“I don’t need anyone to finance my campaign for me. I’m gonna eliminate this environment of pay-to-play.”

—megadeveloper R. Donahue Peebles, Dec. 16

In the early weeks of 2009, Mayor Adrian M. Fenty looked all but invincible. His Jan. 31 campaign finance report showed nearly $2 million in the bank—a staggering sum for a race 18 months off, sure to scare off any legitimate challenger. But in the year’s waning weeks, Fenty is looking shockingly vulnerable. His quizzical behavior and softened poll numbers have attracted a guy who isn’t afraid of his massive war chest. Peebles, a 49-year-old D.C. native who parlayed his 1980s Barry connections into a coast-to-coast real estate empire, has committed as much as $5 million of his personal fortune to a campaign. And Peebles has thus far demonstrated an active mouth and a penchant for needling Fenty—boding well for the best quotes of 2010.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

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