If any DC elected official dithered about re-election more than Mayor Vince Gray, it was Council member Jim Graham. But Graham, who represents Ward 1 (which includes U Street, Adams Morgan, Columbia Heights, and Mount Pleasant) announced today that he plans to seek a fifth term.
Graham, who had set up an exploratory committee a few months back, said in an interview on NewsChannel 8 that he briefly considered not running because of his age. But the 68-year-old said he changed his mind because he still relishes performing constituent services.
Although he is the instant frontrunner in a race that already includes several candidates, Graham’s time on the Council has been marked by a spotty ethical record. In February, Graham was admonished by the District ethics board for a May 2008 conversation with a city contractor in which he allegedly used his position as a Metro board member by offering a DC Lottery contract in exchange for the contractor pulling out of a Metro construction project. Graham was not formally charged, but the ethics board report did earn him a reprimand from his colleagues and the loss of his oversight of the Alcoholic Beverage Regulatory Administration.
“I certainly wish I hadn’t said what I said, if I said it,” Graham said in the interview today. But his opponents, especially those seeking to run as a progressive break from an entrenched incumbent, were quick to strike at his record.
“The Councilmember’s decision to seek re-election reflects just how out of touch he has become about the importance of the public’s trust in our government,” said Bryan Weaver, who also ran against Graham in 2010.
Another Ward 1 candidate, Brianne Nadeau said in her own statement that four terms is long enough for a guy like Graham. “After 15 years, voters in Ward 1 are telling me they’re ready for a new energy and some real leadership on the Council.”
Graham’s announcement comes one day before the DC Office of Campaign Finance’s next deadline for fundraising reports.