The D.C. Latino Caucus is going to bat for mayoral contender Vincent Gray.

In providing its landslide endorsement earlier this month, the Caucus, which serves as the official voice for Latinos in the District’s Democratic State Committee, voted 37 to 1 in favor of the current City Council chairman. The vote came in stark opposition to Mayor Adrian Fenty, who is Gray’s lead contender in the Sept. 14 primary.

About 100 people attended the Caucus’ July 24 mayoral forum, and 36 participated on-line to hear the mayoral candidates’ plan for Latinos in Washington, D.C., according to organizers. But, at least one major candidate was missing. “The big absent was Mayor Adrian Fenty. It is upsetting to us that we had changed the date of the forum from July 17 to July 24 to accommodate the mayor, because we knew members of the community wanted to hear from ,” said Chairman Franklin Garcia in the organization’s statement in support of Gray. “His campaign confirmed his participation in the forum not surprisingly, the campaign office to play a game to excuse the mayor’s constant neglect of the Latino community.”

Garcia added that wasn’t the first time Fenty had backed out of attending one of the Caucus’ functions.He said that of the several attempts to get him to come out, Fenty only showed up twice. “The first time was to attend the 2006 DC Latino mayoral forum as candidate for mayor; the second time was to collect a check for $2,000 we gave him when we endorsed him,” Garcia said. “Also in 2006, shortly after mayoral forum. After that, regardless of the reason, our calls have been denied or ignored.”

With its support now clearly thrown over into the Gray camp, Garcia said the Caucus looks forward to working with a united community and a loud voice that sends the message to Fenty, “that as a community we deserve as much respect as any other community in this city.”