When upstart councilman Tommy Carcetti defeated the incumbent mayor of Baltimore in the Democratic primary on HBO’s “The Wire,” Carcetti cautioned his supporters that the race wasn’t over yet -- they still had the general election to win.
The crowd laughed at the obvious joke. “Is there a Republican candidate for mayor?” Carcetti asked rhetorically.
D.C. Mayor-apparent Vincent Gray also reminded supporters on Wednesday that he’s not mayor-elect yet, let alone mayor.
At his first post-election news conference, Gray said, “There were lots of people who voted for me and there were lots of people who voted against me. Over the next seven weeks I’ll be reaching out to voters, especially those who didn’t vote for me.”
Is there a Republican candidate for mayor? Probably not. There were 1,373 write-in votes in the GOP primary, and while they have not been tallied yet, a late push to get Republicans to write in Mayor Adrian Fenty means Fenty was the likely winner. But Fenty said Wednesday that he would not accept a Republican nomination, nor would he run as a write-in candidate. Fenty said he plans to stay in D.C., but said it is unlikely he will ever run for office again.
Ask him again when he’s gotten over what late returns show to be a 10-point loss. Fenty is young and ambitious, and a comeback is not impossible. Richard Nixon said the same thing, in less generous terms, in 1962 after his defeat in the California gubernatorial race. Six years later he was elected president. (Not that I’m suggesting Fenty model himself after Tricky Dick.)
So the Gray transition begins, with Fenty’s full and so far gracious support. (Gray said of Fenty, “He pledged 100 percent support to helping make the transition smooth.”)
From the “you can’t fire me, I quit” file comes news that D.C. Attorney General Peter Nickles will take off before the new mayor starts. He expects his resignation to take effect on New Year’s Day. Not one to mince words, Nickles said, “Gray doesn’t want me, and I don’t want him. So it’s mutual, so it’s just a question of time.”
And from the “I didn’t quit, so fire me” file: Reports flew around the Internet Wednesday afternoon that Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee had resigned. Sahil Kapur, a Washington reporter for Raw Story, said on Twitter that “Rhee just quit via a 4-line email to the DC public school staff,” but that it was not a formal resignation. It turned out that Rhee had simply issued a brief statement praising Fenty’s leadership but adding, “Nothing about yesterday’s election lessens the urgency we need to continue to deliver amazing results for our schools.” Rhee didn’t say she was staying, but didn’t say she was going, either.
The story got some traction after DCist’s Martin Austermuhle jokingly tweeted that it was “Michelle D. Rhee” who had resigned. Folks outside the District, who didn’t get the reference to the weird At-Large Council race, furiously broadcast his “breaking news” around the Net until Austermuhle clarified.
Still, Rhee gave no sign that she intends to stay. In public remarks yesterday, she called the primary results “devastating for the schoolchildren of Washington, D.C.” Rhee told MSNBC that she felt “somewhat bad and guilty” for Fenty’s defeat, and took a big share of the blame.
You won’t get any disagreement from American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, who spent two years wrestling with the Fenty Administration over a contract. She told WAMU, “It was really a decision for them in differences in leadership style -- and about someone who is far more collaborative and believes in working with people, versus someone who is more autocratic.”
The Washington Teacher blog says the same thing more bluntly: “Dictatorships Don't Work in D.C.” Ward 8 activist Sandra Seegars sends this snarky missive to the mayor: “It has become evident that your work quality is not up to the standards required of our mayor. Thereupon, this left us with no choice but to tell/show you on September 14, 2010 that your employment is terminated effective as of January 2, 2011.”
The “Why Fenty Lost” post-mortems continue to roll in, with the Washington Post and Washington Examiner weighing in. But the must-read this morning is a jaw-droppingly vicious column by the Post’s Courtland Milloy that even Gray supporters are criticizing.
Milloy basically calls Fenty a race traitor who “inflicted deep hurts” before “shooting the wounded,” with the knowledge that “his supporters” would understand. Milloy calls Fenty a “cruel mayor” who imposed a 21st century update of the “plantation-style” federal control board. “As for you blacks: Don’t you, like, even know what’s good for you?”
We’re not done with elections yet. In addition to November’s coronation of Mayor Gray, there will be contested Council and nonpartisan Board of Elections races on the general election ballot. There will also be a special election to fill the seat of At-Large Councilmember Kwame Brown, who is set to become Council Chair in January. (Rival Vincent Orange conceded via text message Wednesday, writing, “I’ve been trying 2 reach u 2 congratulate u on your victory. Your cell is off. Congratulations!” He even added a smiley face emoticon.)
That special election probably won’t happen until next spring. Defeated At-Large candidate Clark Ray seems likely to run, and defeated mayoral hopeful Leo Alexander may be eyeing the race, saying Wednesday, “Over the next several days, I'll be meeting with and speaking to several people from all 8 wards of the District to determine my next political move. One thing’s for sure, this is only the beginning.”