Small Local Biz for Gray, Suburban Heavy Hitters for Fenty?
As our dearly departed DeBonis reports, the Greater Washington Board of Trade has endorsed Mayor Adrian Fenty over Council Chairman Vince Gray, with the reasoning: Things have been ok from our perspective, so why change horses mid-stream?
"It simply comes down to the fact that we recognize the progress that's being made over the past four years, and we want to maintain that progress," BOT president Jim Dinegar said.
Hours later, though, the D.C. Chamber of Commerce disagreed: After interviewing the candidates yesterday and making a decision by secret ballot at 1:00 p.m. today, their PAC endorsed Gray, giving only the vaguest of reasons.
“The DC Chamber is committed to supporting the Washington business community and creating an environment that supports entrepreneurship, “ said PAC chairman Gilbert DeLorme, a real estate lawyer. “We’ve endorsed Chairman Gray clearly because the PAC felt that he possessed leadership abilities critical to propel the District toward its fullest potential.”
The Board of Trade, of course, represents 800 mid to large-sized businesses based all over the greater Washington area, and their board is a who's who of banking and lawyering powerhouses. They focus almost entirely on regional issues of transportation, energy, and education.
The D.C. Chamber of Commerce, by contrast, represents 1,700 businesses in the District, many of which fall on the smaller end of the spectrum; the larger board includes quite a few local business and educational institutions. They focus more on the regulatory environment of the city itself–CEO Barbara Lang is a regular at Council hearings, for example, while Dinegar wouldn't be a familiar face at the Wilson Building. These are the businesses that the imposition of smaller fees and taxes, which the Council forced the Mayor to implement by executive order, could really affect.