It’s been a busy, challenging week for DC Mayor Vincent Gray, and a highly visible one as well, in which he’s been viewed as asserting himself on the matter of the federal government shutdown. First, he declared DC government workers “essential” so that the city would keep operating. To fund staying open he made the decision to use money from the city’s contingency cash reserves, money that is not under federal control. He would have preferred to use the more than $6 billion that comes from taxes on property, income, and sales, but that money is under federal control and, according to him, being held “hostage” by Congress.
What is being spent out of the reserve fund to run the city per day? Gray said, “Our budget is $10.1 billion a year. So divide 365 into that, and that’s what we’re using of the reserve fund.” We did the math, and it comes to about $27.6 million per day.
All of this comes at a time when challengers are picking up their pace for next year’s mayoral election. Like the national question about whether former secretary of state Hillary Clinton will run for president, in DC the question is: What will Vince Gray do?
On Thursday, in a phone conversation with Washingtonian, he said, “Over the next few weeks I have to decide.” There’s a deadline for picking up petitions and another deadline for filing. Whatever he decides—and he sounded very much like a politician who has decided—he says “this job is the best campaign you can run. People can evaluate your capacity to lead. These other guys can go do what they’ve got to do, but I’ve got a record, a track record, and I feel very comfortable standing on my track record.”
Does he care whether he gets into the race late? “No matter when I get in, that’s what they are going to evaluate me on: my record.” Does he think voters will care about the campaign fraud issue that has dogged him since his election? He said what he’s said before: “You have to ask the voters.” We wondered whether he’d done any polling. He said, “No, I have not, but there have been polls done by others, and I was ahead.”