Vincent Gray wins key business endorsement


D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray is getting an appropriately incumbent-like string of endorsements. (Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post)

Mayor Vincent C. Gray won the backing of the D.C. Chamber of Commerce’s political arm Tuesday, adding a major business nod to what has been a labor-heavy portfolio of endorsements.

The chamber endorsement comes precisely four weeks before the Democratic primary and less than two weeks before early-voting locations open. A statement released by the business group’s political action committee cited Gray’s “solid record of economic development, job creation, fiscal responsibility and stable government” — singling out his “One City, One Hire” employment program and his efforts to beef up the city’s Workforce Investment Council — in justifying a second consecutive endorsement.

“Mayor Gray is the best candidate to continue the District’s positive trajectory in serving its citizens and improving D.C. as a place to do business,” said David Julyan, a lawyer and lobbyist who chairs the PAC.

Gray can now claim broad support across traditional fault lines after garnering backing from several major unions, including the Service Employees International Union and a key city employees union. He has also won support from both the largest hotel employees union and the trade group for hotel owners and operators in the city.

Recent polls from The Washington Post and other media outlets show him leading his seven Democratic challengers, but the surveys also indicate that Gray is seriously vulnerable should any of his opponents gain traction. D.C. Council member Muriel Bowser (Ward 4) prevailed in two early straw polls of voters in key wards for Gray, and showed some momentum in the most recent polling; more recently, Gray won straw poll votes from groups of Latino and Asian American Democrats.

Gray said Monday that he felt like his campaign was in good stead as it heads down the home stretch. “We’re going to keep working as hard as we possibly can,” he said. “The energy is high.”

Mike DeBonis covers Congress and national politics for The Washington Post. He previously covered D.C. politics and government from 2007 to 2015.
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