Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) is expected to attend a fundraiser tonight for newly-appointed Council member Sekou Biddle, a signal the mayor could get behind the Democrat before he has to stand for election April 26.
According to sources close to Biddle and Gray, the mayor will attend the fundraiser at Smith Commons on H Street in Northeast. The event is being organized by Darryl Rose, a local businessman who is close to Biddle.
An e-mail advertising the event states Gray is "confirmed to attend," but a Gray spokeswoman was not immediately available to comment.
On Jan. 6, the D.C. Democratic State Committee selected Biddle over former council member Vincent C. Orange to temporarily fill the seat left vacant when Kwame Brown was elected chairman.
In the days leading up to the vote, Biddle was endorsed by Brown and four other council members. Lorraine Green, one of Gray's closet friends and advisers, also endorsed Biddle before the vote. Green's decision to wade into the race was widely viewed as a signal that Gray also favored Biddle over Orange.
But Gray ultimately stayed out of that contest. Although Washington Post reporter Nikita Stewart spotted Gray's advance team at a fundraiser for Biddle at Ben's Chili Bowl on the eve of the state committee vote, the mayor never arrived.
To keep his seat, Biddle must compete against several other candidates in the April special election. The list of potential candidates includes Orange, Ward 1 activist Bryan Weaver, former Fenty adviser Josh Lopez, Ward 2 activist Wayne Dickson, former Democratic National Committeewoman Mary Eva Candon and Republican school board member Patrick Mara.
Although it's unclear whether Gray will formally endorse Biddle tonight, the mayor has indicated he hopes Democrats rally around one candidate to help keep the seat out of GOP hands.
If Gray enters the fray, he could help Biddle raise money and quickly set up the organization needed to compete in a citywide race. Gray also could scare other Democrats from entering the race.
But Gray's involvement could also help energize some of Biddle's opponents. Some bloggers and activists argue Biddle is too connected to the city's Democratic establishment and would be a reliable vote on the council for Gray and Brown.
Yet, Biddle appears to be rapidly lining up local political heavy hitters behind his campaign. In addition to Rose, tonight's fundraiser is being co-hosted by Tiffany Rose, Scottie Irving, David Wilmont, Brett Greene, Tony Walsh, Ed Hubbard, Casey Stringer and Darryl Wiggins.