Fenty seeks turnabout for backing Obama early

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District of Columbia Mayor Adrian M. Fenty is calling in a favor - he wants an endorsement from the other chief executive in town, President Obama.

Mr. Fenty, who trails in the polls as District voters prepare for Tuesday’s primary, made the appeal during a radio interview on WTOP, acknowledging he is personally seeking an endorsement from Mr. Obama, a fellow Democrat whom the mayor and his wife backed early in the 2008 presidential race.

Such an endorsement has benefits in a city where the president is personally popular, observers said, but the move would cut against the grain in a midterm election in which many of Mr. Obama’s fellow Democrats would just as soon see him stay far away.

The request comes as Mr. Obama’s value on the campaign trail has been severely devalued as the economy struggles and his national approval ratings have plunged. Political analysts note that Democratic candidates in a number of key states are positively shunning any suggestion of White House support.

In heavily Democratic D.C., however, the same calculus does not apply, a fact that even a top official for city’s Republican Party conceded.

“For years, D.C. has heard the comparison between the president and the mayor,” said Paul Craney, executive director of the D.C. Republican Party, to The Washington Times. “It only makes sense that Mayor Fenty is seeking the president’s endorsement. It will be one of the few endorsements in this year’s election in which the White House isn’t toxic for the candidate.”

Polls suggest Mr. Fenty faces an uphill battle against D.C. City Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray in his quest for a second four-year term. The Democratic nomination up for grabs in Tuesday’s primary is considered tantamount to election in the heavily Democratic city, where black voters are by far the biggest voting bloc.

Mr. Fenty is struggling to connect with voters in some of the city’s heavily black wards.

Mr. Fenty and his wife, Michelle, were early backers of then-Sen. Obama’s long-shot run for the Democratic nomination for president. The Illinois lawmaker went on to beat front-runner Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.

On Wednesday, the mayor said he personally reached out to Mr. Obama, although he does not think the president will make a personal appearance on the campaign trail before the Sept. 14 primary.

“I have personally reached out,” Mr. Fenty told WTOPs Mark Seagraves. “I don’t want to get into who I would have talked to for obvious reasons.”

When asked if Mr. Obama would appear on the stump, Mr. Fenty replied, “I don’t think so. For lots of reasons, I don’t think that’s going to happen.”

© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

About the Author
Deborah Simmons

Deborah Simmons

Award-winning opinion writer Deborah Simmons is a senior correspondent who reports on City Hall and writes about education, culture, sports and family-related topics. Mrs. Simmons has worked at several newspapers, and since joining The Washington Times in 1985, has served as editorial-page editor and features editor and on the metro desk. She has taught copy editing at the University of ...

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