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Former DC Mayor Who Dodged Corruption Charges Retakes Council Seat

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Steve Birr Vice Reporter
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Former D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray won the Democratic primary Tuesday for his old D.C. Council seat, demonstrating a comeback in District politics by defeating Mayor Muriel Bowser’s ally Yvette Alexander.

The win marks a political comeback for the 73-year-old Gray, whose one term as mayor was mired in campaign finance corruption scandal, derailing his ambitions for a second term in 2014 and lifting Bowser to the position. The victory was largely expected as Gray held a large lead over Alexander in polls leading up to the election, reports Fox 5.

Two other incumbent Bowser allies in the D.C. Council primaries also lost their races, despite a last minute get out the vote push from Bowser herself. LaRuby May lost her seat to Trayon White, and long-time Council member Vincent Orange lost the at-large Council seat to Robert White, adding to the fresh opposition Gray’s victory will bring Bowser in the Council. (RELATED: DC Marijuana Advocates Target Bowser Allies Running For Reelection)

Marijuana activists sent out last minute mailers last week to voters targeting Bowser allies who voted against a “pot clubs” bill that District voters largely supported. Activists were hopeful Tuesday’s election would shake up the Council and lead to a future vote to expand legalization.

Gray is very critical of Bowser’s progress as mayor, particularly when it comes to addressing the crime rate. Ward 7 is ravished by an unprecedented spike in violent crimes this year. Rattled residents in the ward are witnessing a tripling in the homicide rate compared to 2015, accounting for nearly half of all homicides in the District this year.

Gray’s win came despite lingering questions over his role in the 2010 mayoral campaign scandal, when an all-cash “shadow campaign” was found in violation of campaign finance law. Jeff Thompson, the man at the center of the fraud, used unreported campaign contributions to run a roughly $800,000 all-cash operation to get out the vote for Gray’s mayoral campaign. (RELATED: Corruption Scandal Hangs Over Former DC Mayor In Vicious Council Race)

Thompson claimed in court last year Gray knew all about the “shadow campaign,” actively budgeting out the best way to spend an alleged $425,000 in cash on his get out the vote effort. Thompson, who Gray admitted calling by his alias “Uncle Earl,” also claims he funneled $40,000 to a close friend of Gray’s for home improvements. Gray has maintained his innocence from the onset, saying Thompson is trying to smear him.

“I’m moving forward,” Gray told The Associated Press Tuesday. “Otherwise, it’ll eat you alive.”

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