Fenty Loses Re-Election Bid for Mayor in District's Primary, AP Reports

Mayor Adrian Fenty lost his bid for re-election in the Washington, D.C., Democratic primary, according to the Associated Press.

Fenty’s opponent, City Council Chairman Vincent Gray, had 53 percent of yesterday’s vote to 46 percent for Fenty, with 90 percent of the precincts reporting, according to AP. Gray, 67, will likely become mayor in the predominately Democratic city, where there is currently no Republican opponent.

“Tonight the people of the District sent a message loud and clear,” Gray told supporters. “Not it’s time for us to look forward.”

Fenty, 39, the youngest mayor in D.C. history, made improving the city’s schools a top priority. He brought in Michelle Rhee as public schools chancellor. She drew attacks from unions for firing more than 200 teachers, mostly over student performance.

Rhee gained national attention and her approaches, such as measuring teacher quality by students’ test scores and advocating merit pay, mirrored the changes pushed by the Obama administration’s $4.35 billion Race to the Top program and other initiatives.

Test scores have improved in the District’s elementary and secondary schools under Rhee, according to her department’s website.

A Washington Post poll found that while Democrats credited Fenty for bringing needed change to the District, many had doubts about his honesty and ability to understand their problems. Almost six in 10 black Democrats said Fenty cared most about higher-income residents, the poll found.

Racial Division

The survey, released Aug. 29, showed Democratic voters racially divided over their support of the two black mayoral candidates as well as over Rhee’s performance.

Sixty-eight percent of whites said Rhee was a reason to vote for Fenty. Fifty-four percent of blacks saw her as a reason to go with Gray. The poll surveyed 1,277 adults, and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Gray has said he wouldn’t make a decision about Rhee’s future until after the election.

To contact the reporters on this story: Catherine Dodge in Washington at cdodge1@bloomberg.net; Tom Moroney in Boston at tmorrone@bloomberg.net.

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