District Mayor Adrian Fenty is far and away the leader in raising money for his re-election campaign, reporting late Thursday night that he has collected a total of $4.3 million -- nearly $500,000 of it since March.
But challenger Vincent Gray, who got into the race in late March, had his own good showing. He reported collecting $561,342 in the short campaign period. And his campaign aides are pointing out that Gray tended to the District budget negotiations -- part of his job -- before turning to fundraising. They say 47 percent of his money came in the hectic last week of fundraising before last night's report.
"Obviously, we were extremely excited about what we raised in such a short period of time," said Adam Rubinson, Gray's campaign manager. "Having a candidate who is off the council dais (to fundraise) turns out to be advantageous."
One official connected to the Fenty campaign acknowledged that Gray made a good showing, but suggested the first wave of fundraising for Gray was "easy money." And one noted that Gray was getting support from former Mayor Sharon Pratt Kelly who contributed a total of $1,100 to Gray.
Fenty and Gray squared off at a forum in heavily white Ward 3 Thursday night, considered one of the most important wards because of the high voter turnout. Fenty pounded Gray for his connections to the failed administration of Kelly and his role as head of the troubled department of human services.
Gray, on the other hand, accused Fenty of running "one of the most opaque" administrations in the city's history -- and one that tolerated corruption involving Fenty friends.
Both campaigns had strong pockets of supporters who cheered throughout the two-hour debate. A straw poll was taken, but the results won't be released until next week. Organizers said they have to check the signatures of Ward 3 voters who signed in to vote to make sure they are in fact registered voters.