Washington, D.C., Mayor Vince Gray, who had a solid lead a month before the Democratic primary, will not serve a second term in office, the Washington Post reports. Amid scandal over campaign financing and one of the lowest voter turnouts in history, the mayor conceded defeat early Wednesday morning to Council of the District of Columbia member Muriel Bowser.
What may have been the 41-year-old Ward 4 council member’s biggest weapon in defeating Gray was Gray himself. Many voters who spoke with the Washington Post said that they believed Bowser had the best shot at defeating Gray, even if they didn’t know much about her.
Earlier this year Jeffrey Thompson, a Washington businessman who pleaded guilty to conspiracy for masterminding a nearly $670,000 illegal “shadow campaign” for Gray in 2010, claimed that Gray was fully aware of the illegal fundraising tactic, the Post reports.
According to the Post, during the Thompson hearing, prosecutors publicly claimed that Gray had agreed with Thompson to cover up the illegal fundraising. Gray has claimed that he was not aware of any wrongdoing, did not know of the shadow campaign and did nothing wrong.
Bowser’s win comes with many more months of uncertainty, since she must still face a general-election challenger while a lame-duck Gray is left to guide the city under the threat of federal indictment, the Post reports. Although her general-election victory is likely—the city votes almost 97 percent Democrat—it’s not a guarantee, the Post says, citing a number of expected challengers on the ballot.
According to the District of Columbia Board of Elections, Bowser captured 44 percent of the vote, compared with Gray’s 33 percent of the historically low turnout. Only 72,908 people voted in Tuesday’s primary, compared with the more than 130,000 people who voted in the Democratic primary in 2010.
Gray thanked his supporters in his concession speech, and although he congratulated Bowser on her successful campaign, he did not endorse her. He told CNN after his speech that he had yet to decide whether he would endorse his former rival.
Bowser struck a note of unity in her acceptance speech, telling her rivals’ supporters that she will listen to their concerns and work just as hard for them.
“It’s our job to let them know that I’ll be their mayor, too,” she said. “We’re going to earn their support. We’re going to hear their vision, and we’re going to work with them.”