D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray on Thursday took public aim at Ward 4 Councilwoman Muriel Bowser, the only person who has formally entered next year's mayoral race, in the clearest signal yet that Gray may seek a second term leading the city.
"It's the most preposterous thing I have ever heard," Gray said of the platform Bowser has outlined in her campaign's opening weeks. "I would invite her to go back and come up with something better."
When Bowser announced her run last month, she said she was seeking the city's top job because "corruption has robbed us of our focus, our momentum, our need to think big and act swiftly."
She also said the District needs a mayor with "energy."
Gray had remained largely silent about Bowser's candidacy, but he used a television interview to launch a rhetorical assault on Bowser's nascent bid for his job, especially her assertion that she'd bring more energy to the job.
"It's ridiculous. ... Who has more energy than me?" the 70-year-old mayor said on NewsChannel 8. "I work 16 hours every day."
Bowser told The Washington Examiner that she would keep her focus on issues, not verbal sparring matches.
"I can't comment on how other people intend to engage in a race. The voters will determine what's appropriate or not," Bowser said. "I don't intend to engage in personal attacks or patronizing remarks."
Gray, whose 2010 campaign is the subject of a federal investigation, declined to say whether he will seek another term, and he said Bowser's move would not affect his own timing.
"I have not made a decision," said Gray, who announced his last campaign only five months before the election. "She's on her timetable. I'm on mine."
Gray, however, sought to highlight his own record and that it is "more than defensible."
A person familiar with the mayor's political operation, who requested anonymity to discuss private deliberations, said that although Gray has not committed to a run, supporters had begun laying the groundwork for a campaign.
And the person said Gray's comments Thursday were tied less to a potential bid than they were linked to the mayor's frustration about what he believes are meritless criticisms.
Although Bowser is the only person who has announced a run, two other lawmakers -- Ward 2 Councilman Jack Evans and Ward 6 Councilman Tommy Wells -- have publicly discussed the possibility that they will also begin campaigns.
The Democratic primary is scheduled for April 2014.