The Washington Post

At first mayoral fundraiser, Muriel Bowser takes shot at primary date change

(Mike DeBonis/The Washington Post)

Hail, hail, the gang was all there.

The crowd of at least 200 that swarmed inaugural fundraiser for D.C. Council member Muriel Bowser’s mayoral campaign Thursday evening was, not surprisingly, heavy on backers of former mayor Adrian M. Fenty — starting with the host, former D.C. Council member Bill Lightfoot, the campaign chairman for both the former and hopeful mayors.

Lightfoot greeted the veteran “green machine” members and backers congregated on the tennis court behind his Colonial Village home, snacking on spring rolls, with remarks that would have resonated equally well eight years prior, touting a candidate committed to affordable housing, education and constituent service.

“When you needed a Supercan, who got it for you?” Lightfoot said.

Fenty was never overtly mentioned. Nor, for that matter, was the current mayor, Vincent C. Gray, whose participation in next year’s mayoral race remains undetermined.

But Gray was acknowledged in subtler ways, starting with the “No Cash, No Money Orders” sign posted at the check-in table. And in her remarks, Bowser renewed thinly veiled swipes at Gray’s administration as lacking in urgency and innovation.

“We know this election won’t be about our past,” she said. “It’s going to be about our future, isn’t it? It’s going to be about the next 40 years. And so when we look for a mayor — and you know what people are telling me — we need a mayor who can take us into the future, and that’s exactly what we’re going to work on.”

Bowser pledged to surround herself with “the best, the brightest and the hardest-working” in assembling her governing team. “We can do better,” she said. “This is the nation’s capital.”

She closed with a warning to her campaign backers, and a reference to a proposal floated by her council colleagues this week to move next year’s primaries from April to June.

“We’re going to have to work harder, longer, smarter than anybody out there,” Bowser said, adding, “We’re going to have to watch out for anything they try to pull on us, aren’t we? … Now they’re so scared they’re trying to change the election date.”

“But that’s okay,” she continued. “They’re just going to give us two more months to knock on more doors, to put up more yard signs, and win an election for the future of the District of Columbia.”

Mike DeBonis covers Congress and national politics for The Washington Post. He previously covered D.C. politics and government from 2007 to 2015.



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