Polls won’t close until sunset tomorrow, but there are already some early returns in the D.C. mayoral race. Last night’s edition of DCWatch's TheMail was headlined “Why Fenty Lost,” and in his influential Politico Playbook e-mail briefing this morning, Mike Allen includes an item titled “Why Mayor Adrian Fenty Will Lose Tomorrow.”
My own guess is that Vincent Gray will beat Fenty by a margin of about 7 percent. Of course, if I was any good at this sort of thing, Sen. George Allen would be serving his second term right now -- as would President John Kerry. So take my prediction with a pound of salt.
The D.C. campaign trail was a fairly peaceful place on Sunday, with the campaigns now more focused on getting out the vote than on trashing the other side. Fenty started his Sunday by swimming 1,500 meters, biking about 25 miles, then running about six miles in two hours and 44 minutes at the Nation's Triathlon. That’s one race where Gray probably couldn’t hope to compete. (If Gray were to do a triathlon, he would probably go more slowly, stop to talk to bystanders, and pause regularly to consider alternate directions.)
Gray spent his Sunday morning at three mostly black churches, rallying a constituency that has flocked to his campaign, according to recent polls. He made his “One City” unity pitch and also focused on unemployment, and according to the Washington Post, at one of the churches he “was seated as the ‘mayor-elect.’” Gray vowed to reopen the D.C. Office of Religious Affairs, which was abolished by Fenty.
Both candidates later appeared at Adams Morgan Day, where one observer said attendees wearing Fenty stickers outnumbered Gray fans by about three to one. However, the Post writes that “even here, in what was once considered Fenty country, the mayor discovered some of the enthusiasm that greeted him in past years at the festival had faded.”
One mystery was solved when Cora Masters Barry took responsibility “for an effort to reward voters with supermarket gift cards,” according to the Post’s Mike DeBonis. Reeling from vote-buying accusations, supporters of the Fenty campaign “secretly videotaped voters receiving $10 gift cards” outside a supermarket in Gray-friendly Ward 8. However, DeBonis notes, “the tape does not show anyone telling residents to vote for Gray," and it has since been removed from YouTube.
The Washington Examiner this morning repeats its editorial plea for Fenty, saying voters “can risk a return to old-style patronage politics, or they can vote to continue the transformation of Washington from national embarrassment to world-class capital city.” In Fenty’s first term, the Examiner writes, “in his four years as mayor remarkable progress has been made, and today D.C. stands on the threshold of what could become its golden age.”
“Old-style patronage politics”? Maybe. D.C. congressional candidate Doug Sloan says on the campaign trail Sunday, he saw a Gray supporter “raving about how great our new mayor Marion Barry will be. Freudian slip!”
Examiner columnist Jonetta Rose Barras, who has praised Fenty and criticized Gray throughout the race, also formally endorses Fenty in her column today, saying he “has produced a distinguished record of achievement.” Though Fenty “occasionally has stumbled,” the “majority of residents have consistently said they're happy with the direction of the city. Fenty and his political brand have taken a bruising to ensure their happiness.”
The Fenty-friendly Post does not weigh in on the race today, though columnist Courtland Milloy pens an ode to D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee, writing that “from its birth in 1790, the District has inspired grand visions of a more perfect union among diverse peoples,” and that Rhee is helping to make that a reality. Milloy says Rhee’s “vision of a city school system with its academic fabric rewoven almost takes your breath away.” (The Post also has a primary-eve Metro section story on one teacher’s appreciation for Rhee.)
Mayoral candidate Leo Alexander, still running hard despite polling 2 percent or lower, is focusing on HIV/AIDS in the home stretch, saying he would declare an official epidemic. Alexander says his opposition to same-sex marriage has kept HIV/AIDS activists from giving him a serious look.
In the At-Large Council contest, voters received robocalls from Councilmember Michael A. Brown, clarifying that he is not on the ballot this year and that he is not the Michael Brown who is running. He tells DCist’s Dave Stroup that he “was surprised to learn” that Michael D. Brown has decided to run for the seat. “I certainly support his right to run,” Councilmember Brown says, but “it became clear almost immediately that there was considerable voter confusion.”
Following on his own robocalls that some said were less than on the level, Michael D. Brown has also sent out late campaign mailings that do not feature his photograph -- extremely rare for campaign literature.
There’s also news on another race that will not be decided until November. The 8C03 Advisory Neighborhood Commission race got some citywide attention last month when incumbent Mary Cuthbert was caught on tape using a racial slur in an encounter with her opponent Larry Pretlow II. On Saturday, Pretlow's Twitter feed carried the message that the was getting out of the race, citing “unnecessary drama.” But this morning comes word from Congress Heights on the Rise that Pretlow -- who has been facing an Internet smear campaign he says is directed by a former associate -- is still in the race, and that his account had been hacked.