“Formerly Fenty.” It’s not a “Suddenly Susan” spin-off. It’s a website launched by Vincent Gray’s campaign in the final days of the mayoral race, with testimonials from ex-Fenty supporters who now back his rival.
So far, about 280 people have added their names to the site’s Fenty-fans-in-recovery roster. The site also features a half-dozen YouTube testimonials -- done in the same color scheme as Fenty’s own campaign ads -- by particularly impassioned Gray converts.
The Fenty camp told me, “We're focused on changing this city because we believe in D.C. And our supporters see the change.” Perhaps Fenty’s campaign will counter with a site called “Fentier Than Thou.”
Another thing that’s formerly Fenty: the big campaign cash advantage. Fenty has raised almost $5 million for his campaign, while Gray has raised just $1.7 million. But as the campaign enters its final week, Fenty has just $809,574 left, to Gray’s $443,935. It’s still an advantage, but nothing like the 10-to-1 advantage Fenty once enjoyed.
Gray outraised Fenty in the last three weeks by a long shot, taking in $461,585 to Fenty’s $214,528. Among Fenty’s biggest late donors: Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, fiancée of D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee, who sent in a $2,000 check.
Fenty has spent about $400,000 on a get-out-the-vote effort for the early voting period, and Gray strategist Mo Elleithee conceded thar Fenty “likely has a small lead” among those who have already voted, the Washington Post reports. The Fenty campaign has been making a big early voting push to combat the impression that Fenty’s defeat is a done deal, and, as the Post writes, “many of the ballots cast at early-voting sites are near expected Fenty strongholds in Chevy Chase and Capitol Hill.”
The Stand Up! For Democracy in D.C. Coalition hosted a poorly attended candidate forum at Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library Tuesday evening, and Gray made a late appearance, joining candidates Leo Alexander and Sulaimon Brown. Gray again called for civil disobedience and mass arrests to win statehood. (Alexander, for his part, called on President Obama to unilaterally declare D.C. a territory, and pledged to appeal to the United Nations for support.) Fenty didn't show.
As that event proved, the two main candidates for mayor are done with debates. But two of their wackier surrogates, Peaceaholics co-founder Ron Moten and Mayor for Life Marion Barry, debated for about 15 minutes on Fox 5’s 10 p.m. newscast last night. Unfortunately, the event did not take the format of a rap battle.
The Washington Post says Barry and Moten, “both of whom have emerged as sideshows in the mayor’s race, clashed with each other over their support for their favored candidates.” Gray backer Barry “stumbled over his words” while Fenty support Moten “stumbled over his facts.”
Moten “stated at least twice that Gray gave ‘$500 million’ in city contracts to his friends, which appears to be untrue,” while Barry -- in a line sure to appear in Fenty campaign materials in the campaign’s final week -- said at one point, “I had an outstanding government. Vincent Gray and I have a forward vision for the city.”
Yesterday was a busy day for Moten. Washington City Paper reports that he was called before an Office of Campaign Finance hearing “on whether his numerous efforts (go-go concerts, songs, a music video, and a magazine) in support” of Fenty’s campaign violate election laws. A Gray campaign volunteer “had filed a complaint with OCF, saying Moten’s extracurricular activities were part of the Fenty re-election campaign and needed to be identified as such.”
Meanwhile, Gray continues to make inroads into Fenty’s Northwest base. Though Courtland Milloy writes in his Washington Post column that Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh is finding it tough to “get the progressive-minded residents of the ward to join Gray’s ‘One City’ movement,” Gray has received the endorsement of the Georgetown Dish, which says that Fenty, “despite a long list of accomplishments, viscerally resists collaboration, conciliation or participation in decision-making.” The Dish says Gray “has the skills, experience and right democratic instincts to heal divisions opened by the Fenty administration.”
The Dish also looks ahead to a possible Fenty comeback, arguing that a humbling defeat could help him return to office later as a better leader, as Bill Clinton did after he was initially voted out of office as Arkansas governor after one term.
Milloy says in his column that Rhee is “Gray’s de facto opponent in the race,” and she “has indicated that she will quit if Fenty loses.” That threat sparked an endorsement of Rhee -- oh, and Fenty, too -- by the New Republic, with an apocalyptic pronouncement that “the fate of education reform rides on the D.C. mayoral race.”
Readers, take heart: By this time next week, this whole thing will be over.