The D.C. mayoral primary is 19 days away, and early voting begins Monday.
D.C. Council member David A. Catania filed paperwork Wednesday to run as an independent for mayor, ensuring that the hard-fought primary race will likely transform into one of the most competitive general-election battles the district's ever seen.
Catania, 46, will not face the other candidates in the April 1 Democratic primary since he's running as an independent. In a recent Washington Post poll, Catania and Gray were nearly tied in a hypothetical head-to-head, with Gray leading 43 percent to 40 percent among registered voters.
In a press conference Wednesday, Catania criticized Gray's governance.
"I think we have more of an administrator than a leader; the mayor has tended a garden that was planted before him," he said. "I don't believe that any of these [construction] cranes are traced to the work of Vincent Gray."
Catania faces challenges in the general election as a white gay candidate with no party affiliation.
"He's got one strike against him in that he doesn't share the political and demographic characteristics as most of the voters," Paul S. Herrnson, a longtime D.C. political observer, told the Washington Times. "Also some conservative voters may not be as inclined to support his campaign based on some of his social issues."
Catania, a former Republican, raised funds for George W. Bush's first presidential campaign before leaving the party after Bush supported a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, the Washington Post reported.
Catania addressed his bid as independent candidate head-on.
"I would be delighted to put my record against any of those who currently have 'Democrat' by their name, as it relates to Democratic values," Catania told reporters. "Labels are fine, but I think the people are looking for a leader who has actually delivered."
The Washington Post explains Catania's record:
"On the council, Catania has worked to salvage a public hospital and to legalize same-sex marriage and medical marijuana.
"As chair of the council's Education Committee, his recent push for school reform has defined his public image. Catania has proposed measures intended to bolster standards and increase resources available to schools in poor and working-class neighborhoods."
IN OTHER NEWS:
- A prominent D.C. blog endorsed Tommy Wells for mayor, saying he "clearly understands the forces that shape our city more deeply and thoroughly than any other mayoral candidate." (Greater Greater Washington)
- Meanwhile, The Current newspaper chain has retracted its endorsement of Mayor Vincent Gray, saying the mayor "should be above reproach." A new endorsement will come "in the near future." (The Washington Post)
- In his State of the District speech Tuesday, Gray responded to allegations that he led a "shadow campaign" and made a pitch for his re-election. (The Washington Post)
- Mayoral Candidate Muriel Bowser delivered a response to Gray's speech. (Washington City Paper)
- Washington analysts say it may not be over for Gray. (POLITICO)