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LL spent Monday night on a time-machine trip back to the 2014 mayoral race—-or at least it seemed that way. At a Ward 5 civic association meeting, ex-Mayor Vince Gray trotted out the old campaign speech that touts the accomplishments of his one-term administration, including improved city finances and expanded preschool access.
Pacing up and down the aisle at Union Wesley AME Zion, Gray came off like a comedian dusting the cobwebs off his old material. Now that the federal investigation into his 2010 campaign is over, Gray says he’ll make a decision about running for a D.C. Council seat in the coming weeks.
Now Gray has another reason to run: A poll taken last week and funded by a political action committee founded by Gray supporters shows him leading hypothetical races for both Ward 7 and the Democratic at-large seat.
In the race for the Ward 7 seat Gray once held, the poll by Public Policy Polling finds the likely Democratic voters surveyed choosing Gray over incumbent (and one-time protege) Yvette Alexander, 48 percent to 32 percent. Third candidate Ed Potillo polls at 6 percent, while 14 percent of respondents were unsure who they would vote for. The poll of 407 Ward 7 residents has a +/-4.4 percent margin of error. (See all the poll results below.)
Perhaps more surprising is the poll’s survey of the citywide Democratic primary for the at-large seat currently held by Vincent Orange. The poll, with a +/-2.5 percent margin of error, finds Gray receiving 32 percent of likely Democratic voters among 1,569 surveyed. Orange takes in 20 percent. David Garber takes in 10 percent, while former 2014 at-large candidate Robert White takes in 6 percent.
Still, with 32 percent of respondents unsure who they would vote for, it’s not clear whether Gray would retain his lead if he entered the race.
LL told Gray, who said he hadn’t seen the poll yet, that the poll showed him ahead in both races.
“Really?” Gray said. “Even at-large?”
Former Gray campaign manager Chuck Thies created Higher Ground PAC and solicited donations from Gray supporters just to fund the poll. The poll used automated telephone interviews.
The poll found that Gray has an advantage over his potential incumbents in favorability. Amongst Ward 7 respondents, Gray has a 67 percent favorable rating, compared with a 16 percent disapproval rating. Alexander, on the other hand, has 47 percent approval but 22 percent disapproval.
Citywide, Gray’s numbers are less positive, but he still has higher approval than his opponents. Gray has a 42 percent approval rating, compared to 37 percent unfavorable rating. Garber and White aren’t as well known, with 78 percent and 77 percent of respondents having no opinion on them.
Orange, in echoes of polls taken during his ill-fated mayoral run last year, is in the rare position for a local politician of having negative favorability. Twenty-eight percent of respondents approved of Orange, but a whopping 39 percent disapproved.
The poll also provides more details on other District pols. In a hypothetical matchup between the at-large field, where Gray is replaced with restaurateur Andy Shallal, Shallal comes in second with 19 percent to Orange’s 28 percent, while Garber and White are nearly tied, with 8 and 7 percent respectively. (Shallal’s new position on Muriel Bowser‘s Workforce Investment Council means he probably won’t run this year.)
Poll respondents gave Bowser a 45 percent approval rating, with 29 percent disapproving and 26 percent unsure. D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, meanwhile, received a 56 percent approval rating in the poll, compared to 11 percent unfavorable, and 33 percent of respondents unsure what they thought of him.
Citywide poll results:
Ward 7 results:
Photo by Darrow Montgomery