With a federal investigation of his 2010 campaign still open, DC Mayor Vince Gray announced today that he is seeking a second term, finally ending months of speculation about his political future.
Gray, 71, stopped by the DC Board of Elections Monday afternoon to fill out paperwork and pick up ballot petitions. He has until January 2 to collect at least 2,000 certified signatures in order to make the April 1 Democratic primary.
Gray joins an already packed field that includes DC Council members Jack Evans, Muriel Bowser, Tommy Wells, and Vincent Orange; former State Department official Reta Jo Lewis; and restaurateur Andy Shallal. Evans, Bowser, Wells, and Lewis have been campaigning for most of the year, and every candidate to jump in before Gray has had a three-week head start on collecting signatures.
Meanwhile, Gray had been exceptionally cagey on whether he would pursue another four years in office, but took every chance to fuel the speculation by talking up his record over his first two-plus years in office.
"I am running for reelection to build on the progress and achievements of our first term," Gray writes in an email to his supporters. "Step by step, we are moving our city forward. We have built strong foundations. But our work is not done." Gray's campaign has also registered the website vincegray2014.com.
Ron Machen, the US attorney for the District of Columbia, has been investigating Gray's 2010 campaign for over two years over allegations that businessman and political super-donor Jeffrey Thompson bankrolled a "shadow campaign" that spent $653,000 in unreported money to help Gray defeat then-Mayor Adrian Fenty. Four of Gray's former campaign aides have pleaded guilty since May 2012. Neither Gray nor Thompson have been charged with any wrongdoing, and Gray has repeatedly denied having knowledge of the tainted cash.
"He's always had a clean bill of health," says Chuck Thies, a veteran Democratic strategist who is serving as Gray's campaign manager.
Thies says Gray will hold a formal campaign launch in early 2014.