Friends, Supporters Celebrate Bowser's Birthday
Hundreds of supporters showed up, ostensibly to celebrate Muriel Bowser's 40th birthday on Thursday, August 2. But anybody familiar with the workings of D.C. politics would know that they're looking not at this event, but further down the road.
The party, hosted by Bowser supporters Daniel and Loretta Neumann Smith at their home in Northwest, attracted a formidable crowd who included D.C. Chairman Phil Mendelson (D), Council members Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3), Marion Barry (D-Ward 8) and Kenyan McDuffie (D-Ward 5) and other heavy hitters.
"Thank you for coming to my birthday party," Bowser told the crowd. "I am so pleased that 212 people served on the host committee for this event and I am happy that the people of Ward 4 have given me their overwhelming vote of confidence. On the council, I do hard work for the people of Ward 4 because I am Ward 4," she said, flashing her perennial smile.
Bowser is running for re-election in the upcoming November 6 general election but faces no opposition. However, to many who attended the birthday bash, it had far more to do with her future political aspirations than the upcoming fall elections. It's been rumored that Bowser's is seriously contemplating a run for mayor in 2014. She and two of her colleagues have called for Mayor Vincent C. Gray's resignation because he's been embroiled in scandals that have led to guilty pleas by two of his aides and a longtime friend and associate.
Whatever political success Bowser enjoys she owes to former Mayor Adrian Fenty, who served one term as mayor from 2007-2011. Fenty, however, didn't make an appearance at his protégé's party.
Gladys Mack, an advisory neighborhood commissioner for 6A07, said that she thinks that Bowser should run for mayor of the District in 2014, if not sooner.
"She is the best person for the position," said Mack, 53. "She is not tainted by scandal and she shines wherever she goes. Plus, she could win in Ward 6."
While guests nibbled on spring rolls and sipped cool drinks, private conversations ran the gamut from who will jump into the mayoral fray first in 2014 to Bowser's squeaky clean record.
Sondra Phillips-Gilbert, who hopes to replace Mack as the commissioner for 6A07 in November, said it's understood among Ward 6 residents that their council member, Tommy Wells, will run for mayor whenever the opportunity presents itself. Nonetheless, Phillips-Gilbert said that she believes Bowser would be a better candidate and a better mayor.
"We want a person who we know is with us," she said. "We want someone who will be honest, for real and do the right thing."
W. Philip Thomas, an advisory neighborhood commissioner who represents 3D05 in Northwest, said "we'll see when that times comes" in regard to Bowser's future political ambitions. "Right now, I am trying to get re-elected myself," said Thomas, 27.
Ward 4 political activist Joshua Lopez, an ardent supporter of both Fenty and Bowser, said that "2014 is a long way out."
"First of all, we have to make sure that she wins in November," said Lopez, 28, laughing. "She is the best council member at the [John A.] Wilson Building and we need to make sure that she gets back in there."
There's speculation in Ward 4 political circles that Lopez will run for the Ward 4 council seat when Bowser moves on, but Lopez chose not to comment.
Frank Wilds, a candidate for the Ward 5 seat on the D.C. Council after the resignation of Harry Thomas Jr., showed up to "support Muriel."
"I have had a long working relationship with her," said Wilds, 65. "We were ANCs representing parts of Kennedy Street together, with her being in Ward 4 and me being in Ward 5. We also worked together on some things in the Lamond-Riggs area."
Ward 7 political neophyte Kevin B. Chavous, who crashed and burned during his bid for the Ward 7 seat on the D.C. Council against incumbent Council member Yvette Alexander (D-Ward 7), claims to have ties to Bowser.
"I am a supporter of hers and I think she has done great work in Ward 4," said Chavous, 27. "She is about restoring integrity in government and yes, I have heard rumors about her running for mayor. But for now, I am here at this party to show my support for her."
A wide cross-section of the District's political, social and civic luminaries wished Bowser well on her special day.
Former D.C. City Administrator Michael Rogers and Claude E. Bailey, one of the District's most well-known attorneys, both said that they are represented by Bowser on the D.C. Council but declined to speculate on her political future.
"I think highly of her and I think she is doing a good job on the council," Rogers said.
Geneie Beverly, a business owner in Ward 7, said she admires Bowser and plans to support her "no matter what she does."
"She's not just for Ward 4 but for me too," said Beverly who lives in Southeast.