Campaign Notebook: August 20, 2010

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courtesy of ‘erin m’
We’re nearing the home stretch here, with only 25 days to go until the primary. Expect to see campaigns across the city heat up in the final weeks, as candidates make their final pleas for votes, and take their final swipes at their opponents. The mayoral race is at once coming into focus and becoming ever more unpredictable. There’s only three more of these round-ups left to come, so let’s get to it.

The Big Race

The Clarus poll. Finally, us pundits and bloggers have some numbers to work with. As we reported earlier this week, the numbers tell us just what we expected–it’s a tight race. The narrative now, of course, is that Gray has pulled into the lead and that Fenty must catch-up. That’s never a good story for an incumbent. Other storylines are evolving as well, with the Examiner’s Freeman Klopott declaring, “Mayor Adrian Fenty is the white candidate and D.C. Council Chairman Vince Gray is the black candidate.”  There are a hundred ways to break down this race, from black versus white to rich versus poor to old guard versus new. This is a very unique election, where a mostly successful incument is on the verge of defeat. Required reading for junkies this week is of course Alan Suderman’s Fenty profile in the City Paper, which delves into the “personality gap.” Some are turned off by Fenty’s personality, and therefore pushed to Gray, who seems to have little personality. It’s fascinating and difficult to predict. We have debate after debate, forum after forum, and still no clear leader. These round-ups have been saying the election is trending Gray, so it’s no surprise he has pulled ahead, but this could go either way.

So, where are we? Fenty is hitting back with some new television ads, probably his best to date. We’re also seeing more mailings to the areas where this election will be the closest. This is where Fenty’s campaign chest can completely overwhelm Gray. Fenty will have an advantage with the last minute push, both on the ground, through the mail, and on the airwaves. Fenty’s “results” message is compelling, and with a large number of voters undecided, a last minute barrage could tip the scales towards re-election.

This isn’t to say Gray isn’t in a position to win. He’s been building support at an amazing rate, but has got to keep the momentum going in these final weeks. Gray needs to build on what he has, though, and build more on how his approach to governing would both be more ‘friendly’ but also yield more results. For that more than 20% undecided still out there, Gray has to sell his policy ideas as well as his personality. Perhaps he should think about airing this City Paper parody ad.

Council Chair

Not a lot of change here, the Clarus poll shows Kwame Brown heading into the last few weeks with a decent lead. There’s still a large number of undecideds, though, 29%. How will these undecideds break? Well, right now the Clarus numbers show the most undecides are in Wards 2 and 3, averaging 35%. Contrast that to only 24% in Wards 6, 7 and 8. Watch this race to be determined in NW, where voters may not be as familiar with either candidate. This race is getting interesting, even though most everyone in the establishment continues to think Brown has it in the bag. This poll was conducted after the Washington Post endorsed Orange. Clarus notes that Kwame Brown holds a strong lead among African-Americans, while the two candidates are in a tie among whites. I’d expect we’ll see a lot of visibility up in Wards 2 and 3 in the next few weeks.

Ward One

Jeff Smith picked up another endorsement this week, this time the Washington Building Trades Council. This is a group of trade unions including bricklayers, electrical workers, iron workers, boilermakers, plumbers, plasterers and painters. Interesting to note that Smith has picked up the endorsement of both the Trades Council and the Chamber of Commerce, which ostensibly are both interested in furthering development and construction in Ward 1. I don’t have any figures in front of me but I find it unlikely many members of the Trades Council reside in Ward 1.

Jeff Smith and fellow challenger Bryan Weaver have managed to pick up a half-dozen or so endorsements amongst the the both of them, but incumbent Jim Graham is still far ahead both in endorsements (SEIU, AFSCME, UNITE HERE Local 25, Sierra Club, Allied Transit Union Local 689, Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, The Intowner Newspaper, Victory Fund and TENAC) and fundraising. Barring any significant events in the next few weeks, it’s looking difficult for either Weaver or Smith to unseat Jim Graham. Of course, all of that can change in a heartbeat. A minor programming note, after the wrap-up of the primary, I will be spending some time talking about the GOP candidates for Council seats, so stay tuned.

Ward Five

Kenyan McDuffie late with his campaign finance report, from a statement:

As you all know, the Campaign Finance Report was due last Tuesday, August 10, 2010—the only one not turned in was ours. Kenyan McDuffie went to file his finance report on Tuesday; however, he requested and was granted an extension due to the K5 campaign treasurer’s unexpected illness. Kenyan ForWard 5’s Future will file the report by close of business next Friday, Aug. 20, 2010. We understand that remaining consistent and transparent is necessary to not only gain your vote on September 14, but to maintain your trust in the local government.   Integrity and competent leadership stands as a base for the K5 Campaign, and we apologize that if this unforeseen circumstance has raised any red flags.  Your continued support is greatly appreciated.

As of this morning, McDuffie’s report was not available online.

Dave has been following DC news and politics for nearly eight years and previous authored the blog “Why I Hate DC.” Dave tries to give a voice to those frustrated by the “politics as usual” in the area. By day he works in the technology department of a non-profit, by night he writes about news and politics and works at a local hardware store. Dave is also a contributor for Greater Greater Washington. You can follow him on Twitter or read his personal blog.

3 thoughts on “Campaign Notebook: August 20, 2010

  1. Dave, I take exception with your touting of Graham’s endorsements:

    Sierra Club, The Intowner Newspaper and Victory Club didn’t extend invitations to the other candidates to even find out their positions on issues – is that really an endorsement based on the issues?

    SEIU, AFSCME, UNITE HERE Local 25, Allied Transit Union Local 689 ALL fall under the oversight of Graham’s Committee. If your boss asked for your endorsement, would you say no? I doubt it!

    The TENAC endorsement was made based on hearing from two candidates only. Just before Jeff Smith was slated to speak, a fire alarm was pulled and organizers stated they would recess until the end of the month. They’ve clearly changed their mind and didn’t inform the community.

  2. I’m certainly not touting them, I’m just listing them. The Graham campaign might tout them, I just wanted to put them in there as to not be accused of only showing the challenger’s endorsements.

  3. Jim Graham has been a champion for tenants and rent control. No one doubts or questions that.And the pulled-fire-alarm conspiracy theory is laughable. Jeff Smith’s supporters are always whining and crying foul, except when it comes to his record, like quitting the school board mid-term and claiming to be a lawyer but he’s not.

    And I’m still trying to figure out what Bryan Weaver actually does. He never talks about having a job or a career or accomplishing anything. All he does is complain. He should be a Jeff Smith supporter.