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Never mind. For a moment this week, it looked like the deep political freeze between Mayor Muriel Bowser and Ward 7 Councilmember Vince Gray was thawing just a bit.
In a surprise, the mayor’s office announced that Gray would be joining Bowser Tuesday afternoon on a Ward 7 community walk in the Hillbrook neighborhood of Minnesota Avenue NE. But it turns out that while Bowser’s office had invited Gray, the former mayor (Bowser defeated Gray in 2014) had never responded and never intended to go, and furthermore didn’t know about the invitation. Bowser’s office says that the announcement “is on us. He never accepted,” and that they listed Gray in error.
The joint appearance announcement was a surprise because Gray still seethes over his 2014 loss to Bowser, which happened amid a U.S. Attorney investigation of Gray’s 2010 election as mayor. That probe ended with no charges against Gray, but Bowser rode the scandal to her election victory.
Gray, 75, decided against seeking a rematch with Bowser this year, and the mayor is heading toward easy reelection on Nov. 6. Some political observers say Bowser’s invitation to Gray was an effort to ease their relationship. Bowser is pursuing a new hospital east of the Anacostia River—a goal that Gray has had for years. He is currently chairman of the Council’s Committee on Health.
Bowser could also use Gray’s support in getting the Washington area’s NFL team to build a new stadium at the team’s expense on the site of the old RFK stadium, which is also in Ward 7. Gray was among several speakers at a recent Bowser event breaking ground on three new athletic fields on land that has been paved parking lots for RFK. But none of the Wilson Building watchers City Paper spoke with could recall Bowser and Gray doing their own joint appearance.
Gray tells City Paper that he never even knew that Bowser’s office extended him an invitation on the walk. He says he had a prior commitment anyway. Gray also says that he’ll work with the mayor on any positive issues for Ward 7 regardless of what he still feels about his 2014 loss.