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Muriel Bowser won the city's Democratic primary with 44 percent of the vote. Jamie Finkelstein | Hatchet Staff Photographer

D.C. Council member Muriel Bowser won the city’s Democratic primary with 44 percent of the vote. Jamie Finkelstein | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Muriel Bowser won the Democratic nomination for mayor Tuesday, defeating incumbent Mayor Vincent Gray. Here are some highlights from the night at three of the candidates’ watch parties.

Bowser’s supporters dance, celebrate
By Hatchet reporter Sam Morse

About 250 people gathered in Southeast D.C., where they danced and chanted “All eight wards” while eating chicken and macaroni and listening to songs by LL Cool J and 50 Cent.

“We need freshness, and she has that,” campaign volunteer Deborah Johnson said.

Bowser pulled in about 44 percent of the vote, besting Gray and a field of candidates that included three other D.C. Council members. She brought her family onstage for her victory speech.

“I will run a campaign of integrity and vision and energy and inclusion. I promise that the values of our campaign will reflect the collective values of those of us in all eight wards,” she said.

Gray concedes defeat
By Hatchet reporters Brandon Lee and Laura Porter

After starting their day at 6 a.m. to draw voters to the polls, an effort that failed overall in an election with low turnout, Gray’s campaign volunteers mingled with supporters at his watch party.

With 32 percent of the vote, he conceded defeat and congratulated Bowser a little after midnight.

“I want to thank everybody who worked with us. This will not be an experience where we drift into the end of this administration. We will work very hard,” Gray said.

Terry Shelton, a Ward 4 resident who voted for Gray, said federal prosecutors’ accusations that Gray knew about the more than $600,000 shadow campaign, which buoyed his 2010 bid, cost him the election.

“[Residents] feel very reluctant to cast a vote for fear that the other shoe would drop,” Shelton said. “Had it not been for that, then perhaps we may have won.”

Foggy Bottom's Council member Jack Evans watches results come in at Stoney's Lounge. Nicole Radivilov | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Foggy Bottom’s Council member Jack Evans watches results come in at Stoney’s Lounge. Nicole Radivilov | Hatchet Staff Photographer

An early night for Evans
By Hatchet reporters Rachael Gerendasy and Kristen Barnes

Evans arrived at Stoney’s Lounge on P Street at about 9 p.m. Tuesday. He circled the room to shake hands and hug supporters, with Michael Jackson and Prince songs blaring from the speakers.

“We went out there today and we covered the polls and we knocked them dead. It was a great scene as I drove around our city and saw all of our supporters. Let’s hope this goes our way, but if it doesn’t, it doesn’t, and I will be eternally grateful,” Evans said, addressing about 100 supporters before leaving the restaurant.

After finishing with less than 5 percent of the vote, Evans made a quiet exit at about 10:30 p.m.

“He just wanted to be at home and rest with his family. He has worked very hard these past two and a half weeks, so after celebrating with his supporters here, he went to go be with his family,” fundraising events coordinator Robert Leming said.

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Muriel Bowser won the city's Democratic primary with 44 percent of the vote. Jamie Finkelstein | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Muriel Bowser won the city’s Democratic primary with 44 percent of the vote. Jamie Finkelstein | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Updated: Wednesday, April 2 at 12:59 a.m.

D.C. Council member Muriel Bowser toppled incumbent Mayor Vincent Gray in Tuesday’s Democratic primary, raking in 44 percent of the vote.

The crowded race, which turned into a duel between Bowser and Gray in recent months, kicked off more than a year ago when Bowser became the first candidate to announce her bid for Gray’s seat.

“We wanted to launch a campaign across every ward and for every vote. I talked to people all over this city about what was important to them and what they wanted to see in their future,” Bowser said in a speech early Wednesday morning.

Gray, an alumnus, gathered 33 percent of the vote with about 71 percent of the precincts reporting. He started to drop in the polls after federal prosecutors accused him of knowing about a more than $600,000 shadow campaign that propped up his 2010 bid.

“This will not be an experience where we drift into the end of this administration. We are going to work very hard,” Gray said in a speech after he conceded defeat.

Bowser maintained a lead all night, with supporters at her Southeast D.C. watch party dancing and her family joining her on stage when she spoke. The Ward 4 Council member pulled in more than $1.3 million dollars for her campaign.

Gray won the Democratic primary in 2010 with about 54 percent of the vote, according to the D.C. Board of Elections website. He congratulated Bowser at about midnight, and now heads into a nine-month period as a lame duck.

If Bowser wins November’s general election, she would become the District’s first female mayor in about two decades.

