A major upset in our nation's capitol. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty lost the Democratic mayoral primary to D.C. Council Chairman Vincent Gray. Voters overwhelmingly rejected Fenty's often combative style and Gray won with 53 percent of the vote to Fenty's 46 percent.
"Tuesday's vote marked only the third time in District history that D.C. residents have ousted a sitting mayor," adds the Washington Post. "Gray even beat Fenty in his home precinct in Crestwood with 56 percent of the vote."
Fenty and Gray both have outstanding records on LGBT rights but a number of the District's more vocal LGBT activists have criticized Fenty's aloof and abrasive style. Kevin Naff at the Washington Blade writes an excellent post-mortem on the Fenty Administration.
Fenty didn’t understand the importance of serving as the face of the city. Two examples of his absenteeism really struck me. The first came two years ago at the national conference of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, a major gathering of hundreds of LGBT elected officials from around the country. It’s an empowering and high-profile annual conference that I’ve attended several times. In Las Vegas and Houston, the mayors of those large cities showed up to welcome the Victory Fund and all the LGBT elected officials that include mayors, members of Congress and others. When the conference came to D.C., Fenty was a no-show, sending his GLBT Affairs director Chris Dyer to welcome visitors in his place.
It wasn’t a deliberate snub; Fenty just didn’t understand the importance of the personal touch. His tone-deafness emerged again and again around the issue of anti-LGBT hate crimes in the city. We’ve covered numerous cases of gay men and trans women who were beaten up or killed because of their sexual orientation or gender identity in the past four years. But getting Fenty to respond proved an impossible task. When asked to address the community, he would dispatch Dyer instead, who insisted that the overall number of hate crimes had dropped during Fenty’s tenure.
That may be true, but impressions count. When the community feels under attack — even if the statistics don’t support the sentiment — it means people aren’t patronizing gay businesses and they feel unsafe walking in their neighborhoods. Sometimes residents need to hear directly from their mayor, even if just for a feel-good pep talk and pledge of support. His stubborn refusal to address hate crimes turned many former supporters against Fenty and into the arms of Gray. And like many prominent gay activists who once worked for Fenty, other constituencies began abandoning the mayor over the summer months.
The Washington Post also analyzes the Fenty defeat, describing a mayor "who ignored advisers' early warnings that key constituencies were abandoning him, who shut out confidantes who told him what he did not want to hear and who began to listen only when the race was all but lost."