At Gray fund raiser, supporters hate Fenty as much as they love Gray
July 12, 2010 | by Molly Redden
Judith Terra, a diminutive but energetic former Georgetown resident, said she helped convince Gray to run in the election. Reuben Charles, who praised Gray for his "intellectual curiosity, the thoughtful, adult-like way he has run the Council," and his talent for managing the personalities of the City's legislative body, said he is one of Gray’s most energetic fund raisers.
But even the avid Gray supporters in the City Tavern Club’s exclusive reception hall expressed bitter feelings about Fenty that were as strong as their feelings for Gray, emphasizing that in this election, a vote for Gray can actually be more of a rebuke of Fenty. Although supporters admire Gray for his "maturity" and "character"—words many used to describe him last night—even Gray’s biggest supporters are highly motivated by their dislike of D.C.'s incumbent mayor.
To Charles, for example, Gray is a refreshing candidate given the "litany of bad leadership the city has had among its mayors."
As a follow-up to his admiring remarks about Gray, Jeff Miller, the chair of the Mount Vernon Trianlge CID, went on an expletive-laced screed against Fenty. "Gray is energetic, he shows strength of character," Miller said. "He's not going to close fucking M Street after a snowstorm for two days. He's not going to shut down downtown for hours on a weekend for a triathlon, so a bunch of men can run around and swim."
Supporters readily recalled frustrating experiences with city bureaucracies. Brian Snow complained of incompetence in the city's ex-fellon employment program, which is run by the Labor Department. Gregory Igeo, a developer on the host committee for the evening, called Department of Consumer Regulatory Affairs "a department in total disarray."
In his address to the audience, Gray signaled that he was growing more willing to run an aggressive campaign.
"We shouldn't be dominated by conversations about whether contracts were given to fraternity brothers. That's embarrassing," he said over some of the evening's most vigorous applause. "In the Gray administration, you will be able to compete on a level playing field."
Supporters were excited about Gray's wonkish knowledge of the city's failure to improve special needs education or provide job training and his promises to employ more District citizens and "return fiscal responsibility" to the mayor's office, too. But some of the biggest laugh- or applause-getters were lines that referenced Fenty cronyism.
Most Georgetown-area locals at the event were not there as supporters but listeners. They were there to hear Gray's message, they said, since Fenty's lackadaisical campaign has almost no message for Georgetown. Davis Kennedy of the Current Newspapers said that in Georgetown, "I imagine that a month ago it was overwhelmingly for Fenty, and it's coming down from that now." So naturally, he said, voters disappointed by Fenty are now curious to see what Gray is all about.
To his supporters, Gray embodies his campaign's mantra—character, leadership, and integrity—but it is equally important that he represents an alternative to Fenty.
Referencing the colors of his and Fenty's yard sign colors, he said, "This city is turning into a sea of blue, and I think some of these folks are turning green with envy."