“She takes the time to say, ‘I know you’re tired, but hang in there.’ I think that is one of the good things about having a woman leader. She is able to balance the toughness,” supporter Monica Ray said at the watch party.

Bowser has promised to improve middle schools by using top-performing school Alice Deal as a model across the city, create incentives to help senior citizens stay in their homes, attract young people with first-time homebuyer programs and appoint a deputy mayor for areas “east of the Anacostia River.”

“Change is about to happen. Not only to a single ward, but to D.C. as a whole. The whole city will change,” said Bowser supporter Walter Garcia at her watch party.

Jack Evans, the Council member who has represented Foggy Bottom for more than two decades, pulled in 5 percent of the vote. Evans also lost in the race for mayor in 1998, when he took 10 percent of the vote.

Evans, who left his election night watch party at Stoney’s Lounge on P Street at about 10:30 p.m., did not immediately return requests for comment.

Council member Tommy Wells pulled in about 12 percent of the vote, landing in third place.

Bowser will face David Catania, an independent at-large Council member, in November. Catania is also the chair of the Council’s education committee.

- Sam Morse, Rachael Gerendasy, Kristen Barnes, Brandon Lee and Laura Porter contributed reporting.

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Vincent Gray, mayor

Mayor Vincent Gray has raised $99,000 in the last two weeks. Hatchet File Photo.

Mayor Vincent Gray plummeted in the polls Tuesday, though he still holds the biggest fundraising advantage about one week before the Democratic mayoral primary.

Council member Muriel Bowser, who has remained neck and neck with Gray since he launched his campaign in January, pulled ahead in public support, according to a Washington Post poll. Thirty percent of voters now support Bowser, compared to 27 percent who favor Gray.

Gray has led the pack of mayoral candidates in fundraising over the last two weeks and pulled in more than $99,000 since March 10, according to his latest campaign finance report. He has about $322,435 left to spend before the primary – the biggest war chest of any of the Democratic candidates, even compared to Bower’s $1.35 million total fundraising.

He’ll need that money to help fend off his opponents, who are gaining ground after federal prosecutors said earlier this month that Gray knew about the $668,800 illegal campaign fund that helped prop up his 2010 bid. About 60 percent of voters don’t think Gray is trustworthy, according to Tuesday’s poll. He has repeatedly denied knowledge of the fund.

Bowser outspent the other candidates in the last two weeks, spending more than half a million dollars and dropping $107,000 on television ads.

Council member Tommy Wells edged out Council member Jack Evans for third place in the poll with 14 percent of the vote. Wells has shirked corporate contributions in his fundraising efforts, and has raised a total of $613,141.

Evans has almost $180,000 left to spend before the primary, and received $100 from former University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg. Evans, who has represented Foggy Bottom on the Council for 23 years, saw tensions flare during Trachtenberg’s tenure as his push for more development irked neighbors. Since launching his campaign in June, Evans has racked up a total of $1.4 million in contributions.

Busboys and Poets owner Andy Shallal has $65,785 to spend before the candidates face off in the voting booth on April 1. The fourth Democratic Council member in the race, Vincent Orange, has $26,258 left in his coffers followed by former State Department official Reta Jo Lewis who has $21,446 left to spend.

For complete coverage of the April 1 primary, check out The Hatchet’s mayoral guide on Thursday.

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Mayor Vincent Gray. Hatchet File Photo

Mayor Vincent Gray. Hatchet File Photo

Mayor Vincent Gray has more than $710,000 in the three weeks before D.C.’s Democratic mayoral primary, which he will need to ward off recent allegations about illegal fundraising during his last election.

Gray has raised more than $1.1 million since launching his reelection bid in January. Gray spent $327,414 since the start of February, with expenditures that included $23,000 on a polling and mailing list.

The campaign finance reports were filed as Gray faced intense scrutiny Monday, when federal prosecutors alleged that he knew about the shadow campaign which helped finance his 2010 bid. Gray has repeatedly denied knowledge of the shadow campaign and said the allegations were false. Jeffrey Thompson, the businessman who funded the shadow campaign, pled guilty to two conspiracy accounts Monday after funneling more than $2 million in illicit campaign funds to Gray and others over a period of about four years.

Foggy Bottom’s Council member Jack Evans has $457,469 to spend before the primary and has consistently led the candidates in overall spending. He raked in $145,807 this period. Evan’s expenditures included about $6,830 a month on his 14th Street campaign headquarters.

Council member Muriel Bowser, who recently nabbed The Washington Post’s endorsement, has $694,293 left in the bank and has raised about $1.3 million since jumping in the race last March.

