It took a while, but it looks like Jack Evans has found something to criticize about mayoral rival and one-time chum Vince Gray. In an afternoon appearance on WAMU’s Kojo Nnamdi Show, Evans said Gray’s reaction to the federal investigation of his campaign evoked Watergate and Richard Nixon.

At issue: Gray’s claim in a Washington Post interview yesterday that he doesn’t remember when he heard about the illicit shadow campaign that helped him win office in 2010. Evans said wondering about when Gray found out about the off-the-books effort, and whether he notified Office of Campaign Finance regulators when did, reminded him of Nixon.

“It harkens back to kind of the Richard Nixon Watergate, which is when did Richard Nixon find out,” Evans said. “Richard Nixon didn’t break into the Watergate Hotel, he didn’t even tell those guys to do it. But at some point he found out about it, and when he found out, what did he do?”

Evans went on to tie the mayor’s fuzzy memory to a certain disgraced ex-president. “And so with the mayor, it’s just the simple question is, ‘When did you find out, and what did you do?'” Evans said. “And I think that’s what people really want to know, and unfortunately they’re unwilling to provide that information.”

Gray campaign manager Chuck Thies declined to comment on Evans comparing his candidate to Nixon, but then, in typical Thies fashion, went on to comment anyway. Thies welcomed opponents bringing up the 2010 campaign, calling it a losing strategy.”You remember what Obi Wan Kenobi said to Darth Vader?” Thies told LL. “‘When you strike me down, I will be more powerful than ever.'”

If Evans is leaving Grayland, though, he’s taking the economic success with him. Evans said his own record is hard to separate from Gray’s, with the shadow campaign scandal as the biggest difference between them.

Evans defended that coziness with area developers on the grounds that, without deep-pocketed real estates types, D.C. would be another Detroit.

“For one to take the position ‘You should’ve always been against developers,’ we would been Detroit today,” Evans said. “And so we are not Detroit today.”

Photo by Darrow Montgomery