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Posted at 12:24 PM ET, 06/10/2010

OPM director has nice things to say about Fenty

By Tim Craig
Washington Post Editors

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.

--Tim Craig

By Tim Craig  | June 10, 2010; 12:24 PM ET
Categories:  2010 District Election, Mayor Fenty, Obama, Tim Craig  
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Next: Fenty seems ill-prepared in TV interview


Personally, I don't care who Obama endores or campaigns for, I will never vote for Fenty again. I vote for him the first time and lived in Ward 4 while he was on the city council. Even though Obama now lives in the district, he lives in the White House. He does not have to put up with Fenty and the things that he does in this city. I hope he does not endose or campaign.

I have a mind of my own and I do not base my decisions on what others do. I base them totally on me.

Posted by: samvped205 | June 10, 2010 1:35 PM | Report abuse

Fenty couldn't take out Obama's trash. With or without Obama's support, I will NOT be supporting the worse-than-Barry politics of one Adrian M Fenty.

Posted by: concernedaboutdc | June 10, 2010 3:20 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps the WP should have put off announcing this endorsement.

The Obama administration should stay out of DC politics and this mayoral race.

Fenty will be judged by the residents of DC who will determine if he deserves to be reelected as mayor of DC. The WP cannot save him by trying to align him with Obama.

Posted by: bnew100 | June 10, 2010 4:02 PM | Report abuse

OPM is a disgrace under Mr. Berry. What is allowed to pass for "customer service" there these days is beyond pitiful. Perhaps Berry's endorsement of Fenty should be viewed in that contaxt.

Posted by: nan_lynn | June 10, 2010 5:17 PM | Report abuse

"context". Apologies for the typo.

Posted by: nan_lynn | June 10, 2010 5:19 PM | Report abuse

I am extremely "disappointed" in the White House decision to have the OPM Director accept this endorsement, at this time. It give the "impression" no matter how true or untrue it is that the Obama White House is intering its opinions into this Mayor's race and that would be a huge mistake.

Posted by: lacairaine | June 11, 2010 12:49 AM | Report abuse

This is not a good story for any but but Fenty right now.

Nationally, President Obama has stayed pretty referential to the District but have stayed clear of all-drama Fenty with his many scandals.

This upsets that perfectly crafted balance.

Secondly, after the Sestak issue the one person who should perceived of staying out of politically involvement just made the paper of record in a perceived push for a particular and very controversial and union busting candidate. Although this could be just nice words said at a public event. Wiser people might of taught better of attending. We need the context.

Fenty does push his association with the President to his supporters. I ran into a friend a little time ago. I told her I was no longer supporting Fenty. She said she was going to stay with him--he hasn't been supportive of her issue and although very qualified snubbed her for a job--but as a Obama supporter she was told he was Obama' candidate. And she hoped to work for the administration some day.

This was news to me. But she pointed at Viveck Kunda and Dan Tangleline as proof---of the boosting senior Fenty people had told her.

Reading this today, is further proof. .

For Gray--it does hurt in some areas of the city. But overall he will maintain a lead because all politics is local.

Posted by: 411Tibby | June 11, 2010 8:21 AM | Report abuse

All Presidents of the U.S. have invited the Mayor of DC to estate dinners and other events at the White House. President Obama's so-called friendship with Fenty will not persuade me to vote for Fenty. I am a Vince Gray supporter.

Posted by: fivetogo | June 12, 2010 5:43 PM | Report abuse

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