Council member Tommy Wells, who has ran without accepting corporate contributions to his campaign, reported raising $57,771 and spent about $160,421 – the smallest amount of the major candidates.

Former State Department official Reta Jo Lewis raised $48,635 this period followed by Vincent Orange – the fourth Council member in the race – who raised $10,000. Busboys and Poets owner Andy Shallal’s campaign finance report was not available online as of Tuesday afternoon.

The candidates will spend the next three weeks attending debates and campaign events across the city before the April 1 primary.

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Foggy Bottom's Council member Jack Evans and five other mayoral candidates came to GW for a business debate Thursday. Hatchet File Photo.

Foggy Bottom’s Council member Jack Evans and five other mayoral candidates came to GW for a business debate Thursday. Hatchet File Photo.

This post was written by Hatchet staff writers Rachael Gerendasy and Colleen Murphy

Long seen as the corporate candidate, Foggy Bottom’s Council member Jack Evans took the stage at Thursday’s business-centered debate with more than just the home court advantage.

Evans, who has represented the area around GW for 23 years, repeatedly said D.C. needed to lower its corporate tax rate, which is one of the highest in the country, to keep companies from moving to nearby Maryland and Virginia. But as the other five Democratic candidates battled over big ideas to revitalize the city’s economy, Evans mostly touted his same platform items: reform tax rates and invest in venues like the Verizon Center.

Incumbent mayor Vincent Gray, an alumnus, said D.C. needs to better support its private businesses in “a federal government town” and said he would create a business regulatory task force.

When asked how candidates would spend the city’s projected $40 million surplus this year, Bowser said she would focus on homelessness, which she called “an emergency” crisis in D.C.

But Evans, who helped lead D.C. through some of its most tumultuous financial times, said that he would save the surplus money.

“When we get a dime, we spend a dollar. What I am intending to do with the money is hang onto it and not spend it,” Evans said, taking credit for his role as “one of the architects” of the city’s recent surpluses.

The candidates also unanimously supported marijuana decriminalization, which will reach a D.C. Council vote on Tuesday.

When asked how he would boost the economy and keep tax dollars in the District, At-large Council member Vincent Orange said he would turn D.C. into a Hollywood hub geared toward family entertainment. The idea, also floated by Evans, may be hard to implement as hit shows like House of Cards have turned to other cities.

Nearly all of the candidates said that the Metro system was underfunded, which Wells referred to as the “economic engine of our city”.

In a meeting Wednesday, Gray and the governors of Maryland and Virginia pledged $75 million in additional funding for Metro, which will help pay for the addition of new eight-car trains.

Six candidates attended, leaving out Busboys and Poets owner Andy Shallal and lesser-known candidate Carlos Allen, a rapper and businessman.

The debate marks the second time this week that the candidates faced off in Foggy Bottom. One month remains before the Democratic primary.

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With just one month remaining before April’s Democratic mayoral primary, GW is getting in on the action.

Foggy Bottom Council member Jack Evans, who has represented the area for 23 years, is one of eight mayoral candidates invited to GW's debate. Desiree Halpern | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Foggy Bottom Council member Jack Evans, who has represented the area for 23 years, is one of eight mayoral candidates invited to GW’s debate. Desiree Halpern | Hatchet Staff Photographer

The University will host a mayoral debate Thursday, one of more than a dozen that’s been held during this year’s campaign season so far.

This event, which will take place at 8:30 a.m. in the Betts Theatre, will focus on the city’s business climate. It will be moderated by the publisher of the Washington Business Journal, Alex Orfinger.

The eight candidates – including alumnus and incumbent Mayor Vincent Gray and Foggy Bottom’s Council member Jack Evans – were invited to attend.

University spokeswoman Maralee Csellar said all candidates have confirmed, though she said last-minute changes to candidates’ schedules may still pop up and keep them from attending.

The event is co-hosted by six city business groups, including the D.C. Chamber of Commerce.

On Tuesday, six of the candidates sparred over affordable housing, education and their fundraising records at a debate hosted by neighborhood groups.

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This post was written by Hatchet reporters Brandon Lee and Bridget Hughes.

One month before April’s Democratic primary, six of the eight mayoral candidates met Tuesday in Foggy Bottom to spar over education, GW’s relationship with neighbors, public safety and campaign finance.

Foggy Bottom Council member Jack Evans confronted five of his opponents – Council members Muriel Bowser, Tommy Wells and Vincent Orange, Busboys and Poets owner Andy Shallal and former State Department official Reta Jo Lewis.

