In a Crowded Field, Gray Holds Substantial Lead Over Mayoral Primary Opponents, Washington Post Poll Shows

A Washington Post poll released Tuesday offers good news for Mayor Vincent Gray, showing him with a substantial lead over a split field of opponents in the April 1 Democratic primary.

Gray's popularity has rebounded from a low nearly two years ago because of the ongoing federal criminal probe into his 2010 campaign, the poll indicates.

But the mayor still has an image problem when it comes to ethics.

Asked if they thought Mayor Gray "is honest and trustworthy, or not," only 32 percent of the respondents said yes while 54 percent said no.

However, in July 2012, just 22 percent thought the mayor was honest; 61 percent said he was not.

In the race for mayor, Gray polls at 24 percent of the expected vote, double that of his challengers -- although 22 percent said they were undecided or disliked all the candidates.

D.C. Council Member Muriel Bowser is narrowly second with 12 percent, and Council Members Jack Evans and Tommy Wells both scored 11 percent.

The other candidates include D.C. Council Member Vincent Orange with 9 percent if the primary happened today; restaurateur Andy Shallal with 5 percent, and all other candidates with 1 percent or less.

The worst news for Gray is that 48 percent of the respondents favor other candidates. The good news? The crowded field of opponents is splitting that opposition.

His campaign manager, Chuck Thies, said Gray is in "a very strong position."

Thies said the split field of opponents have spent more than a year and more than $2 million criticizing Gray for the 2010 campaign finance investigation.

"Our opponents are uninspirational," Thies said. "They can't actually criticize the mayor and his administration or the job he has been doing because it is tremendous."

Thies said the media has "pilloried" the mayor for ethical issues connected to the 2010 campaign.

"We've always know that the challenge of this campaign would confront is breaking through the noise... the constant harping back to 2010 as opposed to looking at the three years of the Gray administration."

Forty-three percent of poll respondents indicated that Gray's campaign finance investigation would be a major factor in their votes -- but of those, seven percent said they would vote for him nonetheless.

Almost a third of would-be voters said the Gray campaign finance scandal would just be a minor factor in their decisions, and a quarter said it wouldn't be a factor at all for them. In both those groups, the majority would stick with Gray for a second term.

The Post poll showed that 59 percent of the respondents thought the city is moving in the right direction, compared to only 40 percent two years ago. And 68 percent of respondents believe the mayor is doing a good job attracting business to the city -- up from 40 percent two years ago.

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