No More Mr. Nice Gray

Gray hits Fenty with new negative TV ad

By P.J. Orvetti
|  Wednesday, Aug 25, 2010  |  Updated 6:31 AM EDT
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No More Mr. Nice Gray

NBCWashington.com

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D.C. Council Chairman Vincent Gray has been dominating the playing field in his race against Mayor Adrian Fenty, winning straw poll after straw poll, endorsement after endorsement. But Fenty has retained one big advantage: money.

At the end of the most recent reporting period, Fenty had about $2 million left to spend, while Gray had just $690,000. By that point, Fenty had already spent about $1 million on television advertising. Now Gray is at last up with his own first TV spot.

Like Fenty’s most recent round of ads, it’s a negative spot -- even though the Gray campaign has criticized Fenty’s negative campaigning.
 

The Gray ad, which will run on cable channels but not broadcast network affiliates, follows up on a recent mass mailing from his campaign that attacked Fenty for directing city contracts to his longtime friends Omar Karim and Sinclair Skinner. The mailing was headlined, “Adrian Fenty has a special jobs program... for his frat brothers.”

Fenty told the Washington Post that Gray is “misrepresenting his record. He said ‘it's been well-established that the contracts were completely done by an independent agency and went through the procurement process.’”

Gray’s television spot continues the theme. “Times are tough for many folks in D.C., but not for Adrian Fenty's cronies,” the narrator intones, against a background of gritty images of the city, and scary-looking photos of Karim, Skinner, and Peaceoholics co-founder Ron Moten -- who is called “another Fenty crony awarded millions of dollars” from the city. Gray, the narrator says, “will end the cronyism,” and is “the only candidate with a real plan to create jobs.”

Like any challenger to an incumbent, Gray has spent much of the race poking at Fenty’s record. It has raised him from an underfunded long-shot to the leader in two recent polls. But the one-two punch of the mailing and this ad takes Gray to a new level of negativity.

How will voters react to this tactic from Mr. Nice Guy Gray? Gray is also promising 21 days of negativity against Fenty on his Twitter feed. So far, Twitter reaction has been largely negative.

Gray’s surge against Fenty has been due in great part to the perception that Fenty is arrogant and aloof, while Gray is a likable fellow you’ll be happy to spend four years getting to know. His fresh heavy-handed assault on Fenty could put a dent in that image.


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