Bill de Blasio's rise to the top of the New York City Democratic mayoral field was built upon an afro. A TV ad featuring the candidate's son, Dante, propelled de Blasio to the nomination. Here in Washington, where Democrats will pick their nominee for mayor in four-and-a-half weeks, voters shouldn't expect to see the same kind of campaign.
-- Councilmember Muriel Bowser has emerged as Mayor Vincent Gray's chief challenger, Tuesday night's WRC-TV/WAMU-FM/Washington Defender/Marist poll showed. Bowser, who was endorsed by the Washington Post, needs to coalesce voters who think the city is headed in the right direction but are wary of returning Gray to the Wilson Building after tales of impropriety on his 2010 campaign.
-- Some of those voters currently prefer Councilmembers Jack Evans and Tommy Wells, who lag the two frontrunners. Narrowly, more voters say Bowser is their second choice than Evans or Gray. If Evans or Wells don't gain traction, look for some anti-Gray voters to bleed into her corner.
-- Don't expect to see a big TV campaign, Wells's new cable buy notwithstanding. In conversations with campaign managers for Gray and Bowser this week, the main tools discussed were direct mail, telephone and door-to-door campaigning. Gray's first piece of direct mail will be hitting voters' mailboxes soon, and the campaign says it's already knocked on roughly 50,000 doors; Bowser's camp described similar efforts.
One battleground ward on which the campaigns are likely to focus: Ward 4, which Bowser represents on the Council. Bowser campaign manager Bo Shuff called it "the most demographically diverse" ward in the city and touted Bowser's ability to appeal to voters across racial and gender lines. But Bowser can't count on favorite daughter status to boost her in Ward 4: It was Adrian Fenty's geographic base, too, but Gray won it easily in 2010.