D.C. MAYOR Vincent C. Gray (D) began his “State of the District” address Tuesday with an appeal to the city not to believe accusations that he was involved in the wrongdoing that tainted his first mayoral campaign four years ago.
Actually, he began with an appeal to part of the city.
“To some in our city, I’m just another corrupt politician from the other side of town,” Mr. Gray said. It was an unmistakable reference to the whiter areas of the city that are west of his home ward, Ward 7, where he delivered Tuesday’s speech.
The comment came after Mr. Gray’s description of the businessman who has implicated him in knowing about the 2010 illegal “shadow campaign” as “that man who sought to subvert the election of President Barack Obama.” Jeffrey E. Thompson, who is black, supported the 2008 presidential candidacy of Hillary Rodham Clinton.
It is the mayor’s absolute right to deny, as he has repeatedly this week, the allegations Mr. Thompson aired in federal court Monday, of Mr. Gray’s involvement in the illicit events that helped him beat former mayor Adrian M. Fenty in the 2010 Democratic primary. But his not-so-subtle references to race insult every voter.
Concerns about political corruption, character and the honesty of elected officials cut across lines of race, gender, age and religion. Politicians who think it may help their cause to invoke race inevitably only tarnish themselves.
If Mr. Gray wants people to believe he is innocent of the actions attributed to him by Mr. Thompson, he needs to be more forthcoming about the details of his 2010 campaign and his knowledge of events. His refusal to level with the public or to meet with federal investigators was one reason we decided, before this week’s courthouse revelations, to endorse D.C. Council member Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4) in the April 1 Democratic primary. She happens to be African American, too, but race had nothing to do with our choice. Neither did the part of town she or Mr. Gray hails from.
Mr. Gray’s campaign platform in 2010 promised “One City.” Attempts to divide that city now will do him no credit.