City Desk

Don Peebles: ‘My Inclination Is to Run’

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D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray is reportedly announcing a mayoral run tomorrow, and if you think that R. Donahue Peebles—his main company in the will-he-run-or-won't-he-run derby—will be standing beside him offering an endorsement, think again.

Continuing a pattern that's played out several times in recent months, just when it seems Peebles might fade into a behind-the-scenes role, the deep-pocketed developer makes it perfectly clear that he thinks he's the best man to take on incumbent Adrian M. Fenty, end of story.

"My inclination is to run," he said this evening. "I will be a very competitive candidate, and I will win."

Such self-confidence notwithstanding, Peebles says he has not made a final decision. That will come this week, as he joins his family for a Spring Break excursion to the Caribbean. When he returns next week, he says, he'll have a decision ready—based on, he says, what's best for his family and his business, in that order.

And if that means Peebles plays spoiler, so be it. Or so he says.

"I am a big believer in giving voters as many choices as possible," Peebles said. "Back-room deals, smoke-filled rooms, they don't turn out the way people want them."

The "smoke-filled room" line refers to discussions—both alluded to by Gray and caught on camera—that Peebles and Gray would come to a gentleman's understanding that only one of them would run for the mayor's spot on the premise that Fenty could only be defeated in a head-to-head battle.

Peebles happens to reject that premise out of hand: "I'm confident [a three-way race] doesn't mean an Adrian Fenty victory," he tells LL. "I think when you try to engineer the race, voters see through that." He even cited some history: The 1990 race between stalwart politicos Dave Clarke, Walter Fauntroy, and John Ray, where Sharon Pratt came from nowhere to win a term as mayor.

Peebles, in fact, is quite conversant with historical precedent, citing mayoral races in 1978, 1990, 1994, 1998, and 2006 as proof that little-regarded candidates can enter late and/or under-resourced and/or underestimated and still finish triumphant.

In a 20-minute conversation this evening, Peebles spoke fluidly but hewed to a well-refined set of talking points: that the city is economically divided; that economic development is needed in underserved neighborhoods; and that that he's the best candidate to make that happen.

He also made the case that he's the candidate best equipped to take on the well-financed, energetic incumbent. "Adrian Fenty is a great campaigner," said Peebles. "I would not underestimate him. It's about who is willing to work as hard or harder than Adrian, who has the capacity to finance a campaign like Adrian Fenty."

That line encapsulates the conventional wisdom doubting a Gray run: that's he too old, at 67, to run again Fenty, 39; and that he doesn't have the fundraising muscle to match up with Fenty's $4 million war chest.

But that veiled slam is as far that Peebles is willing to go in criticizing Gray—which, in LL's mind, leaves the door open for a late-race reconciliation. "I have nothing but great respect for him," Peebles said, adding that "I'd prefer to see him remain as chair of the city council and be a good partner." (Since Gray appears not to be doing so, Peebles already has a preference for his replacement: "Kwame Brown would make a great chairman," he said.)

Gray, in recent months, has been similarly unfailingly complimentary of Peebles, albeit with an eye toward fostering a one-on-one race.

Peebles confirmed that Gray had recently asked him to run and to endorse his campaign; he refused but didn't in turn ask Gray not to run, he says: "It's a free country, as I've said all along. Right now, the only candidate I'm prepared to support is me. The only candidate I'm prepared to finance is me."

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

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  • hymesb

    Don,

    I just ran out. Can I get some of that stuff you are smoking?

  • noodlez

    GRAY 1, PEEBS 2, FENTY DISTANT 3.

  • downtown rez

    I want some of what noodlez is smoking.

  • http://rickmangus@aol.com Rick Mangus

    What the District needs is a good Republican to run after the Democratic blood bath!

    Carol Schwartz, where are you?

  • Anonymous

    "Carol Schwartz, where are you?"

    Enjoying her well-deserved retirement...

  • Tom

    Wow Don Peebles most truly be ego-maniacal if he truly thinks a 3 person race doesn't mean a Fenty edge. Even in the best of scenario's where he pulls a lot of votes in Ward 2 and 3 he still wouldn't beat Gray in 7 or 8

  • noodlez

    @downtown rez UNLESS YOU WANNA CHANGE YOUR HANDLE TO UPTOWN REZ YOU BETTER STICK TO YOUR VANILLA CHAI TEA OR WHATEVA THEY SERVIN UP @ STARBUCKS THESE DAYS. ONE TOKE OF THIS SHIT AND YOU'LL BE COMMENTING LIKE DCBLACKDADDY!

    WHAT YOU NEED TO DO IS DIRECT THAT COMMENT AT MANGY! DPW MUST DIDNT SWEEP HIS STREET YET. HE OUT THERE PICKIN UP SALT PELLETS FROM SNOWPOCALYPSE AND PUTTIN IT IN HIS STEM THINKING ITS CRACKROCKS IF HE THINK DC NEEDS A REDUMBLICAN.

    ESPECIALLY THE "MAUDE" LOOK ALIKE!

  • noodlez

    ON A SERIOUS NOTE CHECK OFF EACH WARD.

    YOU WILL SEE THAT FENTY MAY PULL 2 AND/OR 3 BUT THATS ABOUT IT.

    6,7 AND 8 ARE OUT OF THE QUESTION. THAT LEAVES 1, 4 AND 5.

    HE MAY HAVE A CHANCE IN 1. 4 AND 5 WILL BE THE BATTLEFIELD.

