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Posted at 04:18 PM ET, 08/02/2010

Barry undecided in mayor's race

D.C. Council member Marion Barry (D-Ward 8) said Monday he hasn't decided whether, or when, he will endorse a candidate in the mayoral election between Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) and his lead opponent, Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray.

Given recent public statements and his frequent sparring with the Fenty administration, it appears doubtful that Barry would endorse the mayor.

Barry has generally been supportive of Gray on the council, but their relationship has been strained since the chairman pushed earlier this year to censure Barry following the controversy over his use earmarks.

For much of the spring, Barry's preferred candidate appeared to be businessman R. Donahue Pebbles. But despite urging from Barry, Pebbles decided to stay out of the race.

In a Washington Post story published Sunday, Barry sounded as if he's banking on a Gray victory. Barry told The Post that Gray better "be prepared" for an influx of demands because "the American way is to the victor goes the spoils."

"The unions are going to come. All the advocacy groups are going to come. I'm going to come," Barry said. "I have a self-interest in this race. We want major development east of the Anacostia River. People want jobs, training programs. And he's just going to have to be prepared for that."

At a news conference Monday to discuss the Office of Campaign Finance's ruling that he did not break any laws in giving then-girlfriend Donna Watts-Brighthaupt a $5,000-a-month contract in 2009, Barry said he planned to play an active role in this year's campaign. But he noted in 2006 he waited until two weeks before the election before he publicly announced his support for Fenty.

"I'm in no hurry," Barry said.

In the 2006 campaign, Fenty didn't exactly run around town heralding his last-minute endorsement from Barry. Although the mayor thanked Barry at the time for his support, the two did not campaign together.

Gray, already facing questions about whether he's too connected to the previous era of city government, could face a similar dilemma if Barry endorses him.

Still, when it comes to organizing minority voters east of the Anacostia River, most city politicians would still prefer to have Barry working for them then against them.

When the Washington Post asked Barry if he thought his endorsement still carries weight, the council member replied, "absolutely."

'Anyone who gets 94 percent in his ward and consistently won 10 out of 11 elections and is well-known for my service, can be effective," Barry said. "You know that."

--Tim Craig

By  |  04:18 PM ET, 08/02/2010

Categories:  Marion Barry, Marion Barry

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