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Former TV Reporter Switches to Politics

Leo Alexander, a former television reporter-turned-insurance sales executive, kicked off his uphill campaign for D.C. mayor Monday night.

Though the venue was small -- Pier 7 restaurant in Southwest -- the room filled with friends, old acquaintances and community activists anxious to see whether Alexander could be an alternative to incumbent Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D).

Alexander, 45, said he was more than pleased with the turnout, as a jazz band played in a corner and guests mingled. "I'm moved by it. For the first event, a first announcement, for someone who has never run for anything in D.C. ... " Alexander said.

Fenty's campaign coffers are nearing $3 million, and the 38-year-old mayor, who won every precinct in his 2006 election, remains popular, despite dissatisfaction with his missteps and his contentious relationship with council members and others.

"We don't have any money, but we have a ton of ideas," Alexander said. "We're up against someone who has a ton of money but no ideas."

Sulaimon Brown, an auditor, announced his candidacy earlier this year.

Alexander, who worked as a reporter for the local NBC affiliate, said the eastern sector of the city is not happy with Fenty, and the discontent is spreading. "I'm hearing grumblings even in Ward 3," he said.

He said he decided to run six months ago, itching to jump into elected office. He chose the office of mayor with the urging of friends. "They were, like, look, we can deal with (Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton) for two years, but we can't live with Fenty for two minutes," Alexander said.

According to his biography distributed Monday night, Alexander, a Brooklyn native and graduate of the University of South Alabama, has been involved in social service issues through his career as a reporter documenting events. After leaving broadcasting, he worked as vice president of marketing and public affairs for D.C. General Hospital and later as director of the Office of Public Affairs and Communications for the D.C. Public Housing Authority.

Alexander said he can be formidable against Fenty if he can raise $250,000 by January. The mayor won his first council race up against a well-funded incumbent.

The key, Alexander said, is reaching voters by "getting in front of as many people as possible."

Monday night was a start. He said he hoped potential supporters liked what they heard and would invite him into their living rooms to talk to their friends and neighbors.

"Curiosity," said longtime political activist Jeri Washington as to why she attended the kickoff.

Washington, who voted for Fenty in 2006, said she has grown tired of Fenty's "arrogance" and is disappointed in his performance.

"He came in with such a bait-and-switch," she said.

Douglass Sloan, a fixture in Ward 4 politics and an unsuccessful candidate for the ward's council seat, said, "I just want to see what's going on."

Meanwhile, some people were already sold on Alexander. "Ain't he sexy," joked Ward 8 community activist Sandra Seegars.

-- Nikita Stewart

By Washington Post Editors  |  September 15, 2009; 11:37 AM ET
Categories:  City Life , Mayor Fenty , Nikita Stewart  | Tags: Adrian M. Fenty, D.C. mayor, Leo Alexander, Sandra Seegars, Sulaimon Brown  
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"We don't have any money, but we have a ton of ideas," Alexander said. "We're up against someone who has a ton of money but no ideas."

I like him already!

Posted by: boo2 | September 15, 2009 12:22 PM | Report abuse

I wish him and any other candidate luck, but DC needs someone with real management experience. Someone that is simply going to say two things: 1) what are we getting for our money? 2) Let's find out what is going on because something does not smell/seem right. Those are 2 basic points DC needs to address. They don't need to be assumed they need to be discussed.

i heard a couple of his grand ideas. ending poverty sounds good, but "ain't gonna" happen. i'm not against it, but how about somebody who simply wants our government to work better? Or better yet, a government that actually works for the people?

Posted by: oknow1 | September 15, 2009 2:01 PM | Report abuse

Using recent poll numbers it is hard to say Fenty is popular.

Posted by: 411Tibby | September 15, 2009 2:02 PM | Report abuse

Fenty has really helped to divide this city; he's going to need his money covering up his track. Don't worry about money too much; worry about the voters and their needs.

Posted by: TheTruth35 | September 15, 2009 2:02 PM | Report abuse

This is going to be like TMZ going against Donald Trump.

I don't know about having a "Yankee" running the city? Aren't we already being advised by everything that is New York born and raised. Really, everytime I am looking around Fenty is hob-knobbing with someone from NYC.