  • http://dcdl.org KCinDC

    1978, 1990, 1994, 1998, and 2006? That's every year we had a mayoral transition. Of those, the only years when an incumbent was running were 1978 and 1994, and both times the person who defeated the incumbent was Marion Barry.

    Now maybe in 1978 Barry was "little-regarded" candidate entering "late and/or under-resourced and/or underestimated", but he sure as hell wasn't in 1994. I don't think Peebles has the political skills of Barry. In any case, he needs to come up with a better story than that.

  • F. Douglass

    Mr. Peebles, six months ago you came across as an altruistic benefactor who truly had the best intentions and interests of the District at heart when you pledged to support a legitimate mayoral candidate with your vast financial resources, and only run if no credible candidate came forward. Well Vincent C. Gray may be stepping forward, and he has clearly established his intellect, gravitas and capability as Chairman of the Council of the District of Columbia. Now you are coming across as a crass, capitalist opportunist with a Ross Perot kook streak. Regain your credibility, stick with your original game plan, support Vincent C. Gray for Mayor of the District of Columbia.

  • LifeTime

    I'm going to keep this short! What the hell is going on Fenty, Gray and now Peebles. Rick Mangus no what we need is a Mayor with some balls. Someone who not crooked or a crack head. I'm tired of the Liars and Crooks. Noodles He has no chance in Ward 4. Check them off!

  • sedcdude

    @ Ricky "MANSPUNK"

    "What the District needs is a good Republican to run after the Democratic blood bath"
    ------------
    WTF!!??

    Just like you "DON'T" need a good douchin'.....BULLSHIT!!

    Who in the hell do you think been runnin' this PLANTATION since 1800???

    You are as uninformed as you are EMOTIONAL, buddy!

  • uppity DC negro

    Fenty will clean their clocks.

    Gray is too old. Can't keep up. Fenty will out-campaign him.

    And Peebles? The dude doesn't even live here. Washingtonians would NEVER vote for a guy that has spent the last 10 years laying on a beach in Florida.

    Fenty all the way.

  • hymesb

    Upity dc negro,

    Let's not forget that Fenty has also done a very solid job. Other than personal a couple missteps, there is no real reason for the city to change direction.

    This is race going to desolve into a personal attack fest. Gray will quickly show himself to be negative and aggresive. Peebles just doesn't have any...ANY experience. Fenty will be the only one with a solid platform.

  • Forthepeople

    Fenty will have a run for his money against Gray.

    Once Fenty has lost, he can go back to beating his wife black and blue.

  • noodlez

    hymesb-YOUR COMMENT 14 IS NOTHING MORE THAN A PIPEDREAM 2.0. WHICH IS UNATTAINABLE HOPE COUPLED WITH A HIT OF THAT SHIT THAT MADE RAYFUL EDMONDS FAMOUS.

    hymesb A VERY SOLID JOB, A COUPLE OF MISSTEPS AND NO REAL REASON TO CHANGE!

    CHAMP. LET ME TRANSLATE THE AFOREMENTIONED LIKE THE BLACK COP IN SANFORD AND SON SO THAT YOU'LL UNDERSTAND WHAT THE REAL FOLK OF THIS CITY IS SAYIN ABOUT YA BOY. THEN MAYBE YOU CAN UNDERSTAND WHAT THE FUCK IS GOIN-ON ON THE STREETS OF THIS BEAUTIFUL CITY O'MINE.

    "THAT PUNK ASS MUTHA FUKKA FENTY AINT DONE SHIT FOR US(A SOLID JOB), GIVIN ALL THE MONEY TO HIS BITCH ASS FRAT BROTHERS, SO HE CAN GET ANOTHER BYCYCLE THAT COST MORE THAN WHAT I MAKE IN A YEAR(PERSONAL MISSTEPS), AND IF HE THINKS THAT IM'A FALL FOR THAT "IM GOING TO HELP YOU PEOPLE NEXT TIME" SHIT, HE IS IN FOR A RUDE AWAKENING(NO REAL REASON TO CHANGE)."

    hymesb YOU SMELL THAT? I THINK YA BOY JUST SHITTED ON HIMSELF.

  • DCVoter

    @Uppity DC Negro--yes Fenty was a great campaigner last time around, but are we sure he's going to do that again this time? He tends to treat constituents with such disdain, doesn't it seem like going door-to-door again is a bit beneath him (I don't agree, but I suspect that's his thinking).

    Sure, other than Peeble's his going to out-fundraise everyone, but can he really out-campaign them like he did in 2006?

  • http://rickmangus@aol.com Rick Mangus

    I hear comments that Peeble's doesn't even live here, I don't care if he lives on Mars!, because the elected officals we have now are from, your anis, OOPS! I ment to say, Uranus!

  • hymesb

    Noodlez,

    First, man i love your posts even when i don't agree.

    But, I think that is councilman Grady's adult diapers you smell. Councilman Grady announced about two months earlier than he wanted to because he was getting fundraised into oblivion. Talk to me when he raises two million dollars. Money talks and old politicians don't walk. DC's hills can be a bitch!

    DCvoter, Fenty has been campaigning for 5-6 months already. That is how he got 4 million dollars. And, yes, according to reports,he has been knocking on doors since October. Even houses at the top of hills with 25 steps to the door.

    Grady would need a ambulance to follow behind him if he thought about campaigning like Fenty.

  • Truth Hurts

    Peebs gotta lotta skeletons in his closet. He knows there are folks waitin to talk about his creepin ways with Barry back in the day. He's posing and eventually will throw his dough to Vince.

...