WASHINGTON -- District of Columbia Councilmember Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) confirmed news that he's planning a mayoral run, something that's been talked about unofficially for months. The Washington Post reported that Wells openly discussed his bid at the Palisades July 4 parade:
"A lot of people are saying, 'Tommy, are you going to run?' " Wells said. "People have been asking me to run, so I said, 'Sure.' "
D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray has not openly discussed any re-election plans and many observers have questioned whether he'd be able to win as his 2010 campaign continues to be a subject of a federal investigation.
D.C. Councilmembers Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4) and Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) have also been considering running.
Wells, a former D.C. school board member and social worker, has been considered a progressive champion since he was first elected to his Ward 6 seat in 2006 and has been a strong supporter of pubic transit and smart-growth planning.
He's also tried to positioned himself separate from the various ethical messes that have snared his D.C. Council colleagues and hasn't built strong alliances with his colleagues. In 2011, then-D.C. Council Chairman Brown (D) removed Wells as the chair of the council's transportation committee, in a move seen as retaliation for Wells starting a council inquiry into the lease of Brown's "Fully Loaded" taxpayer-funded SUV.
The Washington City Paper, which has jokingly called Wells "Councilmartyr," wrote last year that Wells' colleagues aren't afraid to belittle him in private.:
“He does not command a lot of respect from councilmembers,” says another councilmember, who adds that Wells’ reputation “has been in a slow, downward spiral ever since he got here.”
Or, put another way by a different Wells colleague: "He's full of shit sometimes," said the councilmember, who says Wells is "kind of flaky," "goofy and thinks too highly of his own political skills. "He wants to be a player but a) he doesn’t know how to and b) he’s not reliable."
Those harsh assessments, echoed by other councilmembers and council staff in somewhat nicer terms, come as no surprise to Wells, who says his colleagues bad-mouth each other all the time, but that he’s proud of his legislative record.
"I've been one of the most effective councilmembers," says Wells. "But that doesn't mean that I have to be everybody's friend."
Brown resigned from office last month amid being charged with federal bank fraud, amid other charges.
The Post reports that Wells would like to raise $2.5 million from grassroots donors.