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D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray “has told confidants that he is leaning toward running for the city’s top political office,” WaPo’s Nikita Stewart and Paul Schwartzman are reporting this afternoon.

They write that “several sources familiar with his thinking said that a core group of his supporters has outlined a fundraising strategy for the mayor’s race, discussed possible campaign messages and explored whether to hire a national consulting firm to help the 67-year-old sharpen his image. A Gray mayoral campaign, the sources said, would seek to portray [Mayor Adrian M. Fenty] as a divisive force who has lost connection with voters, a sentiment that Washingtonians have expressed in recent polls.”

Also a sartorial note: “Gray’s supporters have…said that Gray may need to ditch his preference for three-button, light-colored business suits, and wear darker, more fashionable designs.”

The reporters also follow up on LL’s reporting yesterday that developer R. Donahue Peebles is still very much considering a run. “[T]wo sources with knowledge of Peebles’s thinking said he’s interviewing media strategists and campaign managers about what approaches they would take in challenging Fenty. The developer also has paid for focus groups and a pollster to measure the electorate, the sources said….’The decision has been made to take steps necessary to enable him to pull the trigger should he choose to announce.'”

Stewart and Schwartzman report that “the latest rumbling [is] that he will declare his intentions next week.” The Peebles source says his man will decide within “a few weeks” and will do so irrespective of whether Gray runs or not.