Poll Finds Gray Ahead With Room, Time to Fall
Published: Friday, January 17, 2014
Updated: Friday, January 17, 2014 14:01
A Washington Post poll released Wednesday shows incumbent D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray holding a double-digit lead for the April 1 Democratic mayoral primary, despite concerns over the ethics scandal that engulfed his 2010 run for mayor.
However, with just 24 percent of registered Democrats saying they would back the mayor’s re-election bid, Gray leaves plenty of room for his opponents to narrow the gap over the next two and a half months.
This statistic has left hopefuls like Councilmember Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4) confident that the race is wide open.
“I don’t think this poll changes our strategy at all. We’re running against an incumbent. If we were ahead of him, it would be stunning,” Bowser said. “I think the number that jumps out to me is that 76 percent of D.C. wants somebody else to be mayor, and we think we’re going to be the one people coalesce around throughout this campaign.
Candidate and Councilmember Jack Evans’ (D-Ward 2) campaign spokesman Jermaine House was similarly encouraged by the poll numbers.
“Over 70 percent of District residents want a change in leadership,” House said. “As people continue to learn about Jack’s record of creating jobs and bringing economic opportunity to every resident, he will emerge as the strongest candidate, and our campaign has the resources to ensure this message is heard citywide.”
Gray’s nearest challengers include Bowser, Evans and Councilmember Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6), who garnered 12, 11 and 11 percent of the vote, respectively. Councilmember Vincent Orange (D-At Large) received 9 percent of the vote, and Busboys and Poets restaurateur Andy Shallal rounded out the field with 5 percent.
The mayor did receive high marks among D.C. residents on some topics, with 68 percent of respondents saying he has done a good job attracting new business to the District. In addition, almost 60 percent of D.C. residents believe the city is on the right track. Candidates’ reactions to the poll demonstrated that they were quick to pounce on what they perceived as a desire for change among District voters.
“The major finding from the poll is that D.C. Democratic voters want fresh leadership with unquestionable integrity and a new vision to overcome the growing economic inequality in the District,” Shallal said in a press release from his campaign on Tuesday.
To Shallal’s point, the poll found that 54 percent of D.C. residents do not believe Gray is honest and trustworthy, a sign that his vulnerabilities are still left over from his 2010 investigation persist.
Candidate and former State Department official Reta Jo Lewis, who officially launched her campaign back in November, remained confident even though this poll had her support at around 1 percent.
“This race is wide open — many are undecided, and most don’t yet know me,” Lewis said in a statement. “But it shows what we’ve been saying: Education, crime, jobs, ethics and integrity — all are important to voters when deciding who should lead this city. I look forward to introducing myself to voters, and then they can decide if my vision for D.C., to include everyone in its progress, is right for them.”
Thus far the election’s potential wildcard is Councilmember David Catania (I-At Large) (SFS ’90, LAW ’94), who is well known in the District, but has not come to a decision on whether or not to run in the November general election. Former city contractor and fellow mayoral candidate Christian Carter garnered 1 percent of likely votes.