In this Sept. 15, 2014 file photo, then-Washington Mayor Vincent Gray arrives on Capitol Hill in Washington. Federal prosecutors have ended their investigation of Gray after nearly five years. The long-running probe exposed an illegal slush fund that helped Gray get elected in 2010. Six people who were involved in the campaign have pleaded guilty to felonies. But prosecutors were never able to establish that Gray committed a crime or knowingly conspired with his advisers.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

Former D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray was recently released from charges involving a 2010 campaign finance scandal. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

Former D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray, fresh from a recent legal victory, hasn’t revealed to anyone what he will do politically next year. “We’ll see, won’t we,” Gray told the AFRO when asked whether he will seek political office in 2016.

On Dec. 9, U.S. Attorney Channing D. Phillips released a statement saying his office will not charge Gray with any crime regarding the 2010 mayoral campaign finance scandal. Gray released his statement later that day. “My life’s work has been dedicated to uplifting people,” the former mayor said. “The announcement from the U.S. Attorney ends a lengthy investigation. I look forward to getting on with the next chapter of my life, which no doubt be dedicated to service.”

Many political observers believe Gray lost the April 1, 2014, Democratic mayoral primary to then D.C. Council member Muriel Bowser on the strength of the March 10 announcement by then U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen of businessman and political fundraiser Jeffrey E. Thompson’s guilty plea to illegally giving more than $2 million to Gray’s 2010 campaign.

March 10, 2014, is known colloquially as “Machen Monday” and Chuck Thies, Gray’s campaign manager, said what the U.S. Attorney did that day made the difference in the primary. “Every public and our internal polls had us winning until ‘Machen Monday’,” Thies said Dec. 10 on NewsChannel 8’s {NewsTalk with Bruce Depuyt} show.  He said that his former boss “has absolutely made no decision on his political future” but that voters should think of Gray in positive terms.

“Vincent Gray was a fine legislator and an extraordinary leader in the city,” Thies said.

Douglas Sloan, an advisory neighborhood commissioner for Ward 4 and a political analyst, said District residents weren’t happy with how the investigation was handled. “A lot of residents were saying that it doesn’t take four and a half years to bring charges,” Sloan said. “We haven’t seen many revelations since ‘Machen Monday.’ Many residents weren’t surprised that the mayor wasn’t charged because there was no there there.”

Longtime Ward 4 political activist Ethel Delaney Lee, a Bowser enthusiast who supported Gray for re-election, had strong words for Machen.

“I think Machen had a subliminal hatred for Vince Gray and what he did prevented Gray from being re-elected,” Lee said. “Machen left office earlier this year because he didn’t have enough evidence to indict Gray. I think to destroy a man’s career and standing in the community is criminal.”

Even before Phillips made his announcement, there had been widespread speculation in political circles about Gray running for a D.C. Council position next year. Gray could seek re-election to the Ward 7 seat that he won in 2004, run for the Democratic at-large seat held by D.C. Council member Vincent Orange or, in a less likely scenario, leave the Democratic Party and run against D.C. Council member David Grosso (I-At Large) in the November 2016 general election.

Sloan is confident that Gray will run again in 2016 and has advice on which council seat he should pursue. “It should either be in Ward 7 or the Democratic at-large ,” he said. “He would be better off running in Ward 7 because he has a strong base in the ward and he won’t have to raise as much money. Besides, Vincent Orange is a scrappy campaigner and has proven to be a competent council member.”

Lee said that Gray should run for any position that he wants, but bemoans that the former mayor may have to unseat a sitting council member. “I like the way Vincent Orange presents himself on the council and it would be a shame if he were to lose,” she said. “I think Yvette Alexander has done a good job too and I would hate to see her go.”

Alexander has indicated she will run for re-election and she has already drawn an opponent, Ed Potillo, the chairman of the Ward 7 Democrats and the vice chairman of the D.C. Democratic State Committee.

Potillo said he hasn’t given a possible Gray candidacy in the ward a lot of thought. “I am focused and committed to the ward,” Potillo said. “Any candidate that runs will have to articulate their plan and vision for the ward and be committed to the ward.”

Petitions for the June 14, 2016 Democratic Party primary are available on Jan. 22 and must be turned into the D.C. Board of Elections office by March 16 at 5 p.m.