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Muriel Bowser stomped over Vince Gray Saturday to win the Democratic straw poll in the Gray stronghold of Ward 8.
Bowser won 127 votes in the Ward 8 Democrats poll at Turner Elementary, beating out Ward 7 resident Gray, who only received 94 votes. (That was good for about 41 percent for Bowser, though another 38 ballots cast by people whose Ward 8 residence couldn’t immediately be confirmed may be counted later.)
“He can’t muster up 100 votes in his neighboring ward,” says Bowser campaign manager Bo Shuff.
Gray campaign manager Chuck Thies blamed the surprise loss on the Bowser campaign’s organizing efforts around the poll. “This event is by no means indicative of the electorate in Ward 8,” Thies says.
Possible sour grapes aside, Thies has a point. Tuesday’s Washington Post poll found Gray receiving 34 percent of the vote from combined survey results from Ward 7 and 8, while Bowser came in third with only 10 percent.
After the straw poll, Gray’s campaign put out a statement blaming the straw poll loss on not getting enough people to the event. Then it followed up with another release, this time with another quote from Thies and a screenshot of the Washington Post poll data.
Bowser looked as fiery as she’s been in the race, accusing Gray in a forum before the voting of spending the city’s park money on gentrifying neighborhoods like NoMa while ignoring Ward 8. Gray shot back that he could one-up Bowser’s proposal for a deputy mayor devoted to the Wards 7 and 8.
“You don’t need a Deputy Mayor for East of the River Strategy, you need a mayor who’s going to be focused on east of the river, and by the way, I live east of the river,” Gray said.
Vincent Orange came in third in the poll with 40 votes. Tommy Wells and Busboys & Poets owner Andy Shallal received 13 votes, while Jack Evans, who polled second only to Gray in Wards 7 and 8 last week, receiving only 10 votes. Reta Lewis received only two votes, a low that looks even lower when you consider that non-mayoral candidate Marion Barry, who missed the debate to be treated for a blood infection, received one vote himself.
The forum held took a strange turn early in, with longshot candidate Christian Carter, once so eager to get into debates that he crashed them, announcing in his opening statement that he’s dropping out of the race. Carter was facing two challenges to his petitions to get on the ballot that he had previously insisted to LL wouldn’t be a problem.
With a little less than 40 percent of the vote, Bowser didn’t cross the 60 percent threshold needed to win the group’s backing. Shuff says he’s not worried about failing to win the endorsement.
“On Election Day, it’s about getting one more than the other guy,” Shuff says. “And we’ve got, what, 38 more than him?”
Photo by Darrow Montgomery