Jerry A. Moore III named chairman of Vincent Gray reelection campaign

December 24, 2013

Mayor Vincent Gray files paperwork to run for reelection at the D.C. Board of Elections on Dec. 2. (Cliff Owen/AP)

A prominent Washington attorney with deep ties to the city business establishment was named a chairman of Mayor Vincent C. Gray’s reelection campaign Monday.

Jerry A. Moore III, 67, has been a land-use and government-affairs lawyer for more than three decades. He is also the son of the Rev. Jerry A. Moore Jr., the longtime pastor of Nineteenth Street Baptist Church and a former D.C. Council member, who served as a Republican from 1975 until 1985.

Moore was named Gray’s reelection chairman in a campaign finance filing made just hours before a Monday evening deadline for naming the campaign’s principals.

Gray campaign manager Chuck Thies said Moore is the first of four co-chairs who will be named in the weeks leading up to Gray’s official campaign launch, set for Jan. 11. Thies said he will continue for the time being as the campaign’s treasurer — an unusual arrangement that Thies said is necessitated by his need to quickly hire vendors and staff.

Highlighting the campaign’s lack of infrastructure prior to Gray’s Dec. 2 reelection announcement, Moore said in an interview Tuesday that he was only asked to serve as a chair after Gray made public his intention to run. And he said not much has been discussed to this point in terms of his particular responsibilities or the direction of the campaign: “All of the substantive responsibilities have yet to be determined,” he said, emphasizing he would be only one of several co-chairs.

But Moore said he was glad to serve, saying Gray has done a “great job” as mayor on matters including education, economic development and the city’s finances.

“I am a D.C. voter very concerned with the future of our city,” he said. “If the situation’s not broke, we shouldn’t try to fix it.”

With Gray’s scandal-plagued 2010 campaign continuing to figure into his reelection effort, Moore will assume a high-profile role in keeping the follow-up campaign above board.

Gray’s prior campaign chairman, Lorraine A. Green, was implicated in a illegal scheme to pay off a minor candidate, Sulaimon Brown, to wage verbal attacks on Gray’s main foe, incumbent Adrian M. Fenty. Green has not been charged with a crime, but other campaign figures have pleaded guilty to federal felonies in connection with the scheme.

Moore said Tuesday that Gray did not bring up the 2010 campaign when asking him to serve.

Moore’s business and political connections should serve the late-starting Gray campaign well as it works to catch up with better-funded challengers, including D.C. Council members Jack Evans (D-Ward 2), who has raised over $1 million to date, and Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4), who has raised nearly as much.

Moore can likely draw on a broad Rolodex assembled since his days representing the Greater Washington Board of Trade in the early 1980s to partnerships at two powerhouse D.C. firms, Linowes and Blocher, then Venable. Moore retired from Venable as a partner two years ago but remains of counsel to the firm.

He is also the longtime chairman of the Greater Washington Urban League, serving in that post since 1995, and has a political history of his own: He ran unsuccessfully for an at-large D.C. Council seat in 1994 as an independent, finishing with less than 10 percent of the vote.

Today, Moore said, he is registered as a Democrat, making him eligible to vote in the April 1 primary, where Gray could face as many as a dozen opponents.

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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