Fenty Spokesman-Strategist Is Fired as Election Day Nears
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
D.C. Democratic mayoral nominee Adrian M. Fenty fired his chief spokesman yesterday, shocking staff members and shaking up his campaign two weeks before the general election.
In a telephone call before breakfast, Fenty informed Alec Evans, who has been his spokesman for a year, that he would be relieved of his duties immediately.
Evans, 27, not only worked closely with reporters, but also advised Fenty on campaign strategy and helped develop Fenty's youthful, energetic image. He was often seen near Fenty, entering information into Fenty's two BlackBerry devices or fetching the candidate vitamin water as he campaigned.
Fenty, the Ward 4 D.C. Council representative, defeated council Chairman Linda W. Cropp in the September primary, collecting 57 percent of the vote. He is expected to win the election Nov. 7 easily because three-fourths of the city's registered voters are Democrats. Evans was expected to fill a key communications role in a Fenty administration.
Evans, a 2001 graduate of Haverford College, was part of a group of young Fenty aides including Tene Dolphin, 34, campaign chief of staff; William Singer, 25, who handles legislative affairs; and John Falcicchio, 27, who heads fundraising.
But the youth and inexperience of the staff have raised eyebrows among city officials, some of whom question whether Fenty, 35, has anyone senior enough to challenge his decision making.
Evans accompanied Fenty to New York last week and told a reporter two days ago that he would go with Fenty on a three-day excursion to California that begins tomorrow.
Yesterday, however, Fenty said Evans would not be on the trip, during which Fenty is to meet with the mayors of Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Other staff members will share Evans's duties temporarily, Fenty said, with a replacement to be named later. He declined to comment on why he fired Evans, calling the issue a personnel matter. Evans also declined to comment when contacted yesterday afternoon.
"I'm very surprised," said council member Phil Mendelson (D-At Large), for whom Evans worked as chief of staff for several years before joining Fenty's team. "I have only the highest regard for him. I had the utmost trust in him, and I think he has great political instincts."
Sources close to the campaign said Fenty and Evans had differed on Evans's role, particularly since the primary.
Fenty, a marathon runner, is known for his tireless pace, and staff members say he expects them to match it.
Evans focused on dealing with reporters, but Fenty also assigned him to attend staff meetings and other events. He was absent more than once, and Fenty warned him about losing focus, said the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the campaign continues.
Evans worked long hours, attending forums and walking with Fenty door to door at times. But he sought to carve out more time for his personal life after the primary, staff members said.
Some of the staffers seemed hopeful that Fenty and Evans would reconcile in a few days and that Evans would return to the campaign.