Washington, DC City Council member Tommy (“liveable, walkable city”) Wells has taken the plunge. As I’ve previously noted, at the beginning of February he formed an exploratory committee to determine if he should run for mayor next year. Yesterday he announced at “Starburst Plaza” (the recently named entity located at one end of a gentrifying commercial corridor), that, indeed, he is running, after that “exploration” raised $150,000.
In their Washington Post article on the event, local politics maven Mike DeBonis and beat reporter Tim Craig opine that Wells thereby “becomes the most viable white mayoral candidate in two decades.”
Wells said that he is running on “integrity issues,” which in DC is code for “get the old guard out of office,” the old guard being African-Americans who were nurtured by the Civil Rights movement. Thus he rode a bus to the event, and, perched at the six-way intersection where “Starburst” is located, said according to City Paper’s account, “I apologize for the metaphor, but today we stand at a crossroads.” Good one, TW. Of course his main target in this is incumbent mayor Vincent Gray, who has been subject to an (interminable) federal investigation for possible violations in the 2010 campaign that got him elected.
However, it was raining as Wells said this (as the best picture of the event shows). Not a good omen. Gray himself has not committed to a re-election attempt, but his star has been on the rise recently as a result of pursuing locally popular policies (such as introducing a bill to let undocumented immigrants obtain a DC driver’s license), so that if he does run again in next April’s Democratic primary Wells will have a hard job defeating him.
The only other announced mayoral candidate is Muriel Bowser, a likable but lightweight African-American City Council member who lives in a middle-income area of the city and is the protege of former mayor Adrian Fenty. There are other possible candidates, such as the DC Democratic Party’s version of Harold Stassen, Council member and perennial mayoral candidate Jack Evans.
And the Fire Chief? Apparently he was not mentioned yesterday, but Wells has previously shown himself to be Fire/EMS Head Kenneth Ellerbe’s nemesis, so that if he actually became mayor the latter would be toast.