Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) announced her intent to run for re-election in 2018, pledging to use the capital’s growth to benefit more District residents, especially as the economic gap between white and minority residents grows.
Bowser, who began her term in 2014, announced her decision via her personal Twitter page in a short video Sept. 22.
According to Wesley Williams, public affairs manager for the Office of Campaign Finance, Bowser will face several other candidates. The first filing deadline is Dec. 11, 2017.
“Currently we have six,” Williams said, noting the number of candidates who have already filed for the 2018 mayoral candidacy.
Two candidates challenging Bowser are James Butler (D) and Dustin Canter (I).
The most well-known potential candidate to face Bowser would be former Mayor and current councilmember Vincent Gray (D-Ward 7).
Bowser defeated Gray, then the incumbent mayor, in the 2014 Democratic primary after Gray was implicated in U.S. Attorney Channing D. Phillips’s investigation over alleged campaign finance violations. Although prosecutors never charged Gray in connection to alleged misdoing, the U.S. Attorney’s Office prosecuted a dozen people connected to Gray’s campaign.
Gray has not yet ruled out a run to return to his former office.
“Do you want me to make an announcement?” Gray asked at the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club on Sept. 11. “I haven’t ruled it out. Let’s put it that way.”
Bowser highlighted her commitment to “D.C. Values” in her video and said Washington, D.C., has become more prosperous than it ever before under her leadership.
She also touted the promise of what Washington can still accomplish, imploring voters to re-elect her to sustain the District’s economic and social growth.
“Today, I ask for your support again,” Bowser said in her campaign video. “Washington, D.C., has never before experienced better days, and I know that together, we will see that our best days are yet to come.”
Bowser also listed her various accomplishments, such as pushing for an increase of the minimum wage, investing in affordable housing, implementing a body camera program for Metropolitan Police Department officers and investing heavily in District of Columbia Public Schools.
Bowser emphasized her ability to work with citizens of all backgrounds, noting that her main goal for the future is to grow the city’s middle class.
Bowser has made strides in education, as graduation rates at D.C. public schools have increased by more than three percent since she took office. Enrollment in public and charter schools in the District have seen a similar uptick.
In May 2017, Bowser announced a plan to increase per-pupil spending at D.C. public schools by two percent next year, as well as to introduce a “walkability” measure for D.C. public charter schools to give preference to students who live closer to a charter school than a public school.
“With hard work and commitment to our values and an ability to find common ground, together we are ensuring every resident has a fair shot at a pathway to the middle class,” Bowser said in the video. “We are bringing about progress by investing in education, public safety and affordable housing. We’re promoting and defending D.C. values.”
A poll conducted earlier this year by The Washington Post showed that 67 percent of Washington, D.C. residents supported Bowser, seemingly confirming her front-runner status in the coming mayoral race. However, while 47 percent of respondents somewhat approved of her decisions as mayor. only 20 percent strongly supported them.
Bowser may see heightened criticism concerning allegations of corruption leveled against officials serving in her administration during her re-election campaign. Bowser’s efforts to establish homeless shelters in each of D.C.’s eight wards were sidelined in 2015 after reports emerged that some of the sites to be leased were owned by prominent campaign donors. The mayor later amended the plan to open six shelters across the District.
Furthermore, City Administrator Rashad Young, a Bowser appointee, was accused by D.C. Councilmember Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3) in May to have improperly pushed for a roadwork contract to be rewarded to construction company Fort Myer, a company that had donated to Bowser’s election campaign.
Bowser has denied any wrongdoing in these situations, and no malfeasance has been found.
“If that’s a one off, that’s one thing, but who knows if that’s something that happens more frequently,” Cheh said at the time regarding treatment from the mayor’s office of Fort Myer. “If that happens more frequently, then that ought to be looked into.”
Despite these incidents, Bowser will likely be the frontrunner when challengers decide to enter the race. In 2014, Bowser won with about 54 percent of the vote, with her next closest challenger, independent David Catania, a former at-large councilmember, receiving only about 34 percent of the vote.
Bowser said to Fox 5 D.C. in an interview that she was ready to face a primary or general election challenge and, despite her frontrunner status, would not take the race for granted.
Bowser said she would challenge anyone running against her to come up with a better platform for dealing with issues in D.C.
“I’ve be challenged every single time,” Bowser said . “We are going to build our campaign to be ready for any and all challenges. And any challenger, especially one with a record of having been in public office, will also have to say, ‘What have we all done collectively to make sure as our city grows and more Washingtonians can participate in that progress.”
Correction: This article previously stated that federal prosecutors “dropped charges” against Gray in the 2014 campaign finance inquiry. Prosecutors never charged Gray in connection to the case.