- The Washington Times - Monday, December 2, 2013

D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray ended weeks of speculation Monday by announcing he will run for re-election against a crowded field of Democrats amid an ongoing federal investigation into his 2010 campaign.

Ten others, including four sitting D.C. Council members, are already running in a primary race in which ethics has emerged as a principle campaign issue in large part because of the scandal surrounding the mayor.

But Mr. Gray on Monday insisted he has broad public support to seek another term.

“There are lots of people who have prevailed upon me to do this,” Mr. Gray told reporters after filling out paperwork at the D.C. Board of Elections headquarters in Northwest on Monday afternoon — about the same time a Gray 2014 campaign website went live online. “I really think that people feel that the city is going in the right direction.”

Mr. Gray will have until Jan. 2 to collect the 2,000 signatures needed to secure a spot on the April primary ballot.

Despite a pledge to create jobs and top-notch education facilities and increase public safety across all wards, the mayor’s first term has been dominated by the 2010 scandal. Questions about what happened during the campaign and what Mr. Gray did or did not know about it, have swirled around him since the start of his term and will continue to bob to the surface.

Within hours of the announcement, D.C. Council member Tommy Wells, Ward 6 Democrat and a candidate for mayor, issued a blistering statement about the mayor and the ongoing investigation.

“Vince Gray was elected under false pretenses and doesn’t deserve a second chance because he ran a corrupt campaign,” Mr. Wells said. “I’ve known Vince Gray for years and I’m disappointed that he let me down — and everyone in D.C. down.”

Another opponent, D.C. Council member Muriel Bowser, also referenced the scandal.

“Now that Mayor Gray is seeking re-election, he will have to end his silence and answer the many legal questions about his 2010 campaign,” the Ward 4 Democrat said.

Prosecutors have laid out a scenario in which businessman Jeffrey E. Thompson funneled more than $650,000 in unreported contributions to the mayor’s team, funding a “shadow campaign” effort to get Mr. Gray elected.

Asked Monday about the status of the probe, William Miller, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office, said “the investigation into the 2010 mayoral election is continuing.”

Neither Mr. Gray nor Mr. Thompson have been charged with any wrongdoing, but four aides have pleaded guilty to criminal charges arising from the campaign and three council members have called on Mr. Gray to resign because of the scandal.

Mr. Gray has been silent on accusations at the heart of the probe but insists he ran an honest campaign.

“I think we’re trying to look ahead,” he told reporters Monday. “The opportunity now is before me to be able to continue to do this job, so I’m seizing on the opportunity.”

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