D.C. Republicans may not be fielding a candidate for mayor this year, but it's becoming increasingly clear they are aligning with incumbent Adrian M. Fenty (D) over Vincent C. Gray in the Sept. 14 Democratic primary.
The D.C. Republican Committee filed a complaint today with the Office of Campaign Finance accusing Gray of violating election law by failing to include the "paid for by" disclaimer on recent advertisements in the Hill Rag newspaper.
"D.C. primary voters deserve to know if the Gray for Mayor campaign violated Office of Campaign Finance laws and we hope your office will immediately investigate this request," Robert Kabel, chairman of the D.C. GOP, wrote to Office of Campaign Finance.
According to copies of the advertisements supplied by the GOP, the ads that appear as if they come from the Gray campaign lack the required disclaimer.
Traci Hughes, a Gray spokeswoman, was not immediately available for comment.
"This is an obvious example of the council chairman not following D.C. code and frankly primary voters and D.C. voters need to know what is going on," said Paul Craney, executive director of the D.C. Republican Committee.
But the fact that local GOP leaders - and not the Fenty campaign - are lodging the complaint underscore a hidden dynamic in this year's election.
It's not unusual for local GOP or Democratic committees to needle candidates in contested primaries from opposing parties. The D.C. Republican Committee, however, has been singularly focused on Gray for months.
Last year, the committee filed a complaint with the Office of Campaign Finance after it was discovered Gray had used his official council stationary to solicit a donation from the D.C. Democratic State Committee. The board cleared Gray of any wrongdoing this spring, but the local GOP is appealing that decision.
While he stopped short of a formal endorsement, executive director of the D.C. Republican Committee, told the Washington Post before Gray got into the race in March that the party would not be fielding a candidate this year because most city Republicans support Fenty.
Craney reitterated Tuesday that many of the city's 19,000 registered Republicans would rather have Fenty than Gray as mayor because they support Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee.
"If you ask most D.C. Republican voters, they prefer Mayor Fenty over Vince Gray," Craney said. "They support Michelle Rhee and that is the consensus of most D.C. Republicans."
Unfortunately for Fenty, however, registered Republicans and independents cannot vote in the Democratic primary. Even with the city's new same-day registration law, voters are not allowed to change their registration within 30 days of an election.