Haze of controversy
Gray, a 68-year-old Ward 7 resident who began his political career in 2004, is under a haze of controversy. The FBI, U.S. attorney’s office, a congressional committee and the D.C. Council have launched probes into allegations by fired city employee and former mayoral candidate Sulaimon Brown that the Gray campaign paid him and promised him a job for lobbing insults at Fenty during last year’s campaign. Gray has denied the allegations.
There are already some rumblings of a recall effort among Gray defectors and die-hard Fenty supporters. A Web site — Recallvincegray.com — recently launched.
Jane Johnson, a retired physiologist, has taken a told-you-so attitude. “We have declined in popularity, integrity and leadership,” said Johnson, who lives in Ward 4. “I expected it. What I call political bullying ousted the mayor [Fenty]. I knew we would have this scenario. Now we find out that it was possibly orchestrated and paid for.”
Gray defeated Fenty 54 percent to 44 percent in last year’s Democratic primary, riding into office on an anti-Fenty sentiment and the campaign slogan “Character. Integrity. Leadership.” In the new poll, 45 percent of Democratic voters say that Gray is honest and trustworthy, compared with 61 percent of registered Democrats who said so in August.
Fenty, widely criticized as arrogant during his term, sees his numbers seesawing in the other direction in the new poll. With his term firmly in the rearview mirror, 56 percent of registered voters say they approve of the way Fenty did his job, a significantly rosier assessment than before he lost to Gray.
Fenty hit a high of 72 percent in Post polling after his first year in office. In polls taken at different points in their administrations, Gray’s immediate four predecessors — Sharon Pratt, Marion Barry, Anthony A. Williams and Fenty — enjoyed highs ranging from 54 percent to 77 percent.
Gray’s initial ratings, by contrast, are middling. While 41 percent approve of his job performance, nearly as many — 40 percent — disapprove. A potential opening for the mayor is that fewer than a quarter of all residents have “strongly”-held views of his tenure so far, and two in 10 express no opinion at all.
District residents continue to give relatively high marks to city services, including the job of police officers and the quality of parks and recreation facilities. Ratings in both categories are at record high points in Post polls.
Besides Gray’s administration controversies, investigations have also been launched into the actions of some members of the council, including Kwame R. Brown. Some 36 percent of District residents have unfavorable views of the new chairman, who was hit with a formal complaint by the Office of Campaign Finance that his 2008 at-large reelection campaign failed to account for tens of thousands of dollars in donations. Slightly fewer, 30 percent, have positive views, and the rest are uncertain. Brown has also faced scrutiny over his requests for a taxpayer-paid luxury SUV with black-on-black interior, a DVD player and other features that led to the leasing of two vehicles.