Yvette Alexander and Vince Gray make nice at the unity breakfast
Yvette Alexander and Vince Gray make nice at the unity breakfast Credit: Will Sommer

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A week after her landslide defeat in the Democratic primary, Ward 7 Councilmember Yvette Alexander has done everything expected of a gracious loser.

She’s already met with Vince Gray, the former mayor whose Council run turned her into a lame duck. After calling Gray a crook for the entire campaign, Alexander abruptly changed her mind at today’s Democratic Party unity breakfast and claimed she thought that Gray would make a good councilmember after all.

For at-large councilmember and local Democratic party boss Anita Bonds, though, there was still one thing left for Alexander to do.

“Anita says I have to give Vince a hug,” Alexander said, before embracing her mentor-turned-foe.

The era of Democratic amnesia unity is upon us. The three victorious Council challengers made nice at today’s traditional unity breakfast at the 5th Street NW Busboys and Poets with the incumbents they just spent months tearing down, joined by a coterie of Democratic stalwarts, political operatives, and Mayor Muriel Bowser, whose Council candidates were thumped in last week’s results.

It’s not entirely clear why District Democrats need to be unified. Barring a political catastrophe, all five Democratic candidates will win seats on the Council. Locally, Democrats are so powerful that they’re banned from filling the only other seat on the November ballot.

In the presidential race, the District votes so solidly Democratic that its Electoral College delegates might as well already be en route to vote for Hillary Clinton. (The real explanation for the breakfast, Gray tells LL, is that it’s more about repairing bruised feelings than it is about ensuring ballot box victory). 

Bowser did what was expected of her, too. At the mic, the mayor ran down the list of her defeated candidates—Alexander, Ward 8’s LaRuby May, and At-Large Councilmember Vincent Orang. Then she dutifully cheered on the winners—Gray, Ward 8 nominee Trayon White, and At-Large nominee Robert White, plus the Bowser-allied incumbents in Ward 2 and Ward 4, Jack Evans and Brandon Todd)

“I also want to congratulate the former Ward 7 councilmember and the next Ward 7 councilmember, Vincent Gray!” Bowser said.

Mayoral speeches at the unity breakfast don’t always go so smoothly. Facing electoral defeat in 2014, Gray conspicuously avoided mentioning Bowser in his own unity speech, then avoided even talking to her until reporters forced his hand.

But even today’s more believable good feelings have an expiration date—whenever the 2018 mayoral campaign starts. Gray has refused to promise to hold his Ward 7 seat for the full four years, which sets him up for a potential mayoral rematch against Bowser.

As for the current mayor, she says she’s running for re-election—just not who she’ll be running against.

“I have no idea who’s going to run for mayor,” Bowser says.