Gray launches re-election campaign for D.C. mayor

WASHINGTON – Greeted with chants of “four more years,” Mayor Vincent C. Gray made it official: He is running for a second term as D.C. Mayor.

Gray addressed a packed auditorium at ARC-DC on Mississippi Avenue in Southeast for the noon announcement. Touting his record of success in creating universal Pre-K, job creation and affordable housing, Gray said the District is moving in the right direction, and that he is the best candidate to continue the progress.

Gray did, however, address an issue that has dogged him during his entire time as Mayor.

“Everyone knows that our 2010 campaign had shortcomings,” said Gray. “And I know that our city – and I was among them – suffered great embarrassment. So today, I want to apologize to you.”

Insisting he did nothing wrong and knew nothing about what others did on the campaign’s behalf, Gray acknowledged the 2010 campaign caused “great pain” for some, and he said, “I want to ask you for your forgiveness.”

Saying it “is time to turn the page,” Gray went on to tell supporters there is much work to do. He celebrated the city’s shrinking unemployment rate, saying the overall unemployment rate was over 11 percent when he took office. He said was just over 8 percent now. And in Ward 8, where his announcement was staged, unemployment was over 25 percent four years ago, compared to over 18 percent now.

“That’s still too high,” Gray said. “But we are working on it.”

Gray’s 2010 campaign has been the focus of a federal investigation. Four long-time associates of Gray have pleaded guilty to felony charges stemming from a scheme to raise money under the table for Gray’s election effort.

Gray now faces as many as eight challengers in the April 1 Democratic primary. Four are sitting Democratic city council members: Muriel Bowser (Ward 4), Jack Evans (Ward 2), Vincent Orange (Ward 5), and Tommy Wells (Ward 6). Former State Department official Reta Jo Lewis and restaurant owner Andy Shallal are also declared candidates.

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