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Vincent Gray and Muriel Bowser are in a dead heat atop the pack of Democrats running for D.C. mayor, according to the first public poll conducted since the “Uncle Earl” corruption allegations.
The phone poll, conducted March 13 to 16 by Public Policy Polling on behalf of Washington City Paper and WAMU’s Kojo Nnamdi Show, shows the current mayor and the Ward 4 councilmember both receiving 27 percent support among 860 likely Democratic primary voters.
Gray does not appear to have lost any momentum from the March 10 indictment of businessman Jeffrey E. Thompson, who admitted to pumping $668,000 into the mayor’s 2010 campaign and alleged that he met with Gray personally to talk about the scheme.
With early voting already underway and the April 1 Democratic primary fast approaching, Gray has remained steadfast in his denial of the accusations. He has not been charged with any wrongdoing in the ongoing probe and maintains that he will stay in office if federal prosecutors come after him directly.
“My attorney is not involved in any negotiations or discussions with the . . . U.S Attorney’s office at this point,” Gray said Wednesday during a live interview with WJLA’s Bruce DePuyt.
Gray confirmed he will “absolutely” stay at the helm of the nation’s capital if he is indicted by U.S. Attorney Ron Machen Jr. in coming months. “I’m not going to walk away from this, uh, you know this situation.”
In the poll, voters were asked a version of the question Gray put to voters during his State of the District address: Who do you believe — Gray or Thompson?
The answer was split along racial lines, with 69 percent of white voters saying they believed Thompson. Among black voters, a plurality — 35 percent — trust Gray’s account of the shadow campaign.
The six other Democratic candidates — half of whom are members of the D.C. Council — divide the remaining 46 percent of the vote. Jack Evans is the only other candidate with double-digit support in the poll, registering 13 percent. Another 9 percent said they supported Tommy Wells, while Andy Shallal sits at 7 percent. Vincent Orange registered 2 percent, while Reta Jo Lewis and Carlos Allen both had nominal support.
The poll also revealed that 14 percent of voters are still undecided.
Registered Democrats who are still trying to get a sense of where the candidates stand on key issues have a few more opportunities in the final days leading up to the April 1 primary that will decide who faces Independent candidate David Catania in the November general election.
Capitol Hill voters can visit H Street’s Smith Commons at 6 p.m. Monday for the Ward 6 Democrats pre-primary meet and greet.
On Wednesday, WUSA9’s Bruce Johnson will moderate a live TV debate starting at 7 p.m.
Voters can question the candidates directly Thursday night at Sixth & I Historic Synagogue as part of a debate co-hosted by the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington.
The 2010 Gray-Fenty debate held at Sixth & I was one of the best attended forums of that election season.