Some voters said they backed her over other Gray challengers primarily because they felt she stood the best chance of defeating him.
"It's too much. We've gone through scandals before in D.C., and we don't need any more," said Rufus Okunubi, 68, a cab driver who backed Gray in 2010, but voted for Bowser this time.
The Democratic primary winner has gone on to win every mayoral election in the district, where 75 percent of registered voters are Democrats. But Bowser will face a credible challenger this November: independent D.C. Councilmember David Catania, 46, a former Republican who has championed progressive causes since leaving the party in 2004.
In the days leading up to the primary, Gray focused his campaign on the poor, majority-black sections of the city where he defeated Fenty by huge margins, hoping that his seven challengers would split the vote. He picked up an endorsement from the most successful — and divisive — politician in the city's history, former Mayor Marion Barry, who drew criticism when he said black voters were more open-minded than whites.
Gray and Bowser are both black. The district has never elected a white mayor in 40 years of self-rule. Catania is white, as were two of Gray's other challengers.