AUGUST 6: Press Relations
Today’s Event: Gray spokesperson Traci Hughes offers me a chance to interview Gray about local-employee and living wage laws—if I was willing to snag him after an event. Wait a minute! This smells a lot like a certain incumbent mayor whose preferred way to meet the non-televisual press is while striding from a ribbon cutting to his Smart Car. I’m not going to base my vote on which candidate offers Jason Cherkis the best access. But I think openness to the media—especially about non-sexy issues involving local workers and government contracts—is a big deal. If this is Gray during a campaign, where he desperately needs free media, what is he going to be like as mayor?
Influence: This undercuts a lot of the pro-transparency happy talk of Gray’s campaigns. And it gets me thinking about his record: I called Gray many times last summer for reactions after a federal judge essentially demanded that the D.C. Council respond to the administration’s mishandling of the Pershing Park case. Gray didn’t return a single call. Only during the campaign has he called for the head of Attorney General Peter Nickles, the man at the center of the controversy.
Net impact: Back to neutral.
But: Gray has promised to reporters that if he becomes mayor he would bring back the weekly press conference—a pastime Fenty dropped. I’m still pretty sure that, unlike the current mayor, Gray would relish boring the pants off of Sherwood, Jonetta, DeBonis, and Loose Lips.