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Chuck Thies

Vince Gray campaign manager Chuck Thies blames his boss’s nearly 12-point loss to Muriel Bowser in the Democratic mayoral primary yesterday on one man.

“One thing changed this election: Ron Machen,” Thies said.

Speaking after Gray’s concession speech to a knot of reporters, campaign workers, and Gray administration staffers in the Hyatt Regency Ballroom, Thies explained. He said the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s March 10 plea hearing with Gray shadow campaign financier Jeff Thompson doomed Gray’s chances thanks to its pre-election timing—-timing that Thies calls “intentional.”

After his speech, Gray himself called the timing of the plea with Thompson “odd.” He compared his situation with former Virginia governor and man-of-expensive taste Bob McDonnell, whose indictment was delayed until he left office. Why, Gray wondered, couldn’t he get similar treatment for Thompson’s plea?

Can of Sierra Nevada in hand, Thies complained about the details included in Thompson’s statement of offense, especially the “Uncle Earl” alias Gray has admitted using for Thompson. “Why create the made-for-Twitter ‘Uncle Earl’ moment?” Thies said.

Thies was joined by Gray chief of staff Chris Murphy, who had some Machen-bashing of his own.

“Are U.S. Attorneys deciding elections?” Murphy asked Thies rhetorically. “We shouldn’t vote. Why do we bother voting?”

Gray campaign political director Steve Glaude, who now returns to his job as Gray’s director of community affairs, listed other obstacles that helped foil Gray’s re-election. Among them: a late start date and a smaller campaign staff and budget than Gray’s first mayoral bid.

Thies, disappearing into the hotel with the other Gray staffers, yelled at Glaude that they were going to finish the rest of the beers. That, Glaude explained, was his cue to stop talking to LL.

Photo by Will Sommer