opinion poll that details the political troubles of Mayor Vincent Gray and Council Chairman Kwame Brown.
The chairman, who has been in public office since 2005, scored only a 23 percent approval rating in the new poll by the Clarus Research Group. That’s 23 percent approval, one of the lowest in city politics.
While just 23 percent approve of the chairman, a total of 57 percent disapprove.
Again, that’s higher than any other elected official in the poll.
“We just need to keep ... delivering for them,” Brown said in a brief interview Thursday. The chairman pointed to the new ethics reform bill and skillful handling of the city’s budget. He acknowledged the low level poll numbers are “a distraction.”
For Mayor Gray, things are only slightly better.
The Clarus poll taken this past week gives Gray only a 34 percent approval rating versus 53 percent that view his service negatively.
Gray said he believed that the low polling numbers stem from the hiring controversy early in his term and the ongoing federal probe of his 2010 campaign, a probe that has expanded beyond allegations of payoffs to former candidate Sulaimon Brown.
The mayor said all he can do is keep focusing on his priorities -- jobs, education, public safety and economic development
“We just want to keep doing those things and show people that, you know, the choices they made [in the election] were the right ones,” Gray said during a holiday party at the DC Department of Housing.
The poll by Clarus -- a respected polling firm that did independent polling not sponsored by any political group -- also showed that both former mayors Adrian Fenty and Tony Williams would easily defeat Gray if there were an election today.
The mostly gruesome numbers spell potential political trouble for Gray and especially for Brown, who is facing his own federal investigation into his 2008 reelection bid.
And with Ward 5 Council member Harry Thomas Jr. under a separate federal investigation, the poll shows a steep drop in approval ratings for the council as a whole.
Last March, the Clarus poll showed 54 precent of the city approved of the council, down slightly from when Gray was chairman. But the new poll shows council overall approval has fallen sharply to just 30 percent.