WASHINGTON -- Since Home Rule was granted to the District of Columbia in the early 1970s, all of the city's mayors have been African American. Could the next mayor be white?
With current Mayor Vincent Gray (D) dogged by scandal since his successful 2010 campaign, a handful of D.C. Council members have been positioning themselves to run in 2014 since few consider Gray viable for re-election. Some have been meeting with potential financial backers and "community leaders who could help broaden their citywide appeal," The Washington Post reported.
That includes two white members of the D.C. Council, Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) and Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6). Evans, who previously ran in 1998 and considered another bid in 2006, has represented much of downtown, Foggy Bottom, Georgetown and Dupont Circle since 1991. Wells, a former social worker and school board member, represents a more diverse ward, including the Southwest waterfront, Capitol Hill and H Street corridor.
The Post noted that At-Large members Phil Mendelson (D) and David Catania (I), both white, are also eyeing a run for higher office, though haven't taken the "overt" steps Evans and Wells have to prepare for a bid.
Last year, D.C. lost its black majority after a half century, according to new Census information on the city's population. While this demographic shift is laying the groundwork for a potential white mayor, some African-Americans in city leadership remain strong contenders for the 2014 mayoral race.
Many astute political observers have been carefully watching Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4), an African American who represents a diverse swath of neighborhoods spanning Rock Creek Park, from Chevy Chase to Petworth. Handpicked by then-Mayor Adrian Fenty to run for his vacant Ward 4 seat, Bowser has the potential to attract the same broad coalition of voters that brought Fenty into office in 2006.
The Post notes that At-Large member Vincent Orange (D), an African-American who has previously run for mayor, is also a potential candidate along with some wild cards, including Metropolitan Police Department Chief Cathy Lanier -- who remains one of the city's most popular public figures -- and U.S. Attorney Ron Machen. Washington City Paper named Machen the "Best Fantasy Mayoral Candidate" in a recent issue.
It's still, of course, very early. City Paper's reaction to the Post's declaration that "speculation has emerged" for these wild cards? "Yeesh."