Vincent Gray's first D.C. mayoral race TV ad attacks Adrian Fenty for 'cronyism'

Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, August 25, 2010

D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray will unveil his first television ad on Wednesday, a 30-second spot that accuses Mayor Adrian M. Fenty of enriching his "frat brothers" with tens of millions of dollars in taxpayer money.

The ad, which follows several weeks in which Fenty has had the television airwaves to himself, is part of a coordinated effort by the Gray campaign to shift the focus to the mayor's ethics as the primary race enters its final three weeks.

With polls showing a close race, both Democrats are scrambling to lock in a strategy that they believe will not only woo undecided voters but also mobilize their own supporters to the polls Sept. 14.

There was a new flare-up in an already tense campaign Tuesday when Fenty announced that he thinks that the 72,000 D.C. voters not registered with a political party should be allowed to re-register on Election Day so they can vote in the Democratic primary. Gray is vowing to block the move, setting up a possible court battle.

In Gray's new ad, to air on cable television, he seeks to position himself as the candidate of the working class while accusing Fenty of being most interested in steering contracts to his friends.

"Times are tough for many folks in D.C.," states the ad, set to be officially released Wednesday morning. "But not for Adrian Fenty's cronies."

The ad goes on to accuse Fenty of awarding at least $82 million in city contracts to Sinclair Skinner and Omar Karim, two of the mayor's fraternity brothers who are at the center of a D.C. Council probe into whether the administration illegally awarded contracts without council approval. Skinner and Karim, both of whom have denied wrongdoing, are also featured in a Gray mailer that hit mailboxes this week.

Gray's television ad also takes aim at Peaceoholics co-founder Ronald Moten, calling him "another Fenty crony awarded millions of dollars" in contracts.

"So who's looking out for us?" the ad asks as a photograph of Fenty and Moten flash across the screen. "Vince Gray. He'll end the cronyism."

In an interview Tuesday, Fenty defended the contracts awarded to Karim and Skinner, saying they were competitively bid "through the procurement process."

Fenty said the real focus should be on Gray's record as head of the Department of Human Services in the early 1990s when the city went broke, a theme of the mayor's television ads for weeks.

"We believe he is actually much more vulnerable on how he managed the finances and records of a city government agency," said Fenty, responding to a question about Gray's efforts to link him to Karim and Skinner. "This is a candidate trying to paint a portrait of a candidate which is probably much more applicable to how he ran his agency in the 1990s."

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