Incumbent Mayor Vince Gray concedes defeat in Democratic primary
April 1st, 2014
03:53 PM ET
6 years ago

Incumbent Mayor Vince Gray concedes defeat in Democratic primary

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Washington, D.C. Mayor Vince Gray will not win a second term in office.

The mayor, who has been dogged by ethics questions since his first campaign in 2010, conceded defeat early Wednesday morning to D.C. council member Muriel Bowser in the district's Democratic primary. And shortly after Gray's remarks, Bowser claimed victory in the primary contest.

According to the District of Columbia Board of Elections, Bowser captured 44% of the vote, compared to Gray's 33% with 127 out of 143 precincts reporting.

A spokesman for Bowser had declared victory for the council member earlier in the night, but Bowser waited for the mayor to speak before she gave her acceptance speech.

In a speech focused on his four years of leadership, Gray thanked his supporters, congratulated Bowser on her successful campaign and stressed the need for his supporters to get behind the right candidate in November's general election.

Gray, however, did not endorse Bowser and told CNN after his speech that he had yet to decide whether he will endorse his former rival.

Turnout in the primary was lower than in 2010's contest. Although over 130,000 people voted in the Democratic primary in 2010, only 72,908 had voted in Tuesday's primary.

For the last four years, Gray has led the nation's capital during a time of booming growth and declining crime rates. Washington weathered the national economic downturn that crippled other cities.

But, to many voters, that wasn't the top issue in Tuesday's primary, especially those who have questions about Gray's ethics and his 2010 campaign.

In early March, federal prosecutors sought to link Gray to campaign finance allegations made by Jeffrey Thompson, a Washington businessman who plead guilty to conspiracy for masterminding a nearly $670,000 illegal "shadow campaign" for Gray in 2010.

During the Thompson hearing, prosecutors publicly claimed Gray was aware of the illegal fundraising and had agreed with Thompson to cover it up. Gray has not been charged with any wrongdoing and has vowed that he did not know of the shadow campaign and did nothing wrong.

As polls closed, strategists from both campaigns said they felt confident that their side was going to win.

"We feel very confident," said Everett Hamilton, the Bowser campaign's press secretary. "We have actually been confident about this race since January."

"I have never been worried," added Chuck Thies, Gray's campaign manager. "You shouldn't work in this business if you worry."

And during the day, energy at different polling places was frenetic.

At 8 a.m. on Tuesday, volunteers for Gray and Bowser's respective campaigns were already amped up and ready to go. Standing outside a community college, volunteers chanted, shouted and taunted each other as voters went to the polls in Tuesday's Democratic primary.

Bowser was standing outside the precinct shaking voters' hands as her volunteers chanted "No more years." Bowser's elderly father, Joe, sat in a chair with a bullhorn, chanting right along with the supporters.

"Four more years for Muriel Bowser," he said. "No more years for Vince Gray."

Just minutes after Bowser slipped away for another scheduled stop, Gray's team arrived with cars outfitted with bullhorns playing music and chanting Gray's name.

After arriving, the mayor danced, shook hands and hugged voters as they approached the precinct.

"Given the record that we have, there should be no question about reelection for us," Gray said confidently early in the day. "This city is going in the right direction and I am excited that people see that."

Unlike in years past, where winning the Democratic nomination for mayor meant the winner in November was a foregone conclusion, Bowser is likely to face a challenge from David Catania, an independent council member.

Catania launched an independent bid for the office earlier this month, just two days after federal prosecutors said Gray knew about the 2010 shadow campaign.

In his announcement, the gay former Republican highlighted "the importance of playing by the rules" and "a strong commitment to fairness."

While Bowser faces the likely challenge, she does so from a better position than Gray would have. According to a Washington Post poll released before the primary, Bowser has a 30 percentage point lead on the independent.

Filed under: Democratic Party • Democrats • Political • political speech • Politics • Vincent Gray • Washington D.C.
soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. just asking

    isn't money that is usually passed and not stickers?

    April 1, 2014 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |

    The GOP is all DONE in November running AGAINEST healthcare and they don't even know it yet. What a stupid stratagey to run AGAINEST healthcare for as many people in our country as possible????? If the KOCH brothers spend MILLIZoNS AGAINEST the ACA, IM FOR IT AND you should be too. Do you really think the KOCH brothers CARE if you have HEALTHCARE ??????

    April 1, 2014 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  3. tom l

    I'm voting for Marion Berry!

    April 1, 2014 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  4. Democrat Party - Party of Criminals & Losers

    Who really cares.... It is another Democrat run urban cesspool. Keep up the good work Democrats.

    April 1, 2014 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |