GW alumnus and D.C. Council Chairman Vincent Gray skated to victory early Wednesday morning in the D.C. primary election, beating incumbent Mayor Adrian Fenty by nearly 10 percentage points and capturing the Democratic nomination for mayor.
The D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics called the race shortly after 1 a.m., with Gray carrying 54 percent of the vote and Fenty lagging behind at 45 percent. Gray received his undergraduate and graduate degrees from GW, and was the first black man to be admitted into the University’s fraternity system as a member of Tau Epsilon Phi.
Gray is almost certainly the city’s next mayor, as there are no Republican challengers registered to run against him in the Nov. 2 general election.
“Tonight the people of the District of Columbia sent a message loud and clear,” Gray said to supporters at his official watch party at the Washington Court Hotel. “They wanted character, integrity and leadership.”
Gray said D.C. residents must look forward and collaborate to solve the city’s problems.
“We all need to step up to the plate,” Gray said. “After all, this is one city, right?”
Delays plagued election returns, but Gray’s supporters remained energetic, chanting goodbyes and cheering “Vincent Gray, all the way,” as coverage of Fenty’s campaign appeared on television screens.
Fenty’s campaign did not grant The Hatchet access to its watch party.
The University released a statement Wednesday morning congratulating alumni in their primary election victories nationwide, offering a special message to Gray.
“Congratulations to all of our George Washington University alumni who won the primaries in their respective political races,” the statement read. “We would like to extend special congratulations to Vincent Gray, B.A. ’64, in the District of Columbia’s mayoral primary.”
Captain Kelton Ellerbe of the Engine 23 firehouse, located on the Foggy Bottom Campus, said he voted for Gray and thinks the alumnus will bring a different vision to the city.
“Everybody will be included – if not with a seat at the table, [with] at least an ear,” Ellerbe said.
The captain said his team attempted to reach out to Fenty on multiple occasions, but his office did not schedule requested meetings or return phone calls.
Other representatives from the GW community, including members of the administration and Student Association, also attended Gray’s official watch party to show their school spirit.
Dr. Bernard Demczuk, assistant vice president for D.C. relations at GW, said he has enjoyed working with Gray on a regular basis during his tenure as D.C. Council chairman and hopes to maintain the relationship. Demczuk was at Gray’s watch party.
“I’ve known Vincent for 25 years,” Demczuk said. “I’m happy for the city, I’m happy for Vincent and I’m happy for GW.”
Student Association President Jason Lifton stood on stage with Gray as Gray gave his victory speech and said he is excited to engage more students in local politics with an alumnus in the mayor’s seat.
“I think it’ll be nice having allies in D.C. government. We always want to make sure we have as many people as we can go to for help and [who] can come to us for help,” Lifton said.
Gray also reached out to Fenty fans, asking them to take his hand and promising transparency if elected in November.
“Only if we all work together can we move the city forward. Don’t sit on the sidelines,” Gray said. “Rest assured, I will never take [your trust] for granted. If you do your part, I’ll do my part. Together, we will help bring together the District of Columbia and truly build one city.”