Politics 2010: Fenty trails challenger by double digits in re-election bid

By NICOLE DEBEVEC, United Press International  |  Sept. 11, 2010 at 8:50 PM
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WASHINGTON, Sept. 12 (UPI) -- Adrian Fenty, mayor of the U.S. capital, trailed his Democratic challenger by 13 points as early voting began 15 days in advance of Tuesday's primary.

City Council Chairman Vincent Gray had a double-digit lead over Fenty when early voting began Aug. 30, CNN reported. Because Democrats dominate elections in Washington, the winner of the Democratic primary is considered the overwhelming favorite in the November general election.

A Washington Post poll indicates Gray leads Fenty 49 percent to 36 percent among registered Democratic voters -- and grows to a 53 percent-to-36 percent bulge when factoring all those likely to cast ballots in the Democratic primary.

The poll indicates most Democrats surveyed give the mayor props for his accomplishments, saying he brought needed change to the city. But they split on whether Fenty, seeking a second term, is willing to consider different points of view and whether he understands the problems of people like them.

And a plurality surveyed says the mayor's not honest and trustworthy, the poll indicated.

Besides trailing in the polls, Fenty also got bad news from the District of Columbia Board of Elections and Ethics late in August, when it denied Fenty's request to allow unaffiliated voters to participate in the Democratic primary Tuesday if they become Democrats on that day, the National Register reported.

Fenty asked the board to allow voters who hadn't registered with a party to do so on the day of the primary, arguing the change helped to clarify recent changes to the District's election laws allowing for same-day registration in a primary for those who aren't registered to vote at all.

In the Democratic battle for Washington's lone -- and non-voting -- representative in Congress, advisory neighborhood commissioner Douglass Sloan tries to stress longevity doesn't necessarily deserve fealty in his challenge to incumbent Eleanor Holmes Norton, The Washington Post reported.

"It's time for a change," Sloan said, arguing that Norton's record doesn't merit voter loyalty if for no other reason than Washington didn't have a vote in Congress when she took office in 1990 and it still doesn't.

"Twenty years ... with no movement on voting rights -- that's hard to defend," said Sloan, only the second Democrat to challenge Norton in the Democratic primary since she was elected.

But Sloan faces long, long odds, a recent Post poll indicated.

The poll found 78 percent of registered D.C. voters have a favorable impression of Norton while only 11 percent view her unfavorably.

"I run hard with or without an opponent," Norton said. "But normally people look at the numbers of my past runs and decide, 'Maybe not.' "

Sloan said if elected he would think bigger than voting rights by pursuing statehood and proffers a "five-year plan" focusing on building momentum in Congress by external pressure, not internal politicking, the Post said.

He said he'd work with groups such as the Urban League, the NAACP and the American Civil Liberties Union to drum up national support and visibility on the statehood question.

Norton said she works with those national groups as part of the D.C. Vote coalition, saying her record shows she's been relentless in pursuing voting rights.

"What I think (the record) shows is that I just don't give up," Norton said, even as she acknowledged the effort is in the weeds after local leaders rejected a compromise that would significantly weaken the city's gun restrictions.

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