Numerous District Republicans received an automated phone call over the weekend urging them to write-in Mayor Adrian M. Fenty's name on their ballots in the Nov. 2 general election.
The caller told Republicans they should support Fenty (D) instead of D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray, the Democratic nominee for mayor, if they don't want to reverse the city's recent progress. The call, which stated it was aimed at GOP voters, also blamed Gray for ousting Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee.
But neither the D.C. Republican Committee nor the Write Fenty In campaign is taking credit for the call.
Paul Craney, executive director of the D.C. Republican Committee, said the party is focusing on the council ward races and is not officially endorsing the Fenty write-in campaign, even though there is no GOP nominee in the mayor's race
"We have nothing to do with it," Craney said.
Josh Lopez, a leader of the Write Fenty In campaign, also said his organization did not pay for or sponsor the calls.
So who did it? Political strategist say robo calls are cheap to produce and send so it wouldn't take a well-financed operation to produce them. But at the very least, the producers would have to have access to voting lists with the names and phone numbers of registered Republicans.
In an overwhelmingly Democratic city, it's not totally unreasonable to speculate that perhaps a Gray supporter organized the calls to try to tie the write-in effort to the local GOP. If local Democrats believed the Fenty write-in campaign was sponsored by the GOP, it could help rally Democrats to the polls for the general election.
But Mo Elleithee, a Gray strategist, said the Gray campaign had nothing to do with the calls.
"I can assure you, it's not in our interest to urge anyone to write in Fenty," Elleithee said.
Even though they are denying this round of calls, Lopez said the Write Fenty In campaign may turn to robo calls in the coming weeks to try to get its message out.