In a tent on Florida Avenue in Northwest D.C., a few hundred Adrian Fenty volunteers clad in white and green – his campaign colors – erupted in applause when he took the stage Tuesday night.
D.C. Councilmember Adrian Fenty had defeated Council Chairman Linda Cropp in an upset victory for mayor in D.C.’s Democratic primary.
Cropp, a political veteran, received the endorsement of D.C.’s mayor, Anthony Williams, and a fellow mayoral candidate who dropped out. She was also endorsed by three of her fellow D.C. councilmembers. Fenty, who won 57 percent to 31 percent, waged an effective grassroots campaign, knocking on doors and making an effort to reach out to District voters.
In his victory speech, Fenty attributed his win to an atypical campaign strategy.
“Five and a half months ago, June 1, 2005, we said that we were gonna’ run a different kind of campaign,” Fenty said. “We said we were gonna’ run the kind of campaign that energizes the District of Columbia.”
Yinusa Yusuff, Fenty’s captain for Ward 4, said he went with Fenty door-to-door and saw positive reactions from residents.
“They are happy to see him. When he knocks on the door and they open the door they love it,” Yusuff said in an interview.
Unofficial results from D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics showed Fenty garnered 57 percent of the vote, with Cropp trailing at 31 percent, as of Wednesday morning. About 98 percent of precincts were reported in these figures.
A mid-July poll by The Washington Post showed likely voters favored Fenty 42 to 32 percent.
In her concession speech Tuesday night, Cropp praised Fenty and mayoral candidates Councilmember Vincent Orange and Marie Johns.
“I want to congratulate Adrian Fenty,” Cropp said. “He ran a very good campaign, and I’ll support the Democratic nominee in November.”
Lobbyist Michael Brown, who dropped out of the race late last week to support Cropp, commended Fenty’s decisive win.
“He clearly ran a great campaign,” Brown said. “And when you get those kinds of numbers clearly, what do you say. You’ve just got to say he kicked everybody’s ass and then take your hat off to him.”
With limited support from the D.C. Council during his campaign, critics said Fenty might have a difficult time leading if elected. Brown said Fenty’s margin of victory would compel civic leaders to work with him.
“Right now I bet he’s savoring his victory and figuring out how to put his team together, but when you have these kinds of numbers its tough for folks to not be able to work with you. That’s what’s so impressive.”
Although not a main issue during his campaign, Fenty focused on the D.C. Voting Rights Bill in his victory speech.
“To all who hear this speech, just know that yesterday we paid federal taxes and didn’t have a vote,” Fenty said. “We’re going to go into this administration knowing that voting rights … is important.”
Fenty outlined priorities in his speech Tuesday night, with the crowd erupting in applause between his words.
“(The) reasons as we’ve spelled out and as they’ve been spelled out to us by the thousands of District residents who we’ve talked to over the past 15 and a half months are: fixing our school system; making sure that we have a government that is more responsive, that has more attention to detail, follows through more and engages the people more. And so we’re going to run our city like a business.”
Bill Aiken, a constituent service representative in Cropp’s Council office, said Cropp told him her plans after the election.
“She’s just going to take some time off and relax,” Aiken said in an interview, adding that Cropp wasn’t even planning to run for this mayoral election until residents encouraged her to join the race.
Now that Fenty has won the democratic primary, he said his next step is winning the general election in November.
“(This campaign) was founded upon the principle that we take nothing for granted,” Fenty said. Since D.C. first had an elected mayor under home rule in 1974, all of the District’s chief executives have been the winners of the Democratic primary.
Fenty volunteer Jason Turner said Fenty won because he was able to attract voters across race, gender and economic lines.
“From what we’ve seen, he’s reached a broad constituency,” Turner said. “I really think he’s established a broad appeal.”
Although turnout District-wide was about 32 percent, according to the Board of Elections and Ethics, Turner said turnout was especially low in Foggy Bottom.
“It was low – maybe because the Redskins lost last night. Monday night football hangover.”