Dave Hedgepeth, the Republican candidate for council in Ward 3, will announce tomorrow that he's endorsing Democrat Adrian M. Fenty in the mayor's race.
Hedgepeth, who will face Council member Mary M. Cheh (D) in the November election, said his support for Fenty will set up a clear contrast between him and his Democratic opponent.
Cheh remains officially neutral, but based on her public statements many observers believe she will be voting for Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray (D) in the Sept. 14 Democratic mayoral primary.
And Hedgepeth said Cheh's stance puts her at odds with a majority of the voters in Upper Northwest, where polls show Fenty remains popular because of his efforts to reform schools.
"I am endorsing the mayor because on the most important issues to me and Ward 3, I think the mayor and (Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee) have compiled great records worthy of a second term," Hedgepeth said. "Given his record, Mayor Fenty deserves my support as a Republican."
Hedgepeth's decision to endorse Fenty -- even though he can't vote for him in the primary - falls in line with the decision of local GOP leaders not to field a Republican candidate for mayor this year. Paul Craney, executive director of the D.C. Republican Committee, has said most local Republicans support Fenty and Rhee so the party decided not to challenge the mayor.
Hedgepeth will hold a press conference at 11 a.m. Tuesday in front of the John A. Wilson Building to accuse Cheh of "hiding behind a stance of neutrality" in the mayor's race.
"If you look at this race as an education race, you have to ask yourself why Mary Cheh is taking a pass on this?" Hedgepeth asked. "I can't vote (in the primary) but she can."
In an interview, Cheh appeared unconcerned by her opponent's efforts to align himself with Fenty.
"If he thinks as a Republican his endorsement of the mayor is persuasive among residents in Ward 3, then by all means he should have a press conference," Cheh said.
Cheh is also sending signals her official stance of neutrality may not last much longer. She said she already begun telling voters "one-on-one" who she plans to vote for.
"As people come back (from vacation) and with public and private schools starting, people are beginning to focus on the election," Cheh said. "I have been getting a number of questions of about what my own view is, and what my own vote will be, and at some point, I may go more public."