Loose Lips Daily: Gray Wins, But You Already Knew That Edition
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:
Adrian Fenty Kinda, Sorta Tries To Concede Gray: “Only If We All Work Together Can We Move This City Forward” Bustin’ Loose at Vince Gray’s Party Tension Lifting at Mendelson Partyrama USA Today Jumps the Gun Scene: Ward 8, Election Night No Late Night Voting for D.C. Fenty’s Rush Hour Game Face Gray: Keep Polls Open Five Things that Make Voters Mad Vince Gray: McDonald’s is Good, Turnout Is Good Bryan Weaver’s Quest for Votes Watch a Working D.C. Voting Machine Primary Election Day in Photos Morning Ride in the Mendomobile Have You Seen Adrian Fenty? Still No Obama Help for Fenty Democracy Threatened By Missing Seal! Bryan Weaver Seeing Light Turnout Across Ward One Fenty Finds Undecided Voter, And Lots Of Children In Ward 4, Light Turnout Early Tuesday White Mike: Voters Aren’t Stupid Fenty on Voting Problems: “I Don’t Know Anything About It” Gray: “How Many Voters Have We Lost?” Finally, Fenty Votes for Himself Gray Has Problems Voting “Don’t Be Fooled!” Live Blogging Adrian Fenty On Morning Joe! Mayor Fenty Begins Day With A Pep Rally
Phew! A lot has happened in the past 24 hours! Good morning, D.C.
Around midnight, when an Adrian Fenty supporter fell through a plate-glass window at the mayor’s re-election headquarters in Ward 4, it seemed like a good time to get to bed. Fortunately, the volunteer wasn’t too seriously hurt. It was a sideshow to what was inevitable: Although the votes were not all in, it was clear that D.C. Council Chairman Vincent Gray was on his way to unseat the District’s hard-charging mayor. Gray bested Fenty 53 percent to 45 percent to secure the Democratic nomination, not the run-away victory some had predicted but still a very strong performance by the man who defeated the triathlete who just four years ago swept every precinct in the city. Unless something strange happens between now and the November general election, Gray will be the District’s next mayor.
But that’s not all, of course. The quick results: D.C. At-Large Councilmember Kwame Brown triumphed over former Ward 5 Councilmember Vincent Orange in D.C. Council chairman’s race; Phil Mendelson comfortably beat Michael D. Brown and Clark Ray on the road to retain his At-Large seat on the council; Ward 1 Councilmember Jim Graham was victorious over two opponents Bryan Weaver and Jeff Smith; Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh, who faced no Democratic opposition in her seat, will go on to the November general election; Councilmember Harry Thomas, Jr., in a crowded Ward 5 race, soared; in Ward 6, Councilmember Tommy Wells beat Kelvin Robinson; D.C. Congressional Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton cruised over her opponent, Doug Sloan, to secure the party nomination; and Mike Panetta, D.C.’s shadow U.S. House representative, also won, beating Nate Bennett-Fleming.
These victories had been more or less anticipated. (Complete results, including those for the Republican and Statehood Green parties, are available here.)
Here's what's making news in the local political sphere. Let’s get to it.
A Concession From the Green Team: As Jason Cherkis reports, it was Fenty campaign spokesman Sean Madigan that called the Gray campaign to concede the race. The mayor will apparently call Gray personally this morning to concede.
What Went Wrong? While there have been plenty of pre-primary post-mortems of Fenty’s campaign, The Washington Post’s Nikita Stewart and Paul Schwartzman boil it down to this:
How Fenty came to squander that success and the goodwill that catapulted him to office is the story of a mayor who misread an electorate he was sure he knew better than anyone, who ignored advisers' early warnings that key constituencies were abandoning him, who shut out confidantes who told him what he did not want to hear and who began to listen only when the race was all but lost.
Hubris has done in many a politician, and it sunk Fenty. Had he only known at the time…
What About Michelle Rhee? Playing the role of Mr. Feeny from Boy Meets World, The Washington Post’s Robert McCartney urges Gray to keep Michelle Rhee as public schools chancellor, telling him to live up to his “One City” campaign slogan:
But keeping her would be the right thing to do for the city, its students, education reform, and Gray and Rhee themselves. Here's why:
First, Gray campaigned on a promise to build "One City." The theme was designed partly to signal to African American voters that Gray would take blacks' interests and views into account. Incumbent Adrian Fenty was seen as having come up short that way.
It worked for Gray, and he won the primary largely because of what polls and campaign analysts said was an overwhelming margin among black voters.
But if he's going to pull the city together, then Gray needs to reach out quickly to the Rhee supporters, most of whom are white, who opposed him. The fastest way to do that is to make clear he's open to leaving her as chancellor.
