Former D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray has moved on from the now-closed investigation into an alleged shadow campaign that derailed his re-election campaign in 2014.
And, in addition to distancing himself from the scandal, Gray appears to be headed back into District government as a brand-new poll shows he holds a commanding lead in the Ward 7 council race.
Currently, 52 percent of respondents to the poll said they will vote for Gray, while the incumbent Yvette Alexander grabbed 23 percent.
Grant Thompson pulled in support from 4 percent of those queried for the poll while Delmar Chesley came in at 2 percent. Also, 20 percent said they remain undecided.
In all, Public Policy Polling surveyed 500 Ward 7 voters earlier this month and found that Gray had a favorability rating of 61 percent to Alexander’s 37 percent.
The poll was commissioned by Gray’s campaign.
It’s the second poll this year commissioned by the former mayor, and it’s reminiscent of a January survey that showed Gray leading in both potential Ward 7 and at-large council contests.
According to that poll, which surveyed 1,569 likely voters District-wide, Gray led at-large incumbent Vincent Orange 32 percent to 20 percent. David Garber and Robert White, who also were included in the poll, received 10 percent and 6 percent respectively.
Further, the January poll revealed that Gray led Alexander by 48 percent to 32 percent. Also, Ed Potillo garnered support from 6 percent of respondents, while 14 percent said they were undecided.
The ex-mayor’s popularity with voters seems to have leaped in the newer poll.
“This poll was conducted during The Washington Post’s latest smear campaign against Vince,” Gray’s spokesman, Chuck Thies, said. “It is clear The Washington Post’s view is being rejected by voters in Ward 7,” he said.
On Friday, April 15, hundreds of pages of previously sealed court documents were released regarding the alleged shadow campaign.
The newspaper had pushed hard for the release of the documents that include affidavits in support of search warrants that allowed federal investigators to collect bank and business records from companies that paid for the shadow campaign, cellphone GPS data and email communications.
Gray eventually was cleared of any wrongdoing, but the probe effectively cost him a return to the mayor’s office.
However, the former mayor said that while he can’t forget what happened, he isn’t bitter.
“Since the outset of this matter I have stated unequivocally that I did not participate in any wrongdoing. The U.S. Attorney ended its investigation in December 2015. My eyes are on the future,” Gray said.
His campaign manager pointed to Gray’s campaign kickoff speech when Gray said he was putting the matter in his rearview mirror.
“I have moved on, but I will not forget. We cannot tolerate injustice,” Gray said. “Sadly, we see far too much of it in our country. Injustice ruins lives, and sometimes it ends them.”
The new poll also revealed that Gray’s 61 percent approval rating is seven points higher than that of D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, who is viewed favorably by 54 percent of residents, while 43 percent approve of her job as mayor and 32 percent disapprove.
The poll was conducted on in Ward 7 on April 12 and April 13.
The District’s Democratic Primary is scheduled for June 14.
“Know this to be true,” Gray said. “I have never turned away when I saw injustice. You can count on me to be at the front of the march, on the steps of the Capitol and here in our neighborhoods fighting injustice and seeking its end.”