City Desk

A Soggy But Spirited Tommy Wells Enters D.C. Mayoral Fray

Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells announced his campaign for mayor today, promising a crowd of drenched but cheering supporters that he would create a "livable, walkable city" and help end the "crisis of ethics in the Wilson Building."

"I apologize for the metaphor, but today we stand at a crossroads," Wells said from a podium set up at Starburst Plaza at the intersection of H Street NE, Benning Road, Maryland Avenue, 15th Street, Florida Avenue, and Bladensburg Road—and near the convergence of Ward 6, where Wells enjoys strong support, and wards 5 and 7, where he'll have his work cut out for him winning over mostly poorer and African-American voters.

Wells, who has not always been popular among his colleagues, was visibly enjoying himself as a funky song written for the occasion by John "Peter Bug" Matthews ("Tommy Wells is the man / Tommy Wells got a plan...") welcomed him to the event, and as a dense scrum of reporters crowded around him after his speech. A diverse audience of about a hundred turned out, despite the pouring rain that let up slightly as Wells took the podium.

Wells told me before the event that he was initially thinking about running for mayor not in this election cycle but in 2018, until corruption issues in the government—between the recent arrests of two of his former D.C. Council colleagues and the alleged shadow campaign that helped elect Mayor Vince Gray—persuaded him that now was the right time. "We've seen the greatest ethical crisis in our city since home rule," he told the crowd.

Wells greets supporters upon disembarking the X8 bus in the pouring rain.

Wells pledged not to take any corporate campaign contributions or bundled contributions from lobbyists. He laid out three initiatives he hopes to undertake as mayor: cutting juvenile crime in half within 24 months, making sure every child has a good elementary school within walking distance that he or she can attend without entering a lottery, and bringing about the "next generation of a great transit system."

"We're gonna run the streetcar east before it goes west," he pledged in an appeal to residents of the city's eastern neighborhoods whose votes he'll have to work to attract.

Wells kicked off the morning with some pre-campaigning in his home ward, before walking from Eastern Market to the X8 bus line and riding it to Starburst Plaza. The move was symbolic, given Wells' advocacy of public transit, but there were few people around to appreciate the symbolism: When Wells and his campaign volunteers boarded the bus, there was only one other passenger on it. And during the short bus ride, the downpour began.

Wells becomes the second candidate to announce for the Democratic primary next year, following Ward 4 Councilmember Muriel Bowser, who jumped into the race in March. Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans has indicated he'll run in the primary, and at-large Councilmember David Catania may enter the general election as an independent. Gray has so far been tight-lipped about whether he'll seek re-election.

On board the X8.

Photos by Aaron Wiener

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  • IAmNotALiberalDemocrat

    Tommy Wells is too liberal for me and this is why I can't vote for him. I'm a life long Democrat, however, being a Democrat doesn't mean you are liberal or far to the left. Jack Evans and Muriel Bowser will never get a vote from me because I just don't like as human beings.

    Ward 4 Voter
    Crestwood Neighborhood

  • IAmNotALiberalDemocrat

    Correction:

    I just don't like them as human beings. LOL

    Tommy Wells seems like a decent guy. He's too liberal and green for me.

  • http://distcurm.blogspot.com/ IMGoph

    When discussing voters in ward 5, it's instructive to look at the relative wealth of different neighborhoods/voting precincts and the voter turnout.

    You say "[in] wards 5 and 7...he'll have his work cut out for him winning over mostly poorer and African-American voters."

    Definitely mostly African-American wards, but in ward 5, are the voters mostly poorer? I'd wager that's not the case.

    The poorer precincts of the ward (in areas like Carver Langston, Brentwood, and Trinidad) don't have the kind of turnout that the more affluent (Bloomingdale, North Michigan Park) precincts do. I'll bet you'll find that, if you analyze voter turnout rates and income, you'll find those who actually vote in ward 5 are not those with the below-average incomes.

  • FormerBrownSupporter

    Not all of ward 5 and 7 are poor. Shows how little some people know. Also Wells will LOSE! BOWSER TOO! LOSERS!!

  • noodlez

    DC MAYORAL RACE RESULTS 2014:
    1. GRAY
    2. BOWSER
    3. EVANS
    4. SILLYMON BROWN
    5. MARION BARRY
    6. SEDCDUDE
    7. DOWNTOWN RESIDENT
    8. RICK MANGUS
    9. ADRIAN BENT-ME
    10.TOMMY WELLS

    ONE CITY!

  • Really?

    Baahhahaah! "Tommy Wells is the man" oh Tommy "nobody puts baby in the corner" considering how racially divided this city is I would have nixed that line.

    As for the Ward 5 and 7 goes to show, once again, that many in the media don't understand the population of DC, especially the newcomers. To them Black = Poor.

  • kob

    The use of the word "walkable" in a banner at an event announcing a mayoral run seems odd. Am I supposed to rally around that?

    But, like so many others, I welcome the War of Cars.

  • noodlez

    THIS SORRY ASS WHINER WILL HAVE HIS ASS HANDED TO HIM IN 2014. HE IS BANKING ON 2018 TO CHERRY PICK HIS WAY TO THE OFFICE.

    HE NEED TO ANSWER SOME QUESTIONS ABOUT THE MONEY THAT SHOULD HAVE WENT TO OLD SCHOOL BUSINESSES, THAT HELD DOWN H ST NE FOR DECADES, THAT WAS TO SUPPOSED TO OFF SET THEIR INCOME BECAUSE OF CONSTRUCTION FROM THE STREET CAR TO NO WHERE. HOWEVER HE LINED THE POCKETS OF THAT BAMMA WHO RUNS THAT ATLAS SHIT TO TAKE SOME CREDIT FOR REVITALIZING H ST NE WHEN IN FACT IT IS JUST POCKET FOR FAKE ASS HIPSTERS TO FLOCK TO FOR SOME WATERED DOWN PBR!

    SOMEONE SHOULD CALL FOR AN AUDIT TO SEE WHERE THE MONEY WENT AND TO WHOM???

  • tony

    @Really?,

    Good point. I believe that they do know. They like to play games with the black community. You know that DIVIDE AND CONQUER GAME. Well, just like we did to their Boy Patrick Mara we will do to Tommy Wells.

    Bring it on!

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  • Really?

    @noodlez they have...last I heard it went into a black hole. Rules for ya'll and rules for us!

  • Jimbo

    The barfly believes his own press releases.

  • SEis4ME

    St. Wells has just set himself up for a loss. The best scenario for him is that Bowser takes just enough of Gray's vote that Wells receives votes by default. Since I don't know who represents Bowser's base, I can't imagine that happening. What she could also do is siphon off voters who might would vote for the Saint but uncomfortable w/his politrics.

    But, if the myopic-twit brigade turns this into another "us" vs "them" of the Gray/Fenty race then the city will rightly reject it and give the race to Gray...handedly.

  • Judith Claire

    If you have a real comment, why don't you have a real name?

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