In the culmination of a highly contested race to determine the next mayor of D.C., Council Chairman Vincent Gray defeated incumbent Mayor Adrian Fenty in the Democratic Primary on Tuesday, handily winning the majority of the District’s black vote.
With almost 90 percent of the precincts tallied at 2:30 a.m. on Wednesday, showing a 53 to 46 percent lead for Gray, Fenty’s campaign conceded the election to Gray according to The Washington Post. Gray declared victory at 1:56 a.m. Wednesday, writing on his campaign blog, “We did it!” Although the primary determines the Democratic candidate for the general election, the Republican party has not submitted a candidate for the vote on Nov. 2.
Demographics played a key part in Fenty’s defeat. Before the election, 64 percent of black Democrats supported Gray, while 64 percent of white Democrats supported Fenty, according to a Washington Post poll taken two weeks before the election.
In the elections, 80 percent of Anacostia, a majority black region across the Anacostia River, voted for Gray, while 80 percent of the majority white portions of Northwest D.C. voted for Fenty, according to The Washington Post.
Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), who won the Democratic primary to run as the House representative for D.C., addressed the racial divide in the election.
“We will need a city where unnecessary and harmful division has been set aside,” Norton said. “I am confident that Vince Gray will quickly heal any breaches that may have developed so that we can get on with the major issues that confront us in the city and in the Congress.”
Gray said that he was trying to rebuild the divided party after the primary.
“I am going to spend the next seven weeks between the primary and general election reaching out to people, especially those who may not have voted for me,” he said.
Though suspicions were raised that Fenty would consider running under a Republican or Independent ticket in the general election on Nov. 2, Fenty rejected the idea.
“I’ve had my turn, being a public servant and elected representative. For a quarter of my life I’ve been doing it, more than half my adult life. I feel that’s a great run,” Fenty said in his concession speech.
Fenty’s supporters pointed to his series of accomplishments while mayor. Homicide rates have gone down during Fenty’s tenure as mayor, according to The Washington Post.
Fenty’s biggest reform, however, occurred in education with his appointment of Michelle Rhee, chancellor of the D.C. school system. Rhee fired over a hundred teachers and principals who failed to meet standardized test score standards, a popular decision among many education reformers, but a polarizing one for some citizens of Washington, D.C. Gray has not clarified if he will keep Rhee as chancellor.
“We’re going to prove that collaboration and reform are not mutually exclusive. We will continue to aggressively reform our schools. We’re going to invest in getting District residents back to work, and we’re going to fight crime on every block and ensure our families are safe and feel safe in every neighborhood,” Gray wrote, in his final blog entry on his campaign website.”