BLACK IVIES IN TROUBLE

Sam Smith

Interesting mayoral race is brewing in DC, where black Ivy Adrian Fenty, running for reelection, is clearly in trouble. Fenty is one of a new class of black politicians – well educated and superficially attractive — but who were raised to think of themselves as God’s gift to diversity and never went through those hard patches that make a truly good politician.

Three of the current black Ivies – Fenty, Obama and Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick – quickly lost their political sheen, although Newark mayor Cory Booker seems to be hanging in there, and might even be a strong candidate for governor.

The DC races is particularly interesting because the city is still majority black – although becoming more white by the day. Fenty won every precinct in the city but started slipping almost from the start. In January, the Washington Post reported that Fenty’s support among black voters has dropped from 68% to 29% and among whites from 78% to 57%.

Definitely running against Fenty will be Vincent Gray, the city council chair, a far more socially conscious politician and also far more liked. Gray is the sort of pol you don’t even get that mad at even when he’s wrong, whereas Fenty could be dead right and still piss you off.

Adding to the excitement is another possibility described by Washington City Paper’s Loose Lips: “The contest could get considerably more competitive and unpredictable in the coming days: Millionaire developer R. Donahue Peebles said that he is ‘planning to run’ as well, backing off earlier statements that family issues would keep him out of the race.'”

At this point Gray seems clearly the best, but he’s also the one with far the least money. Stay tuned for a race that uniquely features three quite different styles of blackness.

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