(USA TODAY) -- Muriel Bowser defeated embattled Washington Mayor Vincent Gray for the Democratic nomination in the nation's capital, as primary voters opted Tuesday for a new beginning after the incumbent's scandal-plagued term.
Bowser, a City Council member for the last seven years, emerged in recent weeks in the eight-person field as the main alternative to Gray, whose tenure has been overshadowed by a federal investigation into the financing of his 2010 campaign.
She was declared the Democratic primary winner by the Associated Press, based on unofficial returns early Wednesday.
The District of Columbia's voters "said with a resounding voice they want a fresh start," Bowser proclaimed at her victory party, shortly after Gray's concession remarks. "I will run a campaign of integrity, and vision, and energy and inclusion. I promise that the values of our campaign will reflect the collective values of those of us in all eight wards."
Bowser will face David Catania, a member of the City Council and an independent, in November. The Democratic nominee has gone on to win the mayor's race in the general election since the District of Columbia's mayor was first popularly elected in the 1970s. But Catania is considered a formidable challenger and the race could be competitive.
In his remarks, Gray vowed to continue the work on economic development, education, housing and human services that he first set out to do in his hometown.
"I think the amount of work we've done ... has been nothing short of phenomenal," Gray said to his supporters. "We've got nine more months. We've got a long time."
Federal prosecutors allege Gray knew that businessman Jeffrey Thompson funneled more than $668,000 to secretly help Gray's 2010 campaign. Thompson pleaded guilty last month to funding several shadow political campaigns, including Hillary Rodham Clinton's 2008 presidential bid.
So far, five people tied to Gray's 2010 campaign have pleaded guilty in the federal investigation. Gray, who has not been charged, has denied any wrongdoing.
In his campaign, Gray touted his experience and ability to staunch unemployment and improve the city's economy. His experience was recently touted by former Washington mayor Marion Barry, a popular politician despite his own legal run-ins.
Bowser was the least experienced of the four City Council candidates taking on Gray. She has talked about her plans to reduce regulations on businesses and improve the city's schools but also stressed she would be a "trustworthy mayor."