His Highness the Mayor

Saturday, May 16, 2009

If the election for D.C. mayor were held today, Adrian Fenty would romp to victory. If the balloting occurred six months from now, he would still win easily. A year from now? Probably the same result. And on Sept. 14, 2010, the date of the Democratic primary election? Quite likely he would still land in the winner's circle.

You can't beat somebody with nobody, goes the saying. And there's no one on the horizon to give Fenty much of a challenge.

That said, Adrian Fenty is not invincible. There's dissatisfaction in the land, not overwhelming but hard to ignore.

The mayor out and about in the District of Columbia is not the candidate who captured all 142 precincts in the 2006 Democratic mayoral primary. There's a different man in office today. People seem to know it.

To be sure, today's Adrian Fenty continues to turn up at public events with the same regularity displayed by the hard-working candidate who never let two or more gather without finding a way to end up in their midst.

He's still quick with the smile and handshake, still good with names, still works the crowds, and makes all the photo ops. No D.C. government good deed gets announced without his presence.

But nowadays, something else comes with him when he shows up on the scene. There is a certain haughtiness in Fenty's bearing, a trace of scorn in his demeanor, a sense of self-importance that was not present (or at least was not noticeable) in him before.

The word that comes to mind, and which frequently slips out of the mouths of people who spend time observing the mayor, is "arrogance."

Now to be fair, who wouldn't find it hard not to get a big head if, in the twinkling of an eye, he went from having to scrounge tickets to a Howard University homecoming football game to having his own box at Verizon Center and a seat of honor in the House gallery for a presidential address?

From staff member on the D.C. Council's education committee to the District's chief executive within six years? That's almost enough to make the head spin . . . and the ego grow.

Just think: One day the heavy hitters around town are ignoring your long-shot run for mayor, leaving your phone calls unreturned; two years later, you're sitting on top of a $2 million reelection campaign kitty and a list of donors that would make council Chairman Vincent Gray and any other mayoral wannabes weep with envy.

Talk about fat city.

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