What's Next for Vincent Gray? - NBC4 Washington
Decision D.C.

Decision D.C.

What's Next for Vincent Gray?

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    Mayor Vincent Gray is pressing ahead with his re-election bid amidst allegations of election fraud.

    His campaign has been "prepared for the unexpected," said Chuck Thies, Gray's campaign manager.

    "We have $700,000, we lead in the polls, and we now understand that the closing weeks of this race will be turbulent, but we didn't expect anything less," Thies said.

    In his State of the District speech last week, Gray tackled the allegations brought against him by D.C. businessman Jeffrey Thompson in a plea deal that Thompson cut with prosecutors.

    "So I ask you, who do you believe?" Gray said. "A greedy man attempting to save himself, or me, a public servant who has dedicated his entire career to giving back to our communities?"

    He then reiterated his innocence: "I say this to all of you now, clearly and unequivocally: I didn't break the law."

    During his speech, Gray committed a one-time $100 million investment in affordable housing funding that would maintain low rents in 10,000 units for medium- and low-income residents. This is in addition to the money currently in the Housing Production Trust Fund, which is the city's main source of housing subsidies.

    This commitment comes after Gray and the council cut about $40 million from the trust in his first two years in office.

    The city's unemployment rate, 8.1 percent, is at its lowest point in five years. It stood at 10 percent when Gray took office in 2011. Ward 8 has seen its unemployment rate decline from 27 percent to 16.2 percent, according to the mayor.

    The mayor attributes this reduction to his "One City, One Hire" employment initiative, in which the city trains residents and urges businesses to hire them.

    Gray also announced $116 million toward public education to be included in next year's budget, and touted that public school enrollment increased by three percent this year, after what he described as "decades of decline."

    But several of Gray's opponents quickly denounced the mayor following Monday's revelations.

    "It is clearer than ever that his 2010 campaign disqualifies him from running for re-election -- and may even preclude him from continuing in office," said D.C. councilmember (and mayoral primary opponent) Tommy Wells in a press release.

    "We have to restore integrity to our government and bring this culture of corruption to an end," Wells said, echoing his main campaign theme.

    Muriel Bowser, who is Gray's closest challenger in the polls, said in a statement, "In its plea agreement with Jeffrey Thompson, federal prosecutors detailed the worst of kind of corruption -- trading illegal, under the table campaign cash for political contracts and favors for the Mayor's family and friends."

    Thies, Gray's campaign manager, said the mayor is being unfairly attacked. 

    "It's my understanding that in America there is a presumption of innocence," he said. "And that presumption has never been afforded the mayor, not by any of these politicians, who are now piling on."

    Hours after the news of Thompson's plea agreement broke, David Catania announced his mayoral bid as an independent candidate.

    "This whole drama that we've had, this 'Jeff Thompson/Vince Gray drama,' the time has come for this to end," Catania said. "We need to be talking about how our kids are ready to succeed. We need to be talking about an affordable housing plan, and a public safety plan of action.... The less we talk about Vince Gray and Jeff Thompson, the better."

    U.S. Attorney General for D.C. Ron Machen said on Monday that the revelations are "only the tip of the iceberg, a fraction of the information we're learning."

    Despite the scandal, Gray's campaign will ramp up its efforts in the race's final weeks.

    "When you've been through what Vince Gray has been through and you still lead in the polls... your base is unshakeable," he said.