Mayor Adrian M. Fenty picked up endorsements Thursday from the Washington Hispanic, a regional Spanish-language newspaper, and from the owners of the local Haydee's restaurants.
Fenty, who is 17 points behind chief rival Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray among likely Democratic voters in a Washington Post poll, rallied his supporters outside a Haydee's in Mount Pleasant and led them in a chant of "Si, se puede."
About 30 to 40 Hispanic residents then loaded into vans to take advantage of early voting and cast ballots for Fenty.
Through an interpreter, Nelly Carrion, director of the Washington Hispanic, said the city is moving in the "right direction."
"I think they are both good people, both good candidates," she said, referring to Fenty and Gray, but "whoever starts the task should be allowed to finish."
Haydee Vanegas, who owns the restaurants with her husband, said Fenty is "for education, for small businesses."
"We see less homeless in the street. We see less crime. It don't matter what people say, he loves people," she said.
Gray has been endorsed by the D.C. Latino Caucus.
Fenty appeared relaxed, shaking hands, sitting down for an interview and eating plantains. Ximena Hartsock, his pick to run the Department of Parks and Recreation but not confirmed by the council, attended the event. Hartsock's confirmation grew more controversial when statements were made that she did not understand black residents.