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Robo calls push Fenty write-in campaign

Washington Post Editors

Numerous District Republicans received an automated phone call over the weekend urging them to write-in Mayor Adrian M. Fenty's name on their ballots in the Nov. 2 general election.

The caller told Republicans they should support Fenty (D) instead of D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray, the Democratic nominee for mayor, if they don't want to reverse the city's recent progress. The call, which stated it was aimed at GOP voters, also blamed Gray for ousting Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee.

But neither the D.C. Republican Committee nor the Write Fenty In campaign is taking credit for the call.

Paul Craney, executive director of the D.C. Republican Committee, said the party is focusing on the council ward races and is not officially endorsing the Fenty write-in campaign, even though there is no GOP nominee in the mayor's race

"We have nothing to do with it," Craney said.

Josh Lopez, a leader of the Write Fenty In campaign, also said his organization did not pay for or sponsor the calls.

So who did it? Political strategist say robo calls are cheap to produce and send so it wouldn't take a well-financed operation to produce them. But at the very least, the producers would have to have access to voting lists with the names and phone numbers of registered Republicans.

In an overwhelmingly Democratic city, it's not totally unreasonable to speculate that perhaps a Gray supporter organized the calls to try to tie the write-in effort to the local GOP. If local Democrats believed the Fenty write-in campaign was sponsored by the GOP, it could help rally Democrats to the polls for the general election.

But Mo Elleithee, a Gray strategist, said the Gray campaign had nothing to do with the calls.

"I can assure you, it's not in our interest to urge anyone to write in Fenty," Elleithee said.

Even though they are denying this round of calls, Lopez said the Write Fenty In campaign may turn to robo calls in the coming weeks to try to get its message out.

--Tim Craig

By Tim Craig  | October 18, 2010; 4:00 PM ET
Categories:  2010 District Election, Tim Craig  
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Comments

"In an overwhelmingly Democratic city, it's not totally unreasonable to speculate that perhaps a Gray supporter organized the calls to try to tie the write-in effort to the local GOP. If local Democrats believed the Fenty write-in campaign was sponsored by the GOP, it could help rally Democrats to the polls for the general election."

This appears to be speculation without a source, which means it is reporter Tim Craig raising his own suspicion that Vincent Gray is running a dirty campaign.

I've worked in and around politics and newspapers for most of my adult life and do not consider this to be a reasonable speculation by a reporter. It is a political charge that should be sourced for it to be included in anything that purports to be news.

Why do the Post's editors tolerate this from Post reporters?

Posted by: Kathy8 | October 18, 2010 5:38 PM | Report abuse

This is ridiculous.

Posted by: nativewashingtonian80 | October 18, 2010 5:44 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Craig: Did you know that a lot of people claim that the federal government was behind the 911 attacks in order to get an excuse to start a war? Your speculation is along those lines, and since it has absolutely no basis in fact should be in a Post Editorial, and not disguised as news.

Posted by: tacard1 | October 18, 2010 8:01 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Craig: Did you know that a lot of people claim that the federal government was behind the 911 attacks in order to get an excuse to start a war? Your speculation is along those lines, and since it has absolutely no basis in fact should be in a Post Editorial, and not disguised as news.

Posted by: tacard1 | October 18, 2010 8:01 PM | Report abuse

It is completely ridiculous that Tim Craig even suggests the possibility of Gray being behind the calls.

This is just more of the divisiveness that is pitting people against one another and in the end holds Gray and DC residents back from tackling the real problems like childhood poverty, affordable housing, sleazy contracts, etc.

Posted by: letsbereal2 | October 18, 2010 9:59 PM | Report abuse

Washington Post, this is pathetic.

For some reason you cannot accept the results of the election. Gray won and Fenty/Rhee lost. Get over it.

Obviously, this write-in is serious -- an okey-doke to reverse the results of the primary while the Community is lulled to sleep believing this is a silly stunt.

Clearly, if this were just a stunt, the hidden forces backing the write-in would not have spent thousands on polling, and the Post would not be publicizing the write-n effort every other day (after all, if it's bogus, Post, why keep writing about it?).

Post, cut out the nonsense and join our Mayor, Vincent Gray in constructing "One City."

And bid a final goodbye to would-be King Fenty, Michelle A. Rhee, dog parks and bike paths, masking tape, 1930s racial humor ("Lordy, Miss Rhee"), and brooms. Fenty. Rhee. Their likes will never be seen again ... we hope.

Posted by: broadwayjoe | October 18, 2010 10:51 PM | Report abuse

Does the Post do journalism any more? Another unsourced and ridiculous claim: Gray is sponsoring the robocalls! Sorta like the Post's claim BHO was considering Rhee for Secretary of Education. FACT: he's not considering Rhee for Education Secretary or even clerical secretary.

Unreal ... and sad.

Posted by: broadwayjoe | October 18, 2010 10:58 PM | Report abuse

ZZZZzzzzzz

Posted by: efavorite | October 18, 2010 11:19 PM | Report abuse

I second that, broadwayjoe!

Posted by: shame_the_devil | October 18, 2010 11:28 PM | Report abuse

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