Vincent Gray strikes back at Muriel Bowser, says ‘I enjoy the job’


In a Thursday interview, Gray sounded closer to a reelection bid than ever. (Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post)

Updated 2:15 p.m. with Bowser response

In his first extended interview since the 2014 mayoral race began in earnest, incumbent Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) on Thursday sounded closer than ever to mounting a reelection bid.

Responding to questions from NewsChannel 8 host Bruce DePuyt, Gray mocked D.C. Council member Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4), who launched a mayoral campaign late last month promising to bring new energy and urgency to the city government.

“I don’t know what she’s talking about,” he said. “I think it’s ridiculous. First of all, energy, who has more energy than me? Bruce, I work 16 hours every day, so if she wants to talk about energy, I’d be happy to talk about that.”

“Bring it on, you’re saying,” DePuyt said.

“Exactly,” said Gray, “bring it on.”

Gray, 70, said he has brought urgency to bear on several pressing issues in District government, including the city’s finances, unemployment rate and economic development plans.

“It’s the most preposterous thing I have ever heard,” he said of Bowser’s suggestions. “I would invite her to go back and come up with something better that has some legitimacy.”

But while Gray spent much time touting his accomplishments — pulling out of his coat pocket, at one point, a brochure listing them — he again said he is not ready to discuss a reelection campaign.

“There’s tremendous momentum in the city at this stage,” he said. “The fact of the matter is, I enjoy the job, we have a great team that’s working with us in the city. [But] I have not made a decision. … [Bowser]‘s on her timetable; I’m on mine.”

Bowser, asked to respond, was hesitant to engage in a back-and-forth with Gray: “I’m the only one running. If there’s somebody else running, they should get in the race.”

But Bowser, 40, defended her campaign message: “We’re involved in a campaign that will not be focused on any individual; it will be focused on our vision for the city, which is based on what residents say they’re concerned about — having a focused leader holding agencies accountable and delivering services with dispatch, period.”

Late in the interview, DePuyt raised the key question: Can Gray legitimately seek a second term when a federal investigation into potential criminal wrongdoing in his first mayoral campaign remains incomplete?

“I’ve said I didn’t do anything; I don’t know what else to say,” Gray said. “I’ve turned the issue completely over to my attorney to deal with, and I’ve just gone on to do my job.”

He continued, “I will make a decision on 2014 based on what I think my record is moving forward. I think the record we have is certainly more than defensible. It is, I think, a sterling record, to be honest with you.”

Mike DeBonis covers local politics and government for The Washington Post. He also writes a blog and a political analysis column that runs on Fridays.
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Mike DeBonis · April 4, 2013