Mr. Turner, a Mississippi native who says he was “disenfranchised for love” when he met his wife 14 years ago and moved to the District, has the mayor’s back.
“I don’t think that was a political move,” he said, “I think that was a heartfelt move.”
Mr. Gray’s recent actions have drawn applause and praise from D.C. residents and numerous community groups — a stark contrast to the air that surrounded his administration just a week prior.
The Committee on Government Operations and the Environment has held two hearings on alleged cronyism and inflated salaries among Mr. Gray’s appointees. The most recent featured a marathon list of witnesses, including a former chief of staff who admitted there were mistakes in the hiring process, and the panel’s chairman, Mary M. Cheh, has said there will be a third hearing on April 29.
It is less clear, however, whether the mayor and his supporters will be able to sustain the momentum he has gained on issues of D.C. voting rights and statehood.
The mayor has not outlined specific ways to keep the full-court press on Capitol Hill. Instead, he envisions a “carefully crafted” strategy that incorporates a wide swath of opinions from D.C. residents, and “not just Vince Gray.”
Nonetheless, he and his supporters say the arrests and other festivities are just the beginning of a sustained effort.
“Monday, at best, is a catalyst for action,” the mayor told members of D.C. Vote at a Friday rally near the Capitol.
Communications specialist Adam Clampitt, who ran for D.C. Council in 2008, is optimistic about Mr. Gray’s prospects. He said if the mayor can keep important issues in the public eye, “then people really are going to see the real Vince Gray.”
“It was a shame that things got sidetracked,” Mr. Clampitt said, a reference to the mayor’s early troubles. “If Congress continues to use the District as a bargaining chip, then I think there’s really an opportunity for him to make a name for himself.”
The District may have struggled with the autonomy question for more than 200 years, but pro-statehood folks say there is something new in the air. The usual comparisons to the abolitionist movement and civil unrest in the 1960s have been joined by references to pro-democracy flare-ups in the Middle East.
“I think what happened Monday is our fruit truck, our fruit stand,” said “Shadow” U.S. Rep. Mike Panetta, a reference to the Tunisian merchant credited with kicking off the Middle East rallies, on Friday.
Council Member Michael A. Brown, at-large independent and chairman of the Committee on Statehood and Self-Determination, said he would like to see “fresh faces” at hearings on D.C. autonomy.
“You have to use that spark, just like they did in [Beijing’s] Tiananmen Square and the civil rights movement,” Mr. Brown said.
He also offered support for the mayor, who, for one week, rose above the distractions.