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IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:
Good morning, sweet readers! Did you remember to vote early and often today? When LL lived in a rural village in west Africa, he once saw a man vote a dozen times in a row. LL asked his friend, a poll supervisor, what was going on, and his friend said the man was voting for his entire family who lived far away from the poll and couldn’t make it in to vote. Let’s hope the Board of Elections and Ethics is a little stricter. News time:
Poll Vault: AH! There’s too much news! LL barely knows where to begin. First, the story that all others are now orbiting: The Washington Post‘s latest poll puts D.C. Council Chairman Vincent Gray 17 points ahead of Mayor Adrian Fenty among likely Democratic voters. Yikes, does this mean LL doesn’t have to cover the mayoral race anymore? “Although most of those Democrats polled credit the mayor with a record of accomplishment and say he brought needed change to the District, many doubt his honesty, his willingness to listen to different points of view and his ability to understand their problems. The criticisms are especially deep-seated among African Americans, who are likely to make up a majority of primary voters,” report Nikita Stewart and Jon Cohen.
AFTER THE JUMP: Underdog Fenty; Big G Controversy; Scenes From Sharpton …
Perhaps more interesting than the poll itself is the way the Post decided to unveil it. First, the editorial board broke the news Saturday evening when it released this lopsided editorial hammering Gray for hammering Fenty about those questionable park contracts. (Note to Jo-Ann Armao: you’re supposed to be the ref, not the head cheerleader.) Then the article itself comes out hours later with this hed: “Poll shows D.C. Mayor Fenty getting more credit than support in primary race with Gray.” Okay, technically true, but that’s been widely reported already. The big news of the poll, of course, is how big a lead Gray has with two weeks to go. And third, the editors at the Post decided to use a picture of Gray with Marion Barry for the dead-tree edition (for the Fenty pic, they used Hizzoner and Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee). Subtle, Post, real subtle.
Fenty’s reaction to the poll? Well, his flak Sean Madigan sent out an e-mail to reporters at 11:56 a.m. Sunday announcing that the mayor was having a press availability at 1 p.m. to discuss the poll. Trust LL when he says this is not typical Team Green behavior. Tim Craig reports that Fenty is now calling himself the “underdog” and said he will now try even harder to win back black voters. “He also urged the media to take a closer look at Gray’s record, citing several recent controversies about work performed last year on Gray’s home and his role in awarding a new lottery contract to a businessman who may have had ties to some council members. ‘He is the one who has two ethics investigations he is going to have to answer to,’ Fenty said.” The Examiner‘s Freeman Klopott didn’t make it on such short notice, but instead called Madigan to get this gem of a quote: “It’s official, the mayor has called himself the underdog.” Klopott notes that the Examiner editorial board had Fenty in Friday, where he was asked if he thought of himself as the underdog. His response: “I have no idea … But I never have at this juncture in all the campaigns I’ve ran, I’ve never known where the electorate was. … I don’t know how people know. In fact, they probably don’t because in all the races I’ve run, no one has ever had the number right 18 days out that it ends up being on Election Day, for better or worse.” What a difference two days makes. More at TBD.After he called reporters for a visit on Sunday, Fenty headed over to the parking lot off of MLK to back up Anwar “Big G” Glover and Ron Moten‘s unsubstantiated claims that the Gray camp pressured officials at WKYS (93.9 FM), the radio station where Big G hosts a show, to fire (or maybe suspend) Big G for supporting Fenty.
(Yes, Ron Moten is holding WUSA9’s microphone. The photog was all by himself and needed help)
There were a few Big G supporters pretending to be journalists asking loaded questions, reporters asking Big G and Moten about the intricacies of the FCC’s “equal-time rule,” and the discovery that Big G is not a Sunday Post reader (he hadn’t seen the poll story). See here for Craig’s write up.
The must-read in all this mess is Mike DeBonis‘ analysis of how Fenty is so far behind. It reads like a political obituary, which, with poll numbers this bad this late in the race, it might as well be. “Put simply, voters appreciate what Fenty has done but would like to fire him anyway. How did this happen?” DeBonis goes on to outline Fenty’s mistakes: Fenty lost his base in Ward 4, Fenty didn’t listen to anyone worth listening to, and Fenty thought he could win without the black vote. And DeBonis illustrates what Gray did right: “Gray was in the right place at the right time,” Gray developed a rep, whether deserved or not, as the “adult in the room,” Gray embraced interest groups rather than shunning them, and Gray adapted when his campaign started to falter.
Still want more? The Post’s Robert McCartney offers his two cents why Fenty is losing: “On style, Fenty is in trouble because he is widely seen as a self-absorbed autocrat who is unresponsive to citizens. The substantive explanation is equally important, however, and it clarifies the stakes in this election as well as why, according to polls, blacks and whites see the choice so differently. Notwithstanding the progress Fenty has made in improving the District’s schools and lowering its murder rate, his biggest shortcoming in the minds of many black voters is that he has mishandled the most important long-term issue facing the city: gentrification, and the racial politics that go with it.”
And finally, DC Watch’s Gary Imhoff isn’t buying the racial divide narrative of the race so far: “The longer people have lived in the city, the more contacts they have had with the city government or Fenty, the less likely they are to support him. The newer people are to the city and the less personal knowledge they have about the city government, the more likely they are to support him. That division may correspond to a high degree with race, but it isn’t racially motivated.”
TBD is all up on the early voting.
Scenes from the Dream: LL was backstage at the Rev. Al Sharpton’s “Reclaiming the Dream” event at Dunbar High on Saturday. Fenty and Gray both spoke—guess which one got booed? Hizzoner was, in fact, the only speaker (out of a dozen or so) who heard from the boo birds, some of which were quite lusty. Ron Moten was backstage at Dunbar handing out free copies of his Fenty CDs. Faith was there blowing her horn. And Councilmember Phil Mendelson was going to speak but didn’t for some reason.The very long march to the Mall was a clear reminder that we are a nation divided. Mostly black marchers passing white Becksters, 90 percent of whom seemed to be carrying a portable lawn chair and wearing a t-shirt with an eagle, American flag, or some combination of the two.
Say Yes! to Higher Prices: Will Yes! Organic be a success across the river when it opens this Wednesday? WAMU’s Ginger Moored talks to residents and finds a mixed bag.
Update on Gray’s favorite Sex and the City character
Why does everyone think Fenty must be desperate to agree to meet with City Paper? [DCist]
D.C. sues big accounting firm for botching school database [WBJ]
Kwame Brown runs 5 miles every Sunday [DCist]
Jonetta says people who hate Fenty have a fever, doesn’t use last names when quoting people [Examiner]
Conservative thinktank says a Rhee departure will undo reforms [Post]