Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray won a citywide Democratic straw poll for mayor Saturday with a whopping 703 votes. Incumbent Mayor Adrian M. Fenty drew 190 votes, followed by 75 for former television reporter Leo Alexander. Other candidates posted single-digit outcomes, according to the unofficial results.
Seventy-four provisional ballots were not included in the totals that were released.
The victory at the D.C. Democratic State Convention was a major boost for the Gray campaign, which faltered at the Ward 8 Democrats' straw poll when Peaceoholics co-founder Ron Moten organized youths to vote for Fenty. Though Gray was ultimately declared the winner after provisional ballots could not be declared valid, the Fenty campaign showed that it was prepared and organized in a ward where Gray is heavily favored in polls.
On Saturday at Howard University School of Law, Gray volunteers blanketed the area with his blue signs in the morning. When Fenty supporters arrived in the afternoon, they had to scurry to create an equal presence with signs and stickers.
Fenty was clearly outmatched and was booed, as well as cheered by supporters, during a forum for mayoral candidates.
Fenty has struggled to win over many active members of the local Democratic State Committee since the national convention in Denver in 2008 when he missed the local delegation's breakfasts there. In one case, he was the guest speaker and a no-show.
In other straw polls held Saturday, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton also had a landslide victory of 732 to 171 against Doug Sloan. At-Large Council member Kwame R. Brown handily beat former council member Vincent B. Orange 585 to 329 in the race to replace Gray as chairman. Incumbent Council member Phil Mendelson (At Large) kept challenger Clark Ray at bay with a 512 to 243 victory.
Incumbent council members Tommy Wells (Ward 6), Jim Graham (Ward 1) and Harry Thomas (Ward 5) all came out on top against their competitors.
But Thomas appeared the most threatened, winning 116 votes compared with 94 for Delano Hunter, who was well-organized and drew voters who want a referendum on gay marriage.
All the candidates have been using the straw polls to show an ability to organize and to gain momentum, but past results show that they are unreliable in predicting Election Day. In the 2006 contest for mayor, Orange, then-Council Chairman Linda W. Cropp and current at-large Council member Michael Brown won straw polls. Fenty swept every precinct in the Democratic primary.