Steve Francis on his support for Muriel Bowser

(Rick Maese / Washington Post)
(Rick Maese / Washington Post)

For a moment, the band stopped playing and the bartenders stopped pouring. D.C. Council member Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4) took to the microphone.

“With three weeks to go, we’re shaping up as the only campaign that can beat this mayor. What we learned today is our city deserves a new mayor, for sure,” she said.

The party Monday night was being held in her honor — to help fund her mayoral bid — and those gathered in the hotel ballroom made donations to meet Bowser and her special guest.

“I was so happy when our friend Steve Francis said, ‘Let’s have a party.’ I see you, Steve Francis. Give it up for Steve Francis,” she said. “He ran away to Houston, Texas, but he left his heart here in the DMV and we just love him for that. He, like all of us in this room, wants to make sure we have a city we can be proud of, right?”

For a player whose recent public appearances have been mostly limited to Web site headlines and bad photos, Francis is being especially visible this week. He took in Sunday’s Virginia-Maryland game in College Park, and Monday night — dressed sharply in a stylish dark suit with thick-rimmed eyeglasses — he had a starring role in Bowser’s fundraiser. He’s a native of the area, obviously, but this is the first time he’s gone to bat for a political candidate.

“If you believe in something, you gotta stick with it,” he said. “I believe in what she’s trying to accomplish. So I’m definitely sticking with the vision that she has for Washington, D.C.”

Francis said he and Bowser met through mutual friends. They sat together for part of Sunday’s Terps’ win, and Francis says he especially likes her views on education. Francis runs a charitable foundation that includes a college scholarship for area graduates.

“These are the things that she’s interested in,” he said. “That’s what really struck me about her — a vision for change, a female running, also she’s African-American. So you can see a lot of potential for D.C.

“I’m not trying to be the face of everything, but I know when my face can be useful. But most things I’d rather other people take the glory. I’d just like to help in any aspect that I can….I’ve been doing things behind the scenes without people knowing, real estate, things like that. This is a great opportunity to be with somebody who has a similar vision as I do.”

Rick Maese is a sports features writer for The Washington Post.
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