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What is it about firetrucks and District politics?

If you happened to mosey on by the antique firetruck parked outside the Palisades Park recreation center on July 4, you might have gotten the sense that Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh has come out in support of D.C. Council Chairman Vincent Gray’s mayoral bid over incumbent Adrian Fenty. Following the annual Palisades Citizens Association July 4 parade, Gray supporters on the firetruck in question chanted “Vote Vince Gray! Vote Mary Cheh!” and other rhyming variations involving their last names.

Not so fast, Cheh tells City Desk.

“It didn’t come from me… My position is one of neutrality,” says Cheh, who has said she’s not taking sides in the September Democratic primary—but will be voting for someone whose name ends in “y.” (Sorry, Leo Alexander!)

So what gives? Both Gray and Cheh have drawn the support of the union representing D.C. firefighters, which, according to Cheh, had wanted to show joint-support for both candidates during the parade. But Cheh—who is running unopposed in the Democratic primary and is set to face Republican Dave Hedgepeth in November—felt uncomfortable with the Gray-Cheh coupling. “I did not want the co-mingling,” Cheh said.

So any joint Gray-Cheh chants that were uttered were not authorized by her camp. As Mike DeBonis recently noted, Cheh is “walking a political tightrope: She has to appease the local party faithful, who are backing Gray, while trying to avoid alienating Ward 3 residents fond of Fenty—or more to the point, Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee.”

File photo by Darrow Montgomery