Posted by: PowerandPride | September 15, 2009 2:37 PM | Report abuse

Leo? Who?

Posted by: knjon353 | September 15, 2009 2:42 PM | Report abuse

The Post is trying to convince us that Fenty is popular in DC.

Take a walk in WARDS 7 and 8.

Posted by: bnew100 | September 15, 2009 5:37 PM | Report abuse

It's a stretch but I'm willing to at least hear what he has to say. I'd like to now how deep is ABF.(anybody but Fenty) That would be an interesting survey.

Posted by: candycane1 | September 15, 2009 8:33 PM | Report abuse

I agree with 411 and bnew. Nikita, how about an update to this posting? How can you say Fenty is "popular?" Is there a legit poll we don't know about? Throw away lines like that just serve to ingrain what likely is a false reality into reader's minds. If this was written by the editorial board, then we'd all understand. But please, either update this posting with some numbers to back it up, or be more careful with your words!

Posted by: DistrictIndependent | September 16, 2009 8:43 AM | Report abuse

If you are interested in gathering some friends and/or colleagues to hold a discussion with Mr. Leo Alexander, please email me the details. Leo truly is interested in the people and hearing what you have to say.


Posted by: Lori_Glatt | September 16, 2009 10:42 AM | Report abuse

"We don't have any money, but we have a ton of ideas," Alexander said. "We're up against someone who has a ton of money but no ideas."

I like him already!

Posted by: boo2 -----------------------------------------------------

I loved that too. Great slogan.....

The Post is trying to convince us that Fenty is popular in DC.

Take a walk in WARDS 7 and 8.

Posted by: bnew100
Don't forget about 4,5 and 6 on your walk. You may not find people so BOISTROUSLY against him. We don't want to be fired from our jobs for speaking out against him before he is kicked out of office. But you certainly don't hear any public support of him either.

Not sure who Alexander is but I am interested in learning more about him. I am concerned though that there will be too many unknowns joining the race who will split the vote just enough to let Fenty slid back through the door again. WE CANT HAVE THAT!

Sulaimon Brown????? I missed that one. That just means there are two candidates so far who will split the ABF (anybody but Fenty) supporters up and that concerns me.

Posted by: centsmytwo | September 16, 2009 6:28 PM | Report abuse

BTW: I haven't seen it myself but I heard that "draft Kwame" signs were sited. Uhm.

Posted by: candycane1 | September 16, 2009 9:57 PM | Report abuse

This Ward 4 voter will not be voting for Adrian Malik Fenty. I would vote for Porkey Pig, before I would cast a vote for Adrian M. Fenty. Fenty is a big disappointment and he's not popular in Ward 4 either. Only the Ward 4 voters kissing Fenty's behind or have low numbered D.C. tags are his supporters.

Posted by: Ward4DC | September 17, 2009 6:00 AM | Report abuse

The post is taking liberties with the facts. Fenty is not highly popular in this city. They are using 2006 stats and poll numbers. Or, dare I say, wishful thinking.

I predict that Vincent Gray will "eventually" throw his name into the fray of Mayoral hopefuls, he has work to do as Council Chair right now that does not need to shadow of a Mayoral Campaign behind it. He already has name recognition so there is no reason for him to announce early and the moment he announces he will run, if he did an Obama fund raising tactic, getting funding not only from businesses, but from "the people" he will do great. I also feel that Kwame Brown will announce a run for Council Chair at or near the same time that Gray announces. Gray is not so much running on his on record as he is running against a very "unpopular" Mayor.

One thing I will say about Gray, he is a native, he has actually run the city's health department before, he understands the challenges of the city managers, he now has sat on an then led the city legislature and had to stomach an executive that did all he could to keep them in the dark. He experiences, I feel, will make him a REALLY transparent mayor in deed and not rhetoric and I feel he would build bridges with the legislature elected by the people as opposed to disrespecting them.

The moment Gray announces, I'm pulling out my checkbook and offering my time to support him. He should set up an automatic withdrawal system like the president did. No amount money or corporate endorsement will make me make the same mistake again.

That goes for you too "Washington Post".

Posted by: concernedaboutdc | September 18, 2009 6:13 AM | Report abuse

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