LL sat through the ribbon-cutting for Harry Thomas Sr. Recreation Center last week with an agenda of his own. Maybe, if he asked just the right question afterward, Vince Gray would say whether he’s running for re-election.

No dice. Instead, the mayor had a question about his electoral prospects for LL: “What do you think?”

With the deadline for petitions less than than two months away, Gray has become an expert at wriggling out of questions from reporters about a second term. He’s even got a signature rhetorical move: telling reporters curious about his re-election plans to write about how great he is, instead.

Consider what happened when the Post‘s Mike DeBonis asked the mayor the same thing at his government shutdown rally.

“What you should do is write the article tomorrow saying Gray should run for four more years,” Gray said. “You want to write that?”

DeBonis did not want to write that.

It’s the perfect question for shutting up reporters, putting an ostensible lack of opinions at odds with a love of being right—-and saying it. But press-flummoxing skills like this don’t come easy. Gray’s been working on this move at least since August, when the Associated Press’ Ben Nuckols asked him whether he would run for another term. The exchange is a model of reporterly discomfort:

Gray: Don’t you think we’ve had an incredible record for two years and eight months, Ben?
Nuckols: That’s why I’m asking you about it, because you keep talking about it.
Gray: No, I was asking you about it. What do you think about our record?
Nuckols: I can’t take an opinion on it.
Gray: Of course you can. You do opinions everyday.
Nuckols: No, I don’t.
Gray: Those columns have opinions in them.
Nuckols: AP? Come on!

Maybe Gray is just testing his election messaging on the city’s press corps. If we get another four years of Vince Gray, we won’t just get a mayor—-we’ll get an editor, too.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery