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Five things you don’t know about Muriel Bowser, promising ‘fresh start’ as D.C. mayor

D.C. mayoral candidate and council member Muriel Bowser gives PostTV a tour of her Riggs Park home and answers four questions about who she is and why she's running.​ (Theresa Poulson/The Washington Post)

Muriel Bowser, who represents Ward 4 on the D.C. Council, is seeking to separate herself from fellow Democratic challengers to Mayor Vincent C. Gray, promising to give the city a “fresh start” in the mayor’s office. Here’s five things you might not know about the 41-year-old Riggs Park resident:

1. She’s the “baby” of a big family. Bowser’s the youngest child of Joan Bowser, a nurse, and Joe Bowser, a D.C. Public Schools facilities manager and community activist. The family, her folks say, was close-knit, and, when Muriel was a toddler in the early 1970s, went on a cross-county road trip together, driving from D.C. to California in a Dodge van. Occasionally, public service would intrude into family outings, her father said: If he spied something amiss at a city school, he would make the whole family wait in the car while he checked it out.

2. She never asked for Adrian Fenty’s endorsement. Bowser was famously thrust into the political spotlight in 2006, when the presumptive mayor endorsed her to fill the council seat he was vacating. The morning after the primary, Bowser recalls, she spoke to her father, who encouraged her to run for the seat. She said she was reticent to bother Fenty, but left him a brief message asking to chat. Later that afternoon, Fenty called her at work. “He said, ‘Bowser, you know, this Ward 4 seat is up; you should think about running.’ I said, ‘Oh, okay.’” She launched her campaign later that week.

3. She used to be a Tourmobile guide and State Farm rep. One summer job had Bowser leading tours on the once-ubiquitous buses that plied the National Mall and other tourist sites. And after college, she worked as a claims representative for State Farm Insurance before deciding to leave for graduate school. “I got a taste of the corporate life,” she said. “I just knew that chasing the company’s bottom line wasn’t going to inspire me.” But her parents credit her insurance know-how with getting them quickly back on their feet after the Bowser family home burned down several years ago.

4. “Smells Like Teen Spirit” is her favorite song. When she was inaugurated in 2011 to her second full term as council member, Bowser highlighted her diverse musical tastes in her speech, namechecking performers from Jay-Z to the B-52’s. But her ultimate jam, she said, is Nirvana’s 1993 grunge anthem. “I love that song,” she said. “I just got into it. . . . I was into college when that was out. That was my alternative period.” And no matter the kind of music, she likes it loud.

5. She’s a mixologist. Bowser says she’s a frequent juicer — as in creating her own fruit and vegetable smoothies. She prefers green vegetables, but she’ll throw an apple in for a sweeter note. When she unwinds in the colder months, Bowser prefers Manhattans. When it’s warmer, her signature drink is “Muriel’s Vodka Limonata” — that’s a highball of coconut-flavored Ciroc Vodka and San Pellegrino lemon soda. “It’s the best summertime drink ever,” she said.

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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