Polls depict the District’s mayoral primary as a two-candidate race between Mayor Vincent Gray and D.C. Council Member Muriel Bowser.
Paramount to Tommy Wells, the candidate pegged for third, is the fact that both the telephone surveys conducted for the Washington Post and NBC4/Marist polls can’t capture his popularity online.
The progressive Ward 6 council member, prefers to point to the results of the final televised debate of the race. When WUSA9 asked people to text the name of the candidate they thought won the debate, Wells was victorious with 42 percent of the nearly 4,000 viewers that responded.
Wells also mentions an informal online poll conducted by the Washington Business Journal, which had him winning 44 percent of the 1,534 votes cast. When neighborhood blog Prince of Petworth asked its readers who they would be voting for, Wells won — twice.
“Whenever it’s online, I win, and that’s because my supporters are very much of the new generation of social technology and social media,” Wells told CQ Roll Call on the eve of the April 1 primary.
Also promising in Wells’ opinion is an influx of late-in-the-race endorsements that his campaign deemed “endorse-a-palooza.”
“I’m second only to the sitting mayor in endorsements,” Wells told Hill Blotter.
His coalition includes traditional allies, like the D.C. police, firefighters, and EMS unions, plus the National Organization for Women. Carrying a bill to decriminalize pot possession helped earn Wells the endorsement of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws and the Marijuana Policy Project. His vision for transit and affordable housing won him support from the smart growth advocates behind Greater, Greater Washington.
In the final 48 hours of the primary campaign, Wells also picked up some fresh endorsements from former supporters of Andy Shallal. As some progressives accepted the fact that the left-leaning owner of Busboys and Poets might be too much of a long shot, they threw their support behind Wells.
“Influence brokers” like former DC for Democracy President Keshini Ladduwahetty and activist Sam Jewler have pledged to use their online presence to sway followers to support Wells, he said.
While Bowser, Gray and other candidates were shaking hands and hosting get-out-the-vote rallies, Wells spent a few hours hanging out on Reddit. During an AMA (Ask Me Anything) session, Wells addressed something nagging many undecided D.C. voters.
The question: “Many view voting for Bowser [as] the only way Gray can be defeated. What do you say to those voters that WANT to vote for you, but feel they are ‘wasting their vote’ by doing so — since you are 3rd?”
Wells said polls haven’t really reflected many “key factors in this election,” especially his recent endorsements. “In addition, polls don’t reflect the enormous strength of my Ward 6 base — which has far more Democratic voters than any other ward largely due to the 80,000 new residents who’ve moved here over the last four years.”
More than 80,000 new Democrats have registered to vote in D.C. since the 2010 mayoral primary, according to a broad collection of data amassed by the Washington Post.
Gray has “boxed himself in by relying so heavily” on the support of Ward 8 Councilmember Marion Barry, a four-term mayor, Wells said. In effect, the mayor is “alienating many voters and making it impossible for him to increase his share of the vote.”
Wells said he’s confident months of calls and door-knocking have earned him the votes necessary to win. “We have the numbers; our job is now to get them to the polls.”
Polls close at 8 p.m. Check Hill Blotter for detailed results.