D.C. mayoral rivals make final pitches to voters

Voters in D.C. cast ballots Tuesday in the closely watched Democratic primary race for mayor between Adrian Fenty and Vincent C. Gray.
By Mike DeBonis and Tim Craig
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, September 12, 2010

Leading candidates for the District mayoralty kicked off the final stretch of campaigning Saturday, seeking to get their voters to the polls before the end of voting Tuesday.

Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) began his day mobilizing about 100 volunteers downtown, while main rival D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray (D) whipped up about 200 supporters in a raucous "pep rally" at a Shaw church.

In comments to his supporters, Fenty compared his reelection campaign to a footrace.

"We want to make sure . . . that we're just sprinting to the finish line," said Fenty, an elite-level athlete who is set to participate in the Nation's Triathlon on Sunday morning. "When we race, we race to win."

Gray, widely believed to be the front-runner, used both candidates' campaign colors to rally his supporters.

"Over the last few months, this city has become a sea of blue," Gray said at the rally, held in the gymnasium of Shiloh Baptist Church. "I know a bunch of other people who are green with envy."

After more than two dozen forums and debates, Fenty and Gray are using the final three days of campaigning to sharpen their messages and step up efforts to get supporters to the polls.

After the Fenty rally, volunteers equipped with maps piled into rented vans and headed into city neighborhoods to canvass for votes.

Among the mostly young volunteers were several Fenty administration officials, including schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee, who was assigned to visit homes in Tenleytown.

"I'm going to do whatever they tell me to do," she said.

But Rhee's emergence on the stump remains controversial to some people. At the Gray rally, a member of the State Board of Education said she was alarmed by Rhee's door-to-door campaigning.

"I think it is inappropriate for any superintendent of a school system to campaign for an elected official," said Lisa Raymond, who represents Ward 6 on the elected board, which sets standards for city schools. "A superintendent is supposed to represent all children, all families, not just those who support one individual."

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