Opinion: Gray Rides Out Summer Storm

D.C. Mayor Vince Gray has weathered the storms of June and July; two months that saw a non-stop barrage of bad news stemming from the federal investigation into his 2010 mayoral bid and an illicitly funded shadow campaign. He endured an abundance of damning commentary as well as a dubious Washington Post poll that showed his numbers sliding downhill.

Unfounded rumors that Gray was going to resign were becoming as common as extreme heat alerts.

Yet here we are, in the first week of August, and Gray still has his job.

The mayor has not been broken. I can’t even say he bent.

Ask Gray. He will tell you that he is undeterred. Voters sent him to City Hall to do a job and he is going to get it done.

By all accounts, that is exactly what he is doing.

Getting the job done, though, is not good enough for some members of the media. They are demanding answers to questions about the events of 2010.

Fair enough. Journalists have a job to do.

The mayor has a job to do, too.

And thus, he is not answering some of the tricky questions.

For example, this one: “Mayor Gray, did you know about the shadow campaign?”

If Gray were to answer along these lines, “I was aware that there were organizations supporting my candidacy, but I was not aware that any were breaking the law,” you can imagine the headlines that would follow: GRAY KNEW ABOUT SHADOW CAMPAIGN!

So it is no wonder that one of Gray’s top aides recently met with a crisis management media consultant.

The mayor is ably served by his senior staff. Like their boss, they have not bent during these times of extreme pressure. But given the circumstances, seeking the advice of an expert who has a different vantage point is wise.

In fact, I would be concerned if Gray’s lieutenants had not sought recommendations from a specialist. District residents benefit when the administration functions well.

Gray’s focus is on managing the city. Nuts and bolts. He does not govern like a politician or play for the cameras.

Expect him to do exactly what he has been doing, regardless of whether he is in the eye of the storm, standing before an impending tidal wave or drifting on cloud nine.

And do not expect him to succumb to the press, pundits or other critics.

Chuck Thies is a political analyst and consultant.  His columns appear every Tuesday and Thursday on First Read DMV. He co-hosts "DC Politics" on WPFW, 89.3 FM. Since 1991, Chuck has lived in either D.C., Maryland or Virginia. Email your tips and complaints to chuckthies@gmail.com or tweet at @chuckthies.

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