The race is on and Democratic DC councilmember Muriel Bowser is in.
On the steps of her childhood home in the North Michigan park neighborhood of Northeast, DC this morning, Bowser formally announced her intention to run for the next mayor of DC in 2014.
“I announce that I will run to be the next mayor of the District of Columbia,” she said with her family behind her on the steps of the home where her parents still reside.
The announcement today marks the first official entrant into the DC mayor race with so-far an undefined field. Councilmembers Tommy Wells and Jack Evans are both expected to run but neither has formally announced and DC Mayor Vincent Gray has yet to say if he’ll seek reelection for his seat.
But if her first speech as a mayoral candidate is any indication, Bowser is already preparing to run against Gray, and seems poised for a fight -- telling the audience that she will be the mayor to make “us proud again,” a not-so-subtle dig at the ongoing federal investigation against Mayor Gray.
“Corruption has robbed of us our focus, our momentum, our need to think big and act swiftly,” Bowser told the crowd of supporters gathered, “ “You said you wanted a change – a mayor not seduced by the perks of office or the power that comes with it, but humbled by the opportunity to lead.”
Bowser, a fifth generation Washingtonian, will still have an uphill climb no matter who she runs against. A Washington Post poll conducted last summer found that over two-thirds of Washingtonians had no opinion of her.
Today, that same sentiment was still not hard to find around the District.
“I don’t know that much about Ms. Bowser to be honest,” Jonathan Collins of DC said, “If Mayor Gray ends up running again I think she has to do a better job of getting out there, getting into the community but I think he has a good chance, it’s anybody’s race.”
Bowser, 40, has served on the council since 2007 representing Ward 4 when she won the special election to replace Adrian Fenty when he was elected mayor.
Today she dubbed herself a potential future mayor “raised in the grassroots DC activism” and pointed to achievements in education, neighborhood development, ethics reform, and rights for LGBT citizen during her nearly six years on the Council.
“It won’t be easy,” she told the crowd of the year-long battle for the Democratic primary ahead, “but we need a change.”