OPM director has nice things to say about Fenty
President Obama may still be neutral in the D.C. mayor's race, but it appears as if the highest-ranking gay official in the administration couldn't be happier with Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D).
John M. Berry, director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), joined Fenty this morning in Dupont Circle to rename a section of 17th Street NW in honor of Frank Kameny, a veteran gay rights leader who was fired from his job in 1957 as an astronomer for the federal government because of his sexuality.
When Berry took the microphone, he began his remarks by marveling over the job Fenty has done as mayor.
"Mr. Mayor, as someone who has lived here for 51 years, you have done a phenomenal job of leading the renaissance of this city," said Berry, who was appearing at the event in an official capacity. "We can stand eye-to-eye and shoulder-to-shoulder with any capital in the world today. Thank you. Thank you."
Berry, 51, a native of Rockville who now lives in Dupont Circle, is best known by the 270,000 federal workers in the Washington region as the guy who determines whether they have to report to work during snow storms. Berry, a former aide to U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) has also been a longtime advocate for gay and lesbian federal workers.
Of course, Barry's views on Fenty shouldn't be construed as anything other than the opinions of a longtime city resident who just happens to work for Obama. But his comments, which come during the heat of the mayoral campaign, raise what many political strategists consider the big unknown in the election. Will Obama be sending a signal about whether he prefers Fenty or Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray (D) as his mayor?
Fenty was one of Obama's earliest supporters during his presidential campaign, endorsing him in July 2007. Since then, both Obama and Fenty have been quoted talking about their cordial relationship. In January 2008, a few days before he was sworn in as president, Obama and Fenty went to Ben's Chili Bowl for a well-publicized lunch of half-smokes. Obama also invited Fenty and his wife Michelle to his first state dinner last year.
While Gray supporters doubt the president would physically campaign for Fenty, some fear even a tacit signal of support - such as another lunch date for the cameras - could have an impact on the election, considering that Obama remains very popular in the District.
| June 10, 2010; 12:24 PM ET
Categories: 2010 District Election, Mayor Fenty, Obama, Tim Craig
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