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Vince Gray's ill-advised piety on negative ads

After Mayor Adrian M. Fenty's long-predicted move to air negative ads attacking his record earlier this week, D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray responded immediately.

Gray strategist Mo Elleithee spun it thusly: "After spending nearly $3 million on his campaign so far, Adrian Fenty has nothing to show for it. So he does what most politicians do when they find themselves struggling -- run negative ads."

The Gray camp also struck back with a radio spot and a web video of his own.

The spot features headlines such as "CITYWIDE UNEMPLOYMENT AT AN ALL-TIME HIGH"; "ROBBERIES AND SEXUAL ASSAULTS ARE UP OVER LAST THREE YEARS"; and, oh yes, "$82 MILLION IN CITY CONTRACTS" -- featuring an (admittedly fabulous) picture of Fenty fraternity brother Sinclair Skinner with a big smile on his face and a cocktail in his hand.

Umm ... isn't this a negative ad? You know, "what most politicians do when they find themselves struggling"?

I will only mention in passing the campaign's first video ad, since withdrawn, that took a WRC-TV report out of context to slam Fenty. And I won't talk about, in great length, the zest with which Gray has tossed out accusations of cronyism and malfeasance while pledging to be a conciliating, consensus-building guy bringing us together as "one city."

Elleithee defends the ads: "For a guy who has spent his entire political career bemoaning the use of negativity -- to begin engaging in it is very telling. To do it on the same day that he's pledging to be nice, play nicer, is very telling."

Fair enough. I don't want to feign naivete here. Politics is a wonderfully gritty business, and the self-proclaimed angels too often have dirty faces. Stuff like this signals we're solidly in the "silly season" -- the time in the campaign horse race when candidates hit the stretch, gallop hard and throw up the muck.

By Mike DeBonis  |  August 13, 2010; 5:11 PM ET
Categories:  Adrian Fenty , DCision 2010 , The District , Vincent Gray  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: DeMorning DeBonis: Aug. 13, 2010
Next: More Fenty hip-hop -- this time, a DJ Khaled tribute


My wife saw the video.

She said "Sorry baby, Fenty might be mean. But he is sexy as hell when he yells."

I don't think that was the reaction Gray was going for.

Posted by: politicalrealist | August 13, 2010 6:27 PM | Report abuse


Please do not embarrass your wife. You make her sound as crazy as you. LOL

Posted by: bnew100 | August 13, 2010 6:53 PM | Report abuse

politicalrealist, do the staff at Saint Elizabeths know, you have been posting on the Internet in the Library in support of KIng Fenty? I didn't know patients were allowed to use the computers at the mental health hospital without supervision.

Posted by: Ward4DC | August 13, 2010 10:54 PM | Report abuse

What is difficult to comprehend about the idea of the Mayor's negative ad is that immediately preceding it, HE was the one who apologized to his constituents about his communications. He promised, in so many words, that he will do better. Then, he proceeds to lash Chairman Gray.

Didn't he apologize to the voters that he hasn't communicated well with others? What messages are the fact that HIS ads are so negative suppose to send following all of his rhetoric?


Posted by: ILoveDC2 | August 13, 2010 11:32 PM | Report abuse

Mike, I have to ask a question. Anything else happen in local politics that you seemed to have missed?

Posted by: mamaspearl | August 14, 2010 6:49 AM | Report abuse

Yes, Mike

It seems you missed how Fenty is trying to find $400,000 for his thug friend Moten.

Go to the LooseLip blog in the City Paper for this story.

Fenty is a negative ad.

Posted by: bnew100 | August 14, 2010 9:36 AM | Report abuse

No. Gray going negative would be if he compared what he was doing in the 90's with what Fenty was doing.

You know, defending himself before the D.C. Bar Association's disciplinary board after stealing money from an old man's estate to which he was assigned to as trustee. Only returning it when he was caught by the family and reported to the bar. A deed to which he was sactioned as "incompetent".

There is a reason he is not a practicing attorney anymore. He "couldn't make it work".

Posted by: concernedaboutdc | August 14, 2010 8:35 PM | Report abuse

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