Which, of course, he’s carefully articulated and positioned over months of campaigning. Gray hasn’t definitively said he would fire the divisive schools chief, but said that would be a conversation he would have to have with Rhee if elected mayor. (Many have read Gray’s statements as an indication that he would give her the boot, and Rhee has made it clear she would not be enthused continuing on in the office unless a man named Adrian was elected.) Last night, in an interview with CNN’s John King, Gray reiterated his Rhee talking points:
“Well, we—we'll decide that. I think that's a conversation that she and I, you know, need to have in terms of what's important to her with respect to what she's looking for in a mayor and the things that I think are important to me as a mayor.
C’mon, John, do you really think you were going to get Gray to say something new and different on election night?
Voting Problems: As was well documented on Tuesday, there were some problems at the polls. Two precincts opened late. About 15 to 20 of the city’s 143 precincts were affected by broken electronic voting machines. When Gray showed up to the polls, his machine was having problems and he registered his concern early in the day calling the problems the product of “abject incompetence.” Suderman reported Gray saying: "How do you not check everything the day before? … How many voters have we lost as a result of this incompetence?" (Fenty, as Cherkis reported, didn’t seem to have a clue about the problems popping up in different parts of the city: “I don’t know anything about it.”)
So what were the problems? As Rend Smith reports, there was some human error with some red seals on the machines:
According to instructions, this particular BOEE seal was to cover a voting machine printer port. But the seal hadn’t been put on the machines because, late in the game, the BOEE decided it was unnecessary. They neglected to change the instructions that come with the voting machines, however. So finding the seal absent, workers were supposed to call the BOEE. That’s where the human error part came in. Some workers didn’t—they simply stopped setting up.
Per the Examiner’s Freeman Klopott, here’s what elections chief Rokey Suleman had to say: “This is typical of what happens when jurisdictions implement new equipment. People can come back if they were turned away, it doesn’t affect the final count.”
In the end, the Gray camp wanted polls to stay open longer. But in an emergency court hearing, a judge shot that down and the polls closed at 8 p.m., right on schedule. Highlight of the courtroom drama: A Gray lawyer read from the Federalist Papers! American democracy in action!
Party Scenes: If you didn’t make it to Gray’s victory party at the Washington Court Hotel, here are highlights: There were pan flutists, go-go music, Medea Benjamin dancing, photo-ops with Marion Barry and a cast of characters not seen since the mid 1990s. Oh yes, Gray gave a victory speech. Per Mike Madden:
Let me say this to those who say you can’t have both collaboration and reform, that they are mutually exclusive,” he said. “I say, ‘You are wrong!’ … Make no mistake, school reform will move forward in a Gray administration.
We’ll hold you to that, Vince.
Cherkis, meanwhile, paints a sort-of sorry scene at Fenty’s re-election headquarters. Yes, there was that guy fell through the window, as previously noted. Also, Ron Moten got some sleep in a car and complained about a gift-cards-for-votes scheme by the Gray camp. The mayor left early and that was probably for the best. (Earlier in the day, per TBD, Fenty declared: “We certainly are going to win. And we’ll be back running the city as normal.” The mayor will have more time to go running soon enough.)
Meanwhile, at the Mendelson victory party at U-Topia, things were decidedly more low-key, per Lydia DePillis. In what became the strangest race of season, the At-Large councilmember staved off a potentially embarrassing upset by Shadow Sen. Michael D. Brown, who shares a first and last name with At-Large Councilmember Michael A. Brown. But as the votes came in, it was clear Mendo would win. There were fist bumps, hugs and starchy buffet items! Earlier in the day, DePillis rode around in Mendo’s 1998 Mercury Mystique. While driving on Porter Street NW, Mendo made a smart observation about the new Chinese Embassy residences. “I can’t believe that they would tear down mediocre buildings and put up ones that are ugly.” So true!
A Clintonian Comeback for Fenty? Over at NBCWashington.com, P.J. Orvetti says that while Fenty has been ousted from power, he’s still youthful, energetic and could make a return to local politics someday. All he needs to do is take a lesson or two from a man from Arkansas:
Bill Clinton was the Comeback Kid. Adrian Fenty could be the Comeback Jerk. If he wants to, that is.
Sounds like a catchy future campaign slogan! Sort of!
Healing Electoral Wounds: Since campaigns often dwell on divisions, let’s end on something sort of uplifting. On Tuesday, DCist published a Q&A with Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton. When asked about the racial divisiveness that has marked the mayoral campaign, Norton said she doesn’t encounter such divisions in her capacity representing the entire District at the U.S. Capitol:
To represent a progressive city, which does not know policy differences on major issues—there's no difference on environmental issues or transportation issues, there is not once can I think of a vote I've taken in committee or on the House floor where I have to say, well, "one side of the city...". Recognizing that they are in very different circumstances, I don't get any different votes from Ward 3 than I do from Ward 8. The reason for that is really the fact that when it comes to policy, there are not essential differences. You really have to understand how weird that is.
To have a city that comes together on policy the way that we do, split? Along racial lines? It is unnecessary and an outrage. And it must be cured immediately. It must be. It's a breach that is a false and artificial breach, but it can be brought back together.
Let’s hope so.
Have a good day and we’ll be back with more.