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D.C. Council’s Wells begins exploratory campaign for mayor

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D.C. Council member Tommy Wells began his exploratory campaign for mayor Monday, posting a video message vowing to fight for a “new vision” for the city before holding a meeting with potential supporters in Anacostia.

Wells, who is vying to become the District’s first white mayor, has been hinting for months that he is likely to enter the 2014 Democratic primary for mayor.

By declaring an exploratory effort, Wells (Ward 6) can start raising money for a campaign that could pit him against council member Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4) and Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D).

“It’s time for a new vision, a vision that includes livable, walkable neighborhoods, which includes neighborhood schools that you love, fresh food and great transit to get you where you want to get to,” Wells said in his video, which was filmed with him standing near the National Portrait Gallery in Chinatown.

Wells, a former social worker and head of the District’s Consortium for Child Welfare, is in his second term on the council. On Monday night, he held his first meet-and-greet at Big Chair Coffee & Grill in Anacostia, a sign he plans to campaign heavily in neighborhoods east of the Anacostia River.

About two dozen activists ate chicken wings and meatballs as Wells spoke about his background as an activist and former school board member as well as his vision for ethics changes and a greener, more sustainable city.

Wells advisers hope he can quickly raise $200,000 for his exploratory effort, the maximum allowed for an exploratory campaign under city campaign finance laws. He could formally enter the race this summer.

Bowser, an ally of former mayor Adrian M. Fenty’s (D), is also reportedly interested in the mayor’s race. But she has declined to comment on Wells’s effort or provide a timetable for when she could launch her campaign.

Gray, whose 2010 campaign is under federal investigation, has said it is too early to speak about whether he plans to seek reelection next year.

Pedro Ribeiro, a Gray spokesman, said Monday the mayor is “focused on running the city.”

“We are talking about something more than a year away, so it’s kind of early to be talking about that,” Ribeiro said.

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