Businessman R. Donahue Peebles, who has spent recent months exploring a possible challenge to Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, has decided not to proceed—-for now.
In a lengthy statement released this evening, Peebles explains that due to personal concerns—-including the recent death of his mother and his mother-in-law’s serious health concerns—-he “cannot enter the race at this time.”
You’ll note more than a little wiggle room in that verbiage. His spokesperson, Kendall Pryles, says the decision should not be taken as a final decision not to run in 2010.
“The door is still open,” she says.
Nor should it be taken, Pryles says, as any indication of Vincent C. Gray’s electoral plans. This decision, she says, was about family, not politics.
Full statement after jump.
As many of you know, I have been giving serious consideration to entering the 2010 race for Mayor of the District of Columbia. As a second generation Washingtonian and father of a third generation Washingtonian, I have a great love of this wonderful city and profound compassion for its citizens.
For nearly a century, Washington, D.C. has provided life-changing opportunities to four generations of my family. Dating back to 1935 when my grandfather, Thomas Willoughby, came from segregated North Carolina in search of a better life, this city embraced him with open arms. He secured a job as a doorman at what is now the Wardman Park Marriott Hotel and held the position for 41 years. He married my grandmother, Mamie Newsome Willoughby, at First Baptist Church and they had five daughters, all of which attended D.C. Public Schools and went on to college. After a prolonged illness, Mamie passed away while my mother and her sisters were young and my grandfather took care of his five daughters, his mother-in-law and his own mother by working around the clock.
He instilled in each of his daughters the importance of family, the belief that anything was possible in America and no dream was unattainable. His daughters instilled these same principles in their children. As a result his grandchildren have gone on to become doctors, accountants, educators, and entrepreneurs. It was this philosophy and the great opportunity provided by this city which served as the foundation upon which I evolved from a real estate appraiser into one of the most successful African-American developers in the country. In two generations, my family went from hotel doorman to hotel owner. Today, I own a Marriott Hotel in the very same city where my grandfather worked for over four decades. For the opportunities Washington, D.C. has afforded my family and me, I am eternally grateful.
Having spent much of 2009 in Washington taking care of my ailing mother, my desire to give back to this great city increased. As I drove through the streets of my hometown, conversed with friends on the current direction of the city, it became clear to me this was no longer the Washington I had grown to know and love. I spent the latter part of the year restructuring my company with an understanding and acceptance of the professional sacrifices needed to shift my focus to public service.
Sadly, after a prolonged illness, my mother passed away 40 days before her 69th birthday. In addition, my mother-in-law was diagnosed with a terminal illness and is receiving aggressive treatment and care. While we continue to pray for a miracle, the immediate outlook on her recovery is not promising. As you can imagine, we are doing our best to get through this difficult time with God’s help, the love and support of our families as well as countless friends.
My dedication to realizing the potential of Washington remains steadfast and my desire to work aggressively to bring about change will always be unwavering. However, my vow as a husband and my responsibilities as a father to support my wife and children during the rough path ahead must supersede my desire to be Mayor. However, I want to be clear that my commitment to seeing change in Washington, D.C. remains stronger than ever.
While I had initially advised many of my key supporters I would make a decision on my potential candidacy by the end of the year, I have concluded it will not be possible for me to support my wife and our family during this difficult time while aggressively campaigning for the Office of Mayor of the District of Columbia. Nor, under these circumstances, could I ask her to join me on the campaign trail as we take our message of change to the neighborhoods of Washington, D.C.
Therefore, as much as it disappoints me and the many friends and supporters who have encouraged me to run for mayor, I cannot enter the race at this time.