Mayor Vince Gray‘s announcement that he’s running for re-election means the contenders in an already crowded Democratic primary field now have the extra challenge of taking down an incumbent.

So how’s the competition taking the news?

Candidates Vince Orange and Muriel Bowser say they’re glad the mayor is running.

“Welcome to the race, I look forward to the dialogue,” Orange said. “I will say there is a distinct difference between Vincent Orange and Vincent Gray.”

And Bowser:

“We built this campaign around beating the incumbent, and that’s what we expect to do April 1,” she said.

Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evanshad no comment on the matter.  But Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells had plenty to say about the fact that Gray, whose 2010 campaign is still under investigation, opted to run again at the eleventh hour.

“This isn’t something that happened in 2010 and now the damage is done,” he said, citing the fact that Medstar Washington Hospital Center recently slashed jobs in part because of the bankruptcy of D.C. Chartered Health Plan, which collapsed after its owner Jeff Thompson allegedly funded Gray’s and other candidates’ campaigns illegally. “I know what’s going on in my campaign, and I think everyone knows what’s going on in their campaigns.

Wells also criticized Gray for briefly giving formal mayoral candidate Sulaimon Brown a job in his administration. Gray’s campaign paid Brown to stay in the race to give him an ostensible edge over then-incumbent Adrian Fenty.

“If that’s not the definition of quid pro quo than I don’t know what the definition of quid pro quo is,” he said.

Gray already has the endorsement of Councilmember Yvette Alexander, and after this morning’s Council breakfast she joked while standing next to Wells that it was a “neck and neck” decision to endorse Gray over Wells. (At Gray’s birthday party in late November, Alexander led partygoers in a “four more years” chant.)

Mayoral candidate and Busboys & Poets owner Andy Shallal wished the mayor luck, but said this doesn’t really change anything for him.

“I don’t think it changes much from my perspective, you have another person from City Hall running,” Shallal said. “I see it as business as usual.”

CouncilmemberAnita Bonds, who chairs D.C.’s Democratic Party and is not running for mayor (at least, not yet—who knows how many members of the Council will eventually get in?), would not comment specifically on the mayor’s announcement, but said his entrance guarantees an exciting race.

“This is going to be a terrifically interesting race,” she said. “I and the rest of the city have to remember that there will only be one winner. So I’m saying: stay tuned.”

Photo by Darrow Montgomery.