Politics

Could Adrian Fenty become the Republican nominee for D.C. mayor?

With the Democratic primary fast approaching, polls show incumbent D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty trailing D.C. Council Chairman Vincent Gray, but what some are wondering is whether Fenty would consider challenging Gray as a Republican should he lose Tuesday’s primary?

In a survey of likely voters, a Clarus Research Group poll shows Gray attracting 45 percent support compared to Fenty’s 38 percent, with 14 percent undecided and 3 percent backing other candidates.

As of now, the winner of the Democratic primary will almost certainly become the next mayor of D.C., especially since there is currently no Republican running.

Of the two candidates, Republicans observing the Democratic primary largely view Fenty more favorably, most notably for his appointment of Michelle Rhee — a champion of school reform — as chancellor of the D.C. public school system. Republican council candidate David Hedgepeth has even endorsed the mayor. Conversely, Vincent Gray has come under fire by Republicans who have demanded an investigation into his campaign advertisements and finances.

Without a GOP candidate currently in the race and with Fenty trailing Gray in the Democratic primary, some are speculating about the possibility that Republicans, in their primary, could write-in Fenty, thereby making him the Republican nominee and able to face Gray in the general election.

Such a scenario is legally possible, according to Alysoun McLaughlin, the public affairs manager for the D.C. Board of Elections.

“There is no requirement to file with our office prior to an election,” McLaughlin wrote in an email to The Daily Caller.  “Also, while a candidate must be registered with a political party in order to be listed on the ballot, there is nothing to prevent a candidate from switching parties after an election in order to claim a nomination won as a write-in.”

D.C. Republican Committee executive director Paul Craney told TheDC that while Republicans liked Fenty’s appointment of Rhee, they were not taking a position on the Democratic primary, nor were they prepared to say whether they would support Fenty if he sought to challenge Gray as a Republican. “There are still too many ‘what ifs,’” Craney said.

Fenty’s campaign did not return requests for comment.

E-mail Caroline May and follow her on Twitter