WASHINGTON — A social media expression may best describe the relationship between Mayor Vince Gray and his potential successor, Council member Muriel Bowser: It’s complicated.
Since her convincing victory in the Democratic primary on Tuesday, Gray and Bowser have not talked on the phone.
No concession. No assurance of support for the Democratic nominee for mayor in November’s general election.
That tension was on display, paradoxically, at the D.C. Democrat’s Unity Breakfast on Friday.
“When the mayor’s ready to talk to us, we’ll be ready to listen,” Bowser said before the event started.
Gray has chosen his words carefully, even while exhorting fellow members of the party to be unified in facing Independent David Catania, who is also a member of the council.
Gray has shied away from mentioning Bowser by name.
“Hopefully the Democrats will not lose this election,” he said.
When asked directly if that means he’ll be supporting Bowser, Gray said he’s working to bring unity to the party. That’s the first step.
He emphasized that during his formal remarks at the breakfast.
“I, again, urge all of us to come together,” he said, not mentioning Bowser by name.
He also decried oft-mentioned laws that prevent Congressional voting rights and budget autonomy in the District.
Additionally, he became visibly upset when addressing rules that require two of the council’s five citywide seats to be held by members of the non-majority party.
Cantania, I-At Large, is one of those.
Gray said that system provided a “training ground” for people like Catania to launch runs for mayor.
The most striking part of the event followed Gray’s remarks.
He left the stage without acknowledging or shaking hands with Bowser, who was seated a table directly in front of him.
Gray headed for the exit, where reporters quickly asked about the perceived snub.
“Why did you not shake Muriel Bowser’s hand at the Unity Breakfast?” asked Channel 4’s Mark Segraves.
The questions kept coming, and Gray said he would go shake her hand–right then.
While D.C. Democratic State Committee Chairman Anita Bonds was speaking, Gray went over to Bowser and gave her a hug and whispered in her ear.
“There we go! This is great!” Bonds exclaimed as the assembly cheered.
Gray then turned and left.