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Posted at 12:21 PM ET, 01/12/2010

Chamber leader wants vigorous mayoral race

With the Distirct gaining population and with homicides in the city at a 43-year low, one could assume that Washington business leaders would be pleased to see Mayor Adrian. M. Fenty (D) easily glide into a second term.

The leaders of the D.C. Chamber of Commerce, however, think it would be good for the city if Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray (D) or another well-known Democrat challenges Fenty in this year's primary. So far, former television reporter Leo Alexander is the most vocal candidate in the race against Fenty, who has already collected nearly $3 million.

Barbara Lang, president of the D.C. Chamber of Commerce, told the Washington Post last week she's hoping that Gray or another Democrat also enters the race against Fenty.

"I think there have been definite gains that have happened under Adrian, but I also think we have some real challenges moving forward as well, so I think the city would be well-served by having a robust debate about where the city needs to go," Lang said.

Lang's remarks suggest Fenty - irrespective of his fundraising success - has not been able to fully win over the business community since his 2006 election. In that race, the D.C. Chamber and many business leaders supported then Council Chairman Linda Cropp (D) over Fenty.

Lang said the chamber has always found Gray "to be very smart, very professional and very thoughtful."

"The city would be well served by having Vince as an elected official regardless of whether it's the chairman's race or the mayoral race," Lang said. "He is not someone this city should lose out of public service."

In addition to Lang, the Washington Post editorial board is now also urging Gray to get into the race. In a surprising editorial this morning, given the board's general happiness with the Fenty administration, the board wrote, "the city could benefit from a full-throated debate" between Fenty and Gray.

"A face-off between the rivals would allow for a full airing of the issues," the board concluded.

In a speech Monday night before the Gertrude Stein Club, Gray said he has no timetable for deciding whether he will run.

--Tim Craig

By Anne Bartlett  |  12:21 PM ET, 01/12/2010

Categories:  Tim Craig, Tim Craig, Tim Craig

 
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