D.C. Mayor Fenty Faces Racial Divide In Race For Re-Election

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D.C.’s Mayor Fenty is commonly thought of as part of a “new generation” of Black politicians that includes men like Newark, N.J. Mayor Cory Booker, former Tenn. congressman and N.Y. Senate hopeful Harold Ford, Jr., and President Barack Obama. What they all have in common is that they’ve found acceptance among a broad base of constituents rather than just within the Black community, like the Jesse Jacksons and Al Sharptons that came before them. However, as Fenty’s standing among Black D.C. residents declines (see Washington Post story below), and President Obama begins coming under fire from Black leaders for not having a “Black agenda,” one begins to wonder: For this next generation of Black politicians, does all their “mainstream” acceptance inevitably come at the cost of Black voters’ faith and trust? Time will tell. – NewsOne Staff

From the Washington Post:

Mayor Adrian M. Fenty was racing through the District’s Southeast neighborhoods, shoveling sidewalks for seniors in Fairlawn, whacking tennis balls with youngsters in Hillcrest and posing for photos with teenage boxers at a recreation center in Bellevue.

Four years ago, these predominantly African American communities embraced the young, energetic street-level campaigner, giving Fenty strong majorities to help him win in all wards and across the city’s demographic groups. But the smiles and handshakes at his public appearances last month belie the mayor’s vulnerability, particularly among blacks, as he seeks reelection in the fall.

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Interviews with residents and former city officials and a recent Washington Post poll show that Fenty has been traipsing through hostile territory. While the mayor’s approval rating has dropped throughout the city, nowhere are his numbers more troubling than in predominantly black wards 7 and 8.

The divide between how whites and blacks view Fenty has much to do with the gap between expectation and experience, and the view among many African Americans that the mayor is insensitive to their needs and more aligned with the wave of gentrifiers who are diluting the District’s longstanding black majority.

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