Mayor Vincent Gray says he will run for re-election in 2014, after D.C. local politics-watchers spent months wondering if an ongoing federal investigation into his 2010 campaign would keep the incumbent out of the race.
Gray made the announcement Monday after signing up for petitions at the D.C. Board of Elections office.
"There are lots of people who want to help ... who have prevailed upon me to do this, have even had events at their homes urging me to run for re-election. I really think that people feel the city is going in the right direction," Gray told reporters after filing paperwork.
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Gray sent an email out to supporters Monday, urging them to sign his petitions.
"We are better off today than we were just three years ago ... We will formally launch 'Gray 2014' next year. This is not the season when people want to hear from politicians. Now is the time for family, friends and celebration," Gray wrote.
Nearly a dozen other Democrats have announced their candidacies, including four current council members; Tommy Wells, Vincent Orange, Jack Evans and Muriel Bowser.
All candidates have to turn in 2,000 signatures by Jan. 2, 2014.
Gray's 2010 campaign is the subject of a long-running federal investigation. So far, four high-level aides to that campaign have pleaded guilty to felony charges. U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen has said Gray's primary victory over incumbent Adrian Fenty was tainted because the Gray campaign received $650,000 in off-the-books funds from a businessman. Prosecutors dubbed the effort a "shadow campaign.''
Gray addressed the controversy surrounding the 2010 campaign following his official announcement.
"I think we're trying to look ahead," Gray said. "The 2010 campaign has been discussed many, many times in many, many venues. It's obviously still being investigated ... I didn't do anything."
Tommy Wells sent out an email to his supporters shortly thereafter, calling Gray a "scandal-plagued" mayor.
“Vince Gray was elected under false pretenses and doesn’t deserve a second chance because he ran a corrupt campaign,” Wells wrote. “I’ve known Vince Gray for years and I’m disappointed that he let me down -- and everyone in DC down.”
Bowser also sent an email to her supporters Monday referencing Gray's 2010 campaign.
"[Gray] will have to end his silence and answer the many legal questions about his 2010 campaign," Bowser said. "My only hope is that all of the candidates give residents what they deserve - an honest and ethical campaign that is about the many issues that make our city a proud place to live."
The investigation is continuing, and as recently as last month Machen said it is still active.
But Gray himself has not been charged with wrongdoing. And he is also running a city that is growing and prosperous -- when it was flush with surplus money last fall, the New York Times called it the "healthiest economy of any major metropolitan area in the country."
He's also credited with continuing education reforms, begun under his predecessor, that led to the D.C. public school system outpacing the 50 states in improvement for math and reading test scores.