Politics & Government

Sacramento's mayor campaigning hard for D.C.'s Fenty

Some might think it odd that the mayor of Sacramento would spend time campaigning for the mayor of a city 2,700 miles away.

Ah, but Kevin Johnson is in love.

And that's why he's done so much lately trying to get Washington, D.C., Mayor Adrian Fenty re-elected. You see, Fenty is the boss of one Michelle Rhee, the head of the Washington public schools who is betrothed to one Kevin Johnson.

Entering Tuesday's mayoral Democratic primary, Fenty is behind in the polls to his challenger, Vincent Gray. Should Fenty lose, it is widely expected that Rhee will lose her job, because the mayor of Washington has control of the schools and, therefore, gets to hire and fire the schools chancellor.

As a result, Johnson doesn't hide his motivation behind stumping for Fenty.

"My fiancée lives in D.C. and I've got to make sure she stays employed," Johnson said with a smile Wednesday. "If (Fenty) doesn't get re-elected, she won't be employed. I have a self-interest at stake here."

Johnson wants to make it clear that he flies to Washington on his own dime and has not missed any city business as a result of his trips. He heads to our nation's capital once a month anyway to visit Rhee.

He's been spotted at least twice in the past several weeks campaigning for Fenty.

In July, Johnson was at a mayoral forum in Washington, posing for photographs with Fenty and his supporters. More recently, Johnson stumped for Fenty over the Labor Day weekend outside a community center.

Johnson says his work for Fenty isn't entirely about his bride-to-be's job security.

When Johnson ran for mayor in 2008, he sought advice from Fenty, who told him that in order to win as a political newbie he had to "knock on every single door." And as Johnson's campaign moved along, Fenty sent a couple of his own campaign workers to Sacramento.

With that in mind, helping Fenty is "the very least I can do when I'm visiting my significant person (Rhee)," Johnson said.

As for what the future holds for Rhee regardless of the outcome of next week's election, the chancellor has scoffed at suggestions that she would up and move to Sacramento once she and Johnson are wed.

"It's totally sexist," she told the popular Washington blog, DCist.

"Let me just tell you this – not a single person in Sacramento has implied that because Kevin and I are getting married that he's going to be moving to D.C. Not a single person. And it [ticks] me off to no end that people assume that I'm going to be the one to move, or that of course I would have to move."