Mixed opinions on GW as a neighbor

Evans, who has represented Foggy Bottom for 23 years, said he thought the relationship between the University and its neighbors is in its best shape in years.

“We have had our conflicts over the years dealing with universities, the students and communities and the universities’ expansion,” Evans said. “We may have arrived at a situation where things are going okay. They’re never going to be great.”

Wells called GW a “corporate behemoth” and said the University’s expansion has hurt the historic nature of Foggy Bottom. The other candidates said universities across the city should work more closely with neighbors and vowed to make permanent residents’ voices heard.

“Yes, GW is an important institution that employs D.C. residents, but we want to make sure that their growth does not impact our quality of life,” Bowser said.

All the candidates except Orange said they would not support GW or any other university if it tried to expand campus police jurisdiction beyond campus boundaries, a proposal that GW floated in August.

Incumbent Mayor Vincent Gray didn’t show at the debate, but said in an interview last week that he would push for more collaboration and training between campus police forces and the Metropolitan Police Department.

Foggy Bottom Council member Jack Evans faced off against his opponents on his home turf Tuesday. Desiree Halpern | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Foggy Bottom Council member Jack Evans defended his record against his opponents on his home turf Tuesday. Desiree Halpern | Hatchet Staff Photographer

For the second time in a week, candidates slam D.C. emergency services

The District’s emergency services organization, the first topic at the debate, also came up at last week’s forum in Dupont Circle.

Wells called for D.C. Fire Chief Keith Ellerbe’s resignation, saying the department has failed to respond to emergencies, lacks sufficient staff and fails to properly maintain or inspect equipment. The department faced a public relations nightmare in January after a 77-year-old-man died of a heart attack across the street from a fire station.

“If there is anyone here who has an emergency event tonight, I cannot guarantee a firetruck or an ambulance will get here in time to help you,” Wells said.

Shallal attributed low staff morale in the department to a “leadership crisis.”

“It’s unfortunate we have to have somebody die first before we have this conversation,” he said.

Evans said as mayor he would replace the current fire chief, while Bowser said the mayor should have the ability to discipline the fire department and firefighters directly instead of working through an oversight board.

“We have a situation in the fire department that is not working,” Evans said, citing his experience on the city’s judiciary committee. “We rebuilt the finest police department in the country. We did the same thing with the fire department. We brought in a new chief, put the equipment on a schedule to be replaced. But somehow in the last couple of years, it went dangerously off track.”

Candidates go head-to-head over campaign finance

Evans and Bowser have both pulled in more than $1 million for their campaigns, and their opponents criticized them for spending money donated to their constituent services funds. Shallal questioned their fundraising, claiming donors would expect favors in return for their contributions.

Evans said in response that Shallal, who is worth about $15 million, shouldn’t criticize how other candidates raise money since he donated his own funds for his campaign.

“Under the approach that you take that the rest of us shouldn’t be able to raise that much money, it leaves us with the situation that only rich people can run for office because they can afford to finance their own campaigns,” Evans said.

In one of the most heated moments of the night, Bowser and Wells clashed over campaign finance, with Bowser pushing Wells to admit that he had accepted corporate contributions in past campaigns.

“Don’t be a hypocrite, Tommy,” Bowser said.

-Colleen Murphy contributed reporting.

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Mayoral candidates debated about education, homelessness and city services at the Ward 2 debate Katie Causey | Hatchet Photographer

Mayoral candidates debated about education, homelessness and city services at the Ward 2 debate Katie Causey | Hatchet Photographer


This post was written by Hatchet reporters Samantha Sorbaro and Brandon Lee

Distracted by Student Association election results? D.C. is about one month away from knowing its next mayor, and the eight candidates have a frenzied, debate-filled schedule.

Here’s what you missed at Thursday debate, which was held in Dupont Circle:

Alumnus and Mayor Vincent Gray faced off against three Council members and two local businessmen – six of the eight Democratic candidates. Former State Department official Reta Jo Lewis and Council member Tommy Wells were absent from the debate. Lewis’ close friend and Wells’ wife spoke on their behalf.

Lots and lots of noise

Though candidates were given just one minute to answer questions, audience members were rowdy all night. The crowd of about 250 people shouted and chanted throughout the debate, especially for Gray and Foggy Bottom’s two-decade Council member Jack Evans.

Longtime friends Gray and Evans, who both arrived about 15 minutes late, whispered and giggled to each other most of the night. They often ignored the remarks of their opponents – particularly the lesser-known candidate Carlos Allen.

Major support for education

Gray and Evans both want to see earlier childhood education, and Evans said all children should be in the school system by the age of two.

