In the years after former DC mayor Adrian Fenty lost his 2010 reelection bid, he did his best to become invisible. He ended a two-year stint with a local law firm and parted ways with both wife Michelle and his million-dollar Crestwood home. Soon he was spotted in Silicon Valley, squiring Steve Jobs’s widow, Laurene. If he showed up in DC, it was to visit his twin boys, whom he’d settled with his parents. “He got his feelings hurt,” says political activist Doug Sloan of Fenty’s electoral defeat. Once he was cut loose, says Sloan, “he felt too big to stick around and mess with the locals.”
Since his protégé, Muriel Bowser, was elected mayor, some locals can’t help but notice that Fenty’s back. “He’s been around a lot lately,” says Terry Lynch, executive director of the Downtown Cluster of Congregations, who has advised both Fenty and Bowser.
Fenty, who plucked Bowser—then a Ward 4 advisory neighborhood commissioner—to run for his DC Council seat and hosted a fundraiser for her mayoral run, shocked no one when he appeared at her January inauguration. But some were surprised to see him at a DC Business Industry Association function in May. Says one developer: “He’s been coming to these events more than he did as mayor.”
Two weeks later, Fenty attended a Las Vegas shopping-center convention, “never leaving [Bowser’s] side,” according to a DC Council member. In June, when Bowser flew to San Francisco for the US Conference of Mayors’ annual gathering, she made time to record a podcast with Fenty for Andreessen Horowitz, the venture-capital firm cofounded byMarc Andreessen.
The topic that day was how technology can help cities, a subject on which Fenty—who is a special counsel to Andreessen—has only bolstered his credentials during his time on the West Coast. Says a former Fenty political adviser: “It positions Fenty as a perfect adviser for tech firms that want to do business in DC.”
That thought has likely occurred to Fenty, who didn’t respond to Washingtonian’s attempts to contact him. “Adrian has been around town handing out business cards,” says a lobbyist who’s close to both Fenty and Bowser. “He clearly wants to do deals.”
This article appears in our September 2015 issue of Washingtonian.