Gray defeats Fenty as voters choose conciliatory approach over brash tactics

Mayoral candidate Vincent C. Gray charts the course ahead for D.C. the day after defeating incumbent Adrian Fenty in the democratic primary.
By Tim Craig and Nikita Stewart
Wednesday, September 15, 2010; 3:40 AM

D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray won the Democratic nomination for mayor, as voters rejected incumbent Adrian M. Fenty's hard-charging style in favor of promises of a new, conciliatory approach to governing a fast-changing city.

Tuesday's vote marked only the third time in District history that D.C. residents have ousted a sitting mayor. Gray even beat Fenty in his home precinct in Crestwood with 56 percent of the vote.

At 2:30 a.m., Fenty campaign spokesman Sean Madigan said campaign workers had arranged for the mayor to call Gray conceding the race. "We reached out to the campaign so that the mayor can get in touch with him first thing in the morning," Madigan said.

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At 1:50 a.m., Gray celebrated his 53 percent to 46 percent victory by asking joyful supporters to honor the man he defeated: "Despite our differences, I know well that Adrian Fenty shares our commitment to this city." But Gray supporters, some of them holding signs saying "BYE!" over a photo of Fenty, immediately broke into a loud chorus of "Nah, Nah, Hey, Hey, Kiss Him Goodbye."

Elections officials said that votes from 15 of the city's 143 precincts had not been counted by 2:30 a.m. but that the results from those areas were unlikely to affect the outcome.

Gray, 67, led nonprofit social service groups in the District before entering elective politics five years ago. He decided only in late March to forsake his easy path to reelection as chairman and instead take on a well-funded, telegenic mayor who boasted of a long list of achievements.

"To those who say you can't have both collaboration and reform," Gray told cheering supporters, "I say you are wrong. . . . We were outraised, outspent and outnumbered, but we were never outworked."

Fenty, the youngest mayor in the four decades of home rule, drew national accolades for his efforts to reform schools; oversaw a dramatic decline in the homicide rate; and led a successful drive to build neighborhood amenities such as recreational centers, dog parks and athletic fields.

But despite the mayor's frenetic, expensive efforts to promote his accomplishments in all eight wards, he was unable to reverse the widespread belief among black Washingtonians that he favored residents of predominantly white, wealthier neighborhoods.

Gray appeared to have beaten Fenty in the city's majority-black wards, rolling up massive margins east of the Anacostia River.

Fenty appeared before supporters at 1:18 a.m., refusing to concede and rallying his troops with a battle cry of "On to victory."

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