Closer to Home

National Journal
Steven Shepard
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Steven Shepard
Feb. 27, 2014, 6:55 a.m.

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.

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