On Monday, the Washington Post published a front-page story on whether or not D.C. Mayor Vince Gray will run for reelection in 2014.
A few passages from the article need to be addressed.
First, there is this:
“A main concern should Gray move forward with a reelection bid would be replacing a campaign apparatus decimated by the federal investigation.”
Instead of a concern, this should be a relief.
The three people who pleaded guilty to crimes associated with Gray’s 2010 campaign were not the same people responsible for Gray’s victory. Nor were their enablers and accomplices. Instead, they were unprofessional hacks without the campaign experience or savvy to know a bad idea when it slapped them in the face.
In short, good riddance.
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Then there’s this:
“Key consultants on the legitimate campaign are unlikely to join a reelection effort.”
In 2010, Gray hired a first-class team of consultants. I know most of them and have worked on campaigns with at least two.
I would want all of them on my team. But I do not need any of them on my team.
This may come as a surprise, but it is not difficult to find top-notch political consultants in D.C.
Gray will have no trouble assembling a lineup of qualified experts. The best consultants love controversy and the challenges that go with it.
“[I]t could be difficult for Gray to raise the many hundreds of thousands of dollars […] that are typically necessary for a mayoral campaign.”
Gray ran a very cost-effective campaign in 2010. He unseated then-Mayor Adrian Fenty despite being outspent by millions of dollars.
If Gray decides to seek reelection, he should be able to raise all the money needed to mount an effective citywide effort.
Gray is an incumbent mayor who presides over $10 billion in spending every year. Businesses, lobbyists, developers and other entities invested in the District will not rebuff the mayor. Some may hedge their bets and write checks to more than one candidate, but unless things turn sour for Gray, deep-pocket players are unlikely to eschew him.
Furthermore, the depth and breadth of Gray’s Rolodex is likely to have quintupled in the past two years.
“Assembling a team of loyal operatives, particularly volunteers, could also prove difficult.”
Very few candidates are inspirational figures who attract volunteers by the flock. Gray and his potential opponents are equally non-electrifying. In which case, recruiting volunteers takes a lot of work. That work can be done by operatives.
You want loyal, hardworking operatives? Treat them with respect and pay them.
There are thousands of unemployed District residents. Many are young and college educated. In this town, an ambitious person can go a long way by working hard on a campaign, making a good impression and meeting the right people.
If Gray hangs a “Help Wanted” shingle, résumés will arrive by the hundreds.
So, what are Gray’s chances if he seeks reelection? Good. Very good.
None of Gray’s potential opponents has a base that extends beyond one of the District’s eight wards. Gray, on the other hand, has run citywide twice. He trounced his rivals both times
Just as important, none of Gray’s potential opponents threaten his base. None has represented a large percentage of the low- and middle-income voters who propelled Gray to victories in 2006 and 2010. Gray is also the only candidate who has “East of the River” roots.
And Gray’s voters are not known for abandoning politicians who find themselves in a pickle or attract the attention of investigators and prosecutors.
Will Gray run in 2014? Only Gray knows. But if he does, his opponents would be gravely mistaken to overestimate the fallout from 2010.