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Evans Switches Support To Obama

Jack Evans, center, joins hands with Mayor Adrian Fenty and Chairman Vincent Gray at a cookout to kick off Evans's reelection bid.
Jack Evans, center, joins hands with Mayor Adrian Fenty and Chairman Vincent Gray at a cookout to kick off Evans's reelection bid. (By Nikita Stewart -- The Washington Post)

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By Nikita Stewart and Marcia Davis
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, May 22, 2008

D.C. Council member Jack Evans knows how to party -- and how to send a message.

The Ward 2 Democrat threw a big cookout Saturday to kick off his reelection bid. He used the occasion to give a shout-out to Sen. Barack Obama, who has been busy lately trying to lock up the Democratic presidential nomination.

The rub? Evans has long been a supporter of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.). But Evans has decided to join the march of superdelegates who have begun to close ranks around the Democratic junior senator from Illinois.

Evans said he switched his support because Ward 2 overwhelmingly voted for Obama in the D.C. primary in February. He said he is most concerned about having a Democratic White House.

"There is an enormous difference in having a Democrat in the White House and a Republican in the White House," Evans said to the cheers of about 300 people on the basketball court of the Kennedy Recreation Center in the historic Shaw neighborhood.

It probably didn't hurt that Evans had some heavy pressure on him. He made the announcement with Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) and council Chairman Vincent C. Gray (D), who are supporting Obama, by his side. Evans has gained their support in his reelection campaign.

Evans called the recreation center a symbol of the city's ups and downs. The center was dedicated in 1968 by Sen. Robert F. Kennedy (D-N.Y.) on behalf of his brother, after the riots in the wake of the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. It was a boost for the area at the time, Evans said.

Then, "by the beginning of the '90s, nobody came here," he said.

Pointing to a new playground and a renovated Kennedy Recreation Center with its surrounding development, Evans hailed a new era of revitalization.

He might have been sending a shout-out to Obama, but he was also sending a message to his challenger, lawyer Cary Silverman.

Evans made sure he had his political allies and his deep pockets on display. He told the crowd he is running a campaign on "youth and energy."

"It's time for a change, and the change is me," said Evans, a 17-year incumbent.

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