“There’s no magic bullet to solving the education problem, but the most important thing is investing in early childhood education,” Gray said.

Busboys and Poets owner and activist Andy Shallal agreed that education was the key to solving problems in District.

“We need to make sure schools are not failing our children, because this city has more jobs than we have people to fill them, and lots of people who apply to these jobs that are not qualified,” Shallal said.

Bowser slammed D.C. Fire Department performance

In one of her harshest statements of the night, Ward 4 Council member Muriel Bowser – who snagged the Washington Post’s endorsement Thursday – said city residents have “lost confidence” in D.C. Fire department, which has been criticized for widescale staff absences and poor upkeep of its vehicles.

In January, a 77-year-old man died of a heart attack after firefighters across the street did not respond to 911 calls. Fifteen fighters who had been on duty that day were called into department headquarters for questioning.

“This needs the full attention of the mayor,” Bowser said. “If you have a culture in your fire department where the firemen can be across the street from a dying man and no one helps him, you have a problem in your fire department. We need a fresh start.”

Candidates argued about how to help the District’s most vulnerable residents

Candidates discussed how to combat homelessness in the District, an issue that’s grabbed headlines recently as cold temperatures and heavy snows have forced residents to seek shelter.

Council member Vincent Orange said city leaders should push for increased monitoring of the homeless population and should enforce a residency law to prioritize homeless D.C. residents first.

“We need to follow our own law, and have a rigorous examination of who is a D.C. resident so we can put them in the shelters first,” Orange said.

Gray called the law “ridiculous” and hard to enforce.

“The most important goal we’re trying to accomplish here is saving a life,” he said.

Colleen Murphy contributed reporting.

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Senior Patrick Kennedy presented his plans for a new bus route at Wednesday's Advisory Neighborhood Commission meeting. Judy Hyun Jeong Lim | Hatchet Photographer

Senior Patrick Kennedy said Wednesday that he wants to create a new bus route linking Foggy Bottom to Dupont Circle and U Street. Judy Hyun Jeong Lim | Hatchet Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Rachael Gerendasy.

A senior and top neighborhood leader has created a plan for a new bus route that would connect Foggy Bottom to Dupont Circle and U Street.

Senior Patrick Kennedy, who was recently elected chair of the local Advisory Neighborhood Commission, wants to add the neighborhood’s first Circulator stop, connecting it to some of the most popular off-campus destinations for students.

“It’s simple, and it connects to areas that GW students want to go to. In addition, GW students are unique among all the groups that would potentially benefit from the route in that we are literally almost 100 percent transit dependent population,” Kennedy told a group of neighborhood leaders Wednesday.

The route is still several years away because it will rely on a bus route through the National Mall that is not slated to begin service until 2015, Kennedy said.

But he will present the idea – which is already backed by the Dupont Circle ANC – at next week’s semi-annual Circulator meeting, hosted by the District Department of Transportation.

Kennedy also said the plan already has a “critical mass of support,” and hopes to get support from Foggy Bottom’s Council member Jack Evans on the project.

Junior and ANC commissioner Peter Sacco called Kennedy “the bus guy” and says he supports the plan “100 percent” because of its low cost, convenience and connections to popular areas of the city.

“A lot of students are intimidated by the bus system,” Sacco said. “I think we all have this fear that we are going to get on the bus and not know where we are going and end up in some strange neighborhood. The Circulator is not that way.”

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The College Democrats endorsed Foggy Bottom Council member Jack Evans for mayor. Katie Causey | Hatchet Photographer

The College Democrats endorsed Foggy Bottom Council member Jack Evans for mayor. Katie Causey | Hatchet Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Rachael Gerendasy.

The GW College Democrats gave Foggy Bottom’s Council member their stamp of approval in the group’s mayoral endorsement Monday.

Jack Evans, who has represented the neighborhood for 22 years, beat out fellow Council member Tommy Wells for the endorsement.

“Jack was very straightforward and clear with his answers, and that was also what a lot of people were looking for,” College Democrats president Omeed Firouzi said.

While many students live in D.C. for less than nine months out of the year, Evans insisted that local politics are worth their attention.

“Like many of you, I came to D.C. with ties back home. At some point you decide, this is where I live. This is where I am going to vote. This is an enormous opportunity to have an impact,” Evans said.

Evans also spoke about plans to increase affordable housing, strengthen the District’s education system and lightened the mood by cracking a joke about GW playing Georgetown university’s men’s basketball team.

Evans has raised more than $1 million in his mayoral bid, according to the most recent campaign finance report.

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