Is Mayor Vincent Gray running for reelection?


Gray chats with Frances Johnson during a July 9 walk-through in Ward 8. (Marvin Joseph / The Washington Post)

If you read Saturday’s front-pager from Paul Schwartzman and myself, you’ll know we have four mayoral candidates but not much of a mayoral race just yet. That’s in no small part because the incumbent, Vincent C. Gray, hasn’t yet decided whether or not to seek a second term.

So when will he?

As the Saturday article’s tea-leaf-reading makes clear, Gray is not outwardly weary with the job. He’s hitting the streets more than ever, with a full schedule of neighborhood walk-throughs and other community events. His remarks there, touting the city’s progress, have a flair of a campaign stump speech. He’s recently started handing out cards explaining “Why the District of Columbia Is the Place to Be,” featuring various accolades from being the “#1 New Tech Hot Spot,” as declared by Forbes, to the “Best U.S. Family Destination,” according to ABC Travel Guides for Kids.

Several aides close to the mayor on a day-to-day basis, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media, said they take the mayor at his word when he says he hasn’t decided whether to run again. But they also assume he will run barring any major developments in the federal investigation into his 2010 campaign, and they expect a final decision to be made not long after Labor Day.

As discussed in the article, a late entry into the race is not necessarily a disadvantage. An incumbent mayor has ready avenues for fundraising, and every month Gray doesn’t have a campaign, it’s a month he doesn’t have to pay rent on a campaign office or pay salaries for campaign staffers. But while Gray believes he can pull together a campaign operation quickly should he decide to run, that requires building a certain amount of infrastructure — especially daunting considering the investigation has disqualified many key figures from the 2010 campaign — and those closest to the mayor are keeping mum on precisely what steps have been taken so far to do so.

Bruce Bereano — the Annapolis superlobbyist and fraternity brother of the mayor who will likely play a major role in organizing a reelect effort — acknowledged that Gray’s future in office has been the subject of “a lot of conversations” between the two. He declined, however, to shed any light on the mayor’s thinking: “It is his decision to make and his decision to express,” he said Friday. “I will support him in anything he does.”

But Bereano, who has overcome his own troubles with federal authorities, said Gray is “rejuvenated” and “upbeat” and his “spirits are fabulous,” and he also dismissed any infrastructural concerns. “Timetables are different for incumbents,” he said. “There is nothing timewise that, in my personal opinion, concerns me.”

And asked about Gray’s ability to raise funds, he said, “Personally, I don’t have concerns.”

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 · July 16, 2013