Winning the Democratic primary is seen as tantamount to taking the
general election in the heavily Democratic city. Turnout in
Tuesday's election was low at 23 percent.
Gray conceded defeat around midnight EDT (0400 GMT). Final results
had Bowser with 44 percent of the vote to Gray's 32 percent. Six
candidates split the other votes.
"God bless you, and let's go to work," Bowser, a city council member
for the past seven years, told cheering supporters.
In the November election, Bowser will face David Catania, an openly
gay independent member of the city council who is seen as the
strongest challenger. Catania is a former Republican who has backed
progressive issues since leaving the party in 2004.
A Washington Post poll last week indicated Bowser would defeat
Catania by 30 percentage points in a general election.
Polls had initially shown Bowser, who helped manage Adrian Fenty's
successful 2006 mayoral campaign, in a tight race with Gray, who
presided over an economic boom and surging population in the U.S.
Gray's re-election campaign was dogged by questions stemming from
the financing of his 2010 primary victory over Fenty. Three of his
former officials have pleaded guilty to federal campaign financing
Gray, 71, had seen his lead over Bowser vanish since Washington
businessman Jeffrey Thompson, a former government contractor,
pleaded guilty three weeks ago to violating campaign finance laws.
Federal prosecutors had accused Thompson of aiding Gray through a
"shadow campaign" that funneled more than $660,000 through friends
and relatives to Gray's 2010 election effort.
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Gray, the former head of the city's Human Services Department, has
denied any wrongdoing.
Voters said on Tuesday the allegations swirling around Gray were a
major factor in the election.
"I hope the outcome will be more honest. And I hope we'll move
toward a city where the best people can be elected," said voter
Barry Winer, 47.
Bowser, 41, tapped into voters' suspicions about Gray and called for
a fresh start. She had worked for the suburban Montgomery County
government and was elected to the council in 2007.
Bowser has called for reducing regulations on businesses and
improving schools but has also stressed she will be a trustworthy
mayor. Her main legislative accomplishment was the creation of an
The fundraising probe is part of a long line of District of Columbia
scandals that include the 2008 conviction of a tax official for
embezzling almost $50 million and Mayor Marion Barry's drug
conviction in 1990.
Among other races, District of Columbia Council Chairman Phil
Mendelson had 81 percent of the vote to 18 percent for challenger
(Editing by Paul Tait)
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