City Desk

Is Fenty vs. Gray Like Clinton vs. Dole?


The battle royale that every D.C. political wag had been hoping for is on: Adrian M. Fenty vs. Vincent Gray. It's fairly obvious how challenger Gray is going to cast his candidacy: Youth vs. experience. Alienation vs. collaboration. Arrogance vs. avuncularity.

So how's this thing going to play out for Hizzoner? LL has been searching for historical parallels Fenty might want to consult.

How about the 1996 presidential race?

Remember, Bob Dole vs. Bill Clinton?

Clinton, of course, was only two years removed from an epic political setback, when Republicans overtook both houses of Congress for the first time in decades. The race attracted a motley crew of Republican wannabes, with longtime Kansas senator Dole, 73, winning the nomination.

The campaign ended up being very much about Dole's age and whether or not he was an "out of touch" Beltway insider after 26 years in the Senate, that whether, as a career legislator, he had the leadership chops to lead the country. The Clinton narrative became that a vote for Dole was a vote for failed policies of the past. Clinton, on the other hand could tout bipartisan votes on crime and welfare reform.

Clinton strolled into the Democratic National Convention in Chicago (where LL, incidentally, was on the floor as a fresh-faced delegation page), gave his speech about "building a bridge to the 21st Century," and never looked back. He won the popular vote by 8.5 points.

So the task for Fenty is clear: Make the case that a vote for Gray is a vote for returning to the past. Make the case that Gray's legislative obsession with process will obscure progress. Make the case that the change people voted for in 2006, when voters overwhelmingly preferred him to Linda Cropp, is not finished. And make the case that he's still the best candidate to lead the city into the future.

Here's why the analogy might not hold: Fenty, 39, for all his youth and vigor, is not blessed with the communicative gifts of a Bill Clinton. Fenty shakes plenty of hands, but he doesn't leave the folks receiving them in the rapture that Clinton was known for. (And he's not much of an orator to boot.) Gray, though up in years at 67, is a sight more sprightly than Dole was. And while Fenty has a strong record to run on, he will have a hard time claiming that he's brought people together to move the city forward.

Gray, on the other hand, will try to make the case that he can unite disparate parts of the city around a message of hope and progress, kind of like a more recent presidential candidate.

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  • D

    ha! yes, this is going to be a sad match-up to say the least. It boggles the mind why Gray is so uncomfortable with gray hair. If I was running his campaign I'd force him to make a joke about how ugly he is because it's on everyone's mind. You know, "Ugly Face, Beautiful Ideas."

  • noodlez




  • Manor

    Gray's announcement was certainly Dole-esque, awkward, elderly, crony-istic, and ended in a luxury car.

  • Indeed

    Debonis, are you really comparing Adrian Fenty to Bill Clinton? That's a joke, right? Adrian Fenty is more like former Vice Presidential candidate James Bond Stockdale III: clueless.

  • Sally

    Vince "E.D." Gray.

  • No Relation to Angry Al

    Another vote for Reagan v. Carter. Hardly a perfect parallel, but Fenty's got that Carter arrogance. Shit, Gray's got the Reagan age, if not the charisma or vision. Maybe Carter vs. Dole. But Gray isn't funny like Dole. Carter v. Hubert Humphrey?

    Helluva choice.

  • Anonymous

    Someone is playing a poor, sad joke on Vince Gray by convincing him he has even an iota of a chance.
    Gray is not an "insider" with 26 years of experience, he is a neophyte with what is apparently a big ego.

    How about Bush vs. Dukasis?

  • TheTruth

    How about FDR vs. Elmer Fudd

  • elcidmbadc

    YES! Did anyone else cue in on Gray's ridiculously out-of-touch, old fogey, SEXIST comment about Michelle Rhee? He's going to ask her about her impending marriage? Would any MAN be asked such a thing?!!??? Gimme a break! As much as we need a change in DC, that is not a change for the better! We don't need to go from a bull-headed mayor to bone-headed one!

  • Indeed

    Anonymous, I'd say that being the head of a city department, running a major non-profit, being the council rep from Ward 7 and City Council chair isn't exactly the resume of a neophyte. What was it that Fenty did before he ran for office? Oh, that's right, he stole money from old people!

  • Nice try,

    Yes he is more spirited that Dole. He hasn't suffered a stroke and has use of both arms. But, let's see him run up a few dozen flights of stairs.

    And, Gray isn't ugly. He just looks sick. There is a big difference. Gray has had plenty lady's loving that wavey Jet Black hair. Why do you think he didn't run for office until we was 60.

    Even now, He'd get plenty of use out of that viagra at the gray panthers meetings. He had the dentures and hair dye going on. After all, 70 is the new 60.

    Jokes aside, Call it what it really is.

    Fenty vs. Barry.

    Cuz Gray ain't running crap. He was a flunky for over half his life. Barry could ruin his run by himself by pulling support. And, we all know, censuring Barry was the hardest thing he had to do. I bet it was...especially when Barry threatened him right on the dais.

  • Nice try


    He was a horrrible agency head under a horrible Mayor. That is the last thing you should bring up to sight his credentials.

    And, what does running a non-profit have to do with being Mayor? Shit, Michael Lomax runs the United Negro College fund and I wouldn't let that man anywhere near my wallet. He was tossed out as college presidentcy because he turned it into a money funnel for Atlanta businesman. God knows where their donations go.

    Anyway, they are often political money funnels. We see that Barry "his good friend of 30 years" has created, funded, and cashed checks from his variuos non-profits.

  • Indeed

    Again, I would like to know what Adrian Fenty did before he ran for public office. Please, tell me. And please give me all the evidence for your assertions that Gray was a horrible agency head and that running a non-profit has nothing to do with being Mayor. Last time I checked, when you're running a bureaucracy, it's nice to have management experience. We see what has happened under Fenty who has none. He throws major work to his friends, tries to take credit for things that he didn't do, and doesn't know how to collaboratively move this city forward.

    This city is just about as divided as it has ever been, and that division has been stoked by many people, but particularly, the mayor.

  • Truth Hurts

    Too bad I'm late to this one. Anyway, Nice Try said all that needs to be said about one city.