Muriel Bowser and Mayor Vincent Gray narrowly missed each other at Precinct 65 in Ward 4 this morning.
It's been months of campaigning and canvassing, and this morning the two front-running mayoral candidates narrowly missed each other at a polling place in one of the city's most contested wards.
Precinct 65 is located at LaSalle Elementary School on Riggs Road NE in Ward 4, a block shy of the Maryland border. As supporters of both Muriel Bowser and Mayor Vincent Gray traded chants — "A Fresh Start!" from Bowser's camp, "Four More Years!" from Gray's — both candidates appeared to press the flesh and rally the troops, though minutes apart.
Bowser appeared shortly after the polls opened at 7 a.m. to cast her ballot. After departing, Gray arrived, spending time with volunteers. Both sounded confident in their chances.
"We're pretty confident that the residents want a fresh start in the mayor's office and will come out and vote," said Bowser. "Of course I expect to win," said Gray.
The visit to Precinct 65 was strategic: Ward 4 is rich in voters and regularly sees high turnout. While Bowser has won the precinct in her three ward races, in 2010 Gray defeated then-mayor Adrian Fenty in the precinct and in the ward at large, assuring his victory.
And while both candidates pledged to visit polling places in all wards during the day, their official schedules showed where they're focusing their efforts. Bowser is spending most of the afternoon in wards 3 and 4, while Gray will stay east of the Anacostia River, with visibility events at the Anacostia and Benning Road Metro stations during the afternoon rush.
"We're focused on all eight wards, but obviously we have a higher concentration of supporters in certain wards and certain precincts," said Stephen Glaude, the political director for Gray's campaign.
According to recent polls, Bowser and Gray are in a statistical dead heat, so voter turnout will be key. More wavering voters say they're willing to side with Bowser, but Gray has a stronger base.
Polls remain open until 8 p.m.