Backers said they think that Bowser can harness Fenty’s enduring popularity in the white-majority portions of the city while rebuilding relations with black voters he alienated as mayor. Bowser hails from a politically active family with deep roots in Ward 5, the heart of working-class Washington, and represents middle-class Ward 4, which traditionally has the city’s highest voter turnout.
In speeches at an August birthday fundraiser and at her January swearing-in, she has sought to portray herself as able to reconcile divisions of race, class and geography. “We want to be proud of where we live and we want to have the opportunity to participate in the bountiful growth that is the District of Columbia — and like you, we don’t want to be left behind,” she said in January.
According to the Post poll, Bowser is better known among African Americans than whites, although a higher proportion of black residents holds an unfavorable impression of her than white residents do (15 percent vs. 6 percent).
Several key Fenty advisers, including campaign chairman Bill Lightfoot and strategist Tom Lindenfeld, are likely to reprise those roles for Bowser. Both declined to comment ahead of the Saturday announcement.
The rollout has shades of Fenty’s successful 2006 run: He was the first to enter that race, kicking off his run in front of his childhood home in Mount Pleasant.
One significant difference is that the District’s 2014 election cycle will be the first mayoral race to feature an April primary. Previously, primary elections took place in September.
Evans, reiterating Monday that he intends to run for mayor, said he did not see a particular advantage to being the first to enter the race. Candidates can build support for a run, he said, without launching a formal campaign.
“I think that everyone has their own timetable,” he said. “The value of having a campaign is being able to raise money.”
Scott Clement contributed to this report.