Presumptive mayor Vincent C. Gray has been basing his campaign around a "one city" vision for the District where all residents work together to try to address its challenges.
But Gray said nothing Thursday as he watched Joslyn Williams, president of the Metropolitan Washington Central Labor Council, tell a group of Democrats that Republicans are not welcome in city government.
Gray joined several council members and local Democratic activists at a get-out-the vote rally sponsored by the D.C. Democratic State Committee.
In the closing address, Williams said the District is "owned, governed by Democrats."
"This is one-city owned by Democrats," said Williams, as Gray stood behind him.
Williams said Republicans and Independents are "welcome to stay here."
"You're welcome to pay your taxes, but you're not welcome to govern the city," he added.
Williams's fiery message, aimed at trying to persuade voters not to support any of the four Republicans seeking council seats this year, appears to run counter to Gray's message of inclusion.
In the aftermath of the Sept. 14 Democratic primary, Gray has been reaching out to independents and Republicans, some of whom are contemplating writing in Mayor Adrian M. Fenty's name in the general election. Although three out of four District voters are registered Democrat, the city is home to about 30,000 Republicans and an additional 73,000 residents who are not registered with a political party.
In an interview with Washington Post reporter Nikita Stewart after the rally, Gray dismissed Williams's comments as rhetoric.
"I think he wants one city as much as I do," Gray said. "It's just to get the Democrats fired up."