- The Washington Times - Monday, June 14, 2010

The primary votes for mayor won’t be tallied for another three months, but Democrats and D.C. workers are already casting favorable looks at Vincent Gray, Mayor Adrian Fenty’s chief challenger in the race for mayor.

And if endorsements, war chests and straw polls are indicative of voter sentiment, a long, hot summer lies ahead for the leading Democratic candidates.

Democrats in Ward 3, which rejected Mr. Gray in 2006 but Mr. Fenty, are set to reveal their hand Thursday when they release the results of a straw poll at their ward meeting and endorse a candidate.

Right now, the mayor has a huge fundraising advantage. Mr. Fenty’s fat wallet contained $3.2 million at the end of the June 10 filing period, compared with Mr. Gray’s $371,208, according to the latest numbers from the D.C. Office of Campaign Finance.

An estimated 59 percent of the Gray contributions were under $100 compared with Mr. Fenty’s 33 percent.

But Mr. Gray, who officially announced his candidacy April 24, seemingly has won the hearts and minds of key playmakers.

Both the D.C. police and fire/EMS unions endorsed Mr. Gray, as have four other major D.C. employees unions — American Federation of Government Employees, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the Metropolitan Washington Council of the AFL-CIO and the D.C. Nurses Association.

As for straw polls, the most recent was held Saturday by the D.C. Democratic Party and the first was held May 15 by the Ward 8 Democrats.

Registered Democrats who attended the event in Ward 8, which includes parts of Southeast and Southwest east of the Anacostia River, chose Mr. Fenty over Mr. Gray 69-61. A citywide poll last Saturday, conducted by the local Democratic Party, was lopsided in Mr. Gray’s favor, 703-190.

Of course, the turnouts for the polls don’t reflect the stronghold that Democrats have over the city’s electorate — 321,105 Democrats vs. all other voters, who total 105,426.

But the event Thursday in Ward 3, which includes some of the city’s toniest neighborhoods west of Rock Creek Park, could prove to be a bellwether event. Voters there have already conducted their straw poll and will announce their endorsement on Thursday.

In his successful race four years ago for City Council chairman, Mr. Gray lost Ward 3 in the Democratic primary to its then-council member, Kathy Patterson. She won 74.13 percent of Democrats‘ votes in the primary to Mr. Gray’s 25.69 percent.

In the 2006 mayoral primary, Mr. Fenty beat out six other Democrats to win Ward 3’s nod, capturing 54.86 percent of the vote.

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