In the D.C. mayor's race, Council Member Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4) scored a victory last night over rival Mayor Vincent Gray and the other opponents by winning the Ward 4 straw poll.
Inside the Paul public charter school on Eighth Street NW, hundreds of Ward 4 residents piled into the seats of the auditorium to hear the candidates offer up their vision for the city. Concerns about education and housing dominated most of the discussion.
Bowser, on her home turf, scored perhaps the biggest applause of the night, when she turned a question over D.C.'s growing budget surplus into an attack on Gray administration for the recent fire department fiascos and the homelessness crisis.
Gray in turn got the crowd on its feet when he turned directly to his Council member opponents on stage and forcefully asked them to support his budget for addressing the city's homelessness crisis.
The event was the second straw poll of the election season. Bowser, who represents Ward 4, came in first in last night's contest with 49 percent of the vote, but like the Ward 8 straw poll she also won two weeks ago, she fell short of winning the official endorsement of the Ward 4 Democrats. That required at least 60 percent of the vote.
The primary date for the mayor's race is fast approaching — it's on April 1 — and early voting begins in the third week of March.