Tom Sherwood's Notebook: 11/25/09 - NBC4 Washington

Tom Sherwood's Notebook: 11/25/09



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    A new poll released this week suggests people apparently like Mayor Adrian Fenty’s policies more than they like him.

    Will the poll help persuade D.C. Council Chairman Vincent Gray to run for mayor?

    Will the poll serve as a wake-up (or shape-up) call to the mayor?

    Will a poll taken in November 2009 have any relevance come 2010?

    We suggest to everyone that after Thanksgiving you burp a few times and digest the political situation a little more calmly.

    But we can’t deny that the political waters are bubbling.

    Apart from the poll (more about it in a moment), the Notebook is aware that developer R. Donahue Peebles is seriously weighing a campaign. Sources said he’ll decide in the next couple weeks whether he’s in or he’s out.

    The good thing for Peebles is that he doesn’t have to worry about raising the big bucks. He already has them. He could be a miniature Michael Bloomberg, financing his own campaign and offering not to take anything but $1 in salary.

    There’s no question that Peebles is a successful developer, but he would have a big hurdle to become a successful candidate.

    He got his start in the 1980s when Mayor Marion Barry and his administration brought Peebles into his first deal and made him a millionaire. More followed, but Peebles headed to Miami after the Barry stigma made it difficult for him here.

    (It’s all in his book “The Peebles Principles.” One of those principles says “self-preservation trumps friendship.”)

    Whether Peebles could minimize the Barry connection or would have it thrown into his face every day -- and on the Washington Post editorial page -- is something he’ll have to consider.

    Gray has been sailing along, becoming the go-to guy for dissatisfaction with Fenty. And he’s embraced all that attention, even giving a fiery speech before fired teachers and suggesting they be hired back.

    The poll by the Clarus Research Group -- based in D.C. but done for no client -- showed Gray ahead of Fenty 51 percent to 47 percent, but that’s within the margin of error.

    And the poll was taken before The Washington Times story that sullied Gray’s squeaky-clean image by questioning who did repair work on Gray’s home this year and when and why Gray wrote a check to pay for it. It all involves a politically active real estate person. (But not Peebles. Let’s keep everyone in his own lane.)

    The poll wasted time on one matchup that’s unlikely to happen. It polled Fenty against Gray and both council members Kwame Brown and Michael Brown. It may have boosted their egos, but it’s extremely unlikely that a four-way race for mayor would develop.

    Kwame Brown, twice elected to the council, has the most desire to run for mayor. But some of his supporters say the opening is just not there. Especially if Gray gets in.

    Michael Brown is serving his first term on the council after running unsuccessfully for mayor in 2006 and then for the Ward 4 council seat when Fenty vacated it. Michael Brown may want to savor actually holding an office before running for another one.

    Fenty’s approval-disapproval rating was 43 percent to 49 percent.

    Gray’s approval-disapproval rating was 46 percent to 16 percent, but a lot of people didn’t know who he was. (Some 38 percent had not heard of him.)

    Gray put out a fun statement in response to the poll, saying, “I look forward to even higher ratings, no matter what elected position I hold.”

    Fenty’s reaction was simple, too. He takes no one and nothing for granted. Those who witnessed his 2006 tenacity should not underestimate it now.

    But at minimum, Fenty needs to put on a friendlier face. Once someone stops liking you, it’s hard to win him or her back. 

    • More From the Poll

    The good news for Fenty is that the poll shows D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier has a 71 percent approval rating, strong citywide. Only 12 percent disapprove of her performance.

    Not so good is Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee. Her approval rating is only 47 percent, and her disapproval rating is 39 percent. But after her rough autumn (remember the teacher firings), she could have done a lot worse.

    • About Clarus 

    It’s a marketing firm with lots of different clients. For the full poll results, go to