A day after announcing plans to run for re-election, a testy Mayor Vince Gray repeatedly refused to answer any questions about his scandal-plagued 2010 campaign at a press briefing this morning, or even to point to specific policy accomplishments of his administration.
“I’ve said what I’ve said,” Gray responded curtly to a question about his 2010 election campaign, which is the subject on an ongoing federal investigation. “I’ve said it repeatedly. I want to talk about the future.”
Gray, speaking at the nearly complete CityMarket at O development in Shaw to highlight the successes of the first year of the five-year economic development strategy he launched across the street in November 2012, deflected question after question about the 2010 campaign and the investigation, arguing that voters would judge him on his record. “Look at the job creation,” he said. “Look at the education. Look at the economic development.”
But when I asked him—given that some people trace at least some of the city’s recent economic successes to broader trends and the policies of predecessors Tony Williams and Adrian Fenty—whether it was fair for him to take credit for all the growth in jobs and tax revenue, he bristled at the question. “You’re wrong!” he shouted. “You’re just plain wrong! Excuse me for saying this: You are just plain wrong!”
I invited him to name specific policies he’d implemented that contributed to the city’s economic growth, and he responded by questioning my loyalty to the city. “Come on, you know what, I want to tell you something,” Gray said. “I’ve been to other cities where the media are actually, they’re not part of the payroll of the city, but they don’t sit there and try to pick a hole in anything they can get their hands on. I’m going to invite you to do the same thing. I appreciate objectivity, but that is just plain wrong, man. It’s debilitating to say something like that.”
Prior to taking questions, Gray gave a nearly hour-long presentation on the progress toward his goals laid out in the five-year economic strategy. He claimed to have completed 20 of the 52 initiatives, although more than a few were worded vaguely; the first one he checked off was “celebrate business that employ D.C. residents.” While Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development Victor Hoskins projects that the city will slightly exceed its goal of creating 100,000 jobs over five years, he concedes that the District is on track to fall substantially short of its target of $1 billion in new tax revenue. (It’s also not clear how much credit the administration’s job-creating programs should get for the jobs.)
When he didn’t dodge questions, Gray provided half-answers about his re-election campaign. “I’m a deliberative person,” he said in response to a question on why it took him so long to announce his plans to run. “I’m not going to supplant the jobs of law enforcement,” he replied when asked if he was disappointed in the people involved with his 2010 team who’ve been indicted by the federal authorities for running a shadow campaign.
And in response to another question about his campaign, he responded with the city’s go-to line to deflect any criticism: “I’m a native Washingtonian!”
Photo by Aaron Wiener