Chuck Thies: Time for Mayor Gray to Decide

Ten candidates have filed to run for mayor, but Gray is still undecided

Friday, Nov 15, 2013  |  Updated 11:29 AM EDT
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Chuck Thies: Time for Mayor Gray to Decide

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D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray

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In January 2010, the editorial page of the Washington Post urged Vince Gray to run for mayor against Adrian Fenty.

The Post wrote, “Mr. Gray told [us] that he's considering a race and believes he could win. We hope he acts on that optimism and jumps into the race.”

File that editorial in the "Be careful what you wish for" drawer.

A few months later, Gray entered the race.

Despite cajoling Gray into the contest, the Post endorsed Fenty.

Gray won.

This time around, it is highly unlikely that the Post will be enticing Gray into the race.

So, allow me.

At last count, there were 10 candidates seeking Gray’s job. Among them, four D.C. Council members, a restaurateur, an outsider with Clinton ties, and some also-rans.

If Gray enters the race, all of them may be also-rans.

As Gray has pointed out, his tenure as mayor has been successful. What he set out to do, he is doing.

But don’t believe Gray. Check this out.

The Post gives the mayor props on key issues like education.

Last week, the editorial page wrote, "School reform in the District is working. … Tremendous gains in the past two years show that there has been no lessening in the intensity of school reform under Mayor Vincent C. Gray."

Two weeks earlier, the Post wrote,

“Gray’s accomplishments are real: smart cabinet appointments, unwavering support for school reform, strong leadership."

Of course, Gray has been dogged by the very vehicle that delivered him to the job: his 2010 campaign. Prosecutors have nabbed several crooks who helped to orchestrate an illegal shadow campaign that supported his election. The probe continues and likely includes people who at one time were within Gray’s inner circle.

If I were Gray, the ongoing investigation and fallout from 2010 is what would convince me that I needed to run for reelection.

The main rap against Gray is his first campaign for mayor. A winning effort in 2014, devoid of scandal and drama, would disarm critics of their principal weapon. As well, a dexterous reelection campaign could be the vehicle whereby Gray takes the lead in defining his legacy, as opposed to the narrative preferred by hecklers.

Have no doubt: if Gray does not seek reelection his critics will insist that the ball and chain of 2010 prevented him from running.

As mayor, Gray has kept a steady hand on the rudder and done a good job balancing the demands of multiple, competing interests.

When tested against the field of candidates who seek to replace him, Gray is likely to win a great deal of support based on his record and leadership.

Nonetheless, maybe Gray has decided not to run.

If that is the case, I urge the mayor to make that clear. And soon. Like today.

District residents need to familiarize themselves with and scrutinize the current crop of candidates.

So far, it seems as though few voters are paying attention.

When Gray gets in or if Gray bows out, all that will change. The starting gun fires with his announcement.

I say, “Run, Vince, run.”

My dad’s advice to the mayor would be a bit more colorful: “Poop or get off the pot.”

Chuck Thies is a political, communications and advocacy consultant. From 1998 to 2010 his professional portfolio included District of Columbia politics. Chuck has worked on national projects and internationally in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, China and Mexico. If you are daring, follow him on Twitter: @ChuckThies.
 

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