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Mr. Gray’s lengthy remarks focused on government’s ability to create the right conditions for businesses to grow. Jobs are joined by education, public safety and fiscal stability in Mr. Gray’s plans for a unified city, a platform that had been lost after a series of early public relations fumbles.

A recent poll found the mayor’s popularity dipped below 50 percent, after a whirlpool of scandals at city hall and drawn-out investigations into his administration’s hiring practices, which appeared to feature “fast-track” jobs for well-connected people. A grand jury is reviewing the claims of Sulaimon Brown, a minor mayoral candidate who says he was paid and promised a job to bash the then-incumbent mayor, Adrian M. Fenty.

Yet the mayor has gained traction in some areas, tipping a U.S. House oversight committee in favor of limited D.C. budget autonomy and calling for continuous protest against federal intrusion in the District’s affairs. He renewed the call for fiscal responsibility by sustaining the city’s funding balance, yet its ability to fund every priority - such as adequate police staffing - remains unclear.