Marion Barry: An ego at work


Barry often finds it difficult to talk about anyone besides himself. (Melina Mara/TWP)

That is to say, Joynt is interested in talking to Barry about non-Barry personages, while Barry is interested in talking only about Barry.

”I don’t talk about the mayor, not in terms of his problems and his situation,” he said when asked about Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D).

”I haven’t seen him since the election. I’m not going to talk about him,” he said when asked about former mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D).

Asked about his “mayor-for-life” sobriquet, he said, “I earned it.”

And then there’s this thought on his legacy: “One thing about [me] on the city council is I have become the go-to person.

Note, as well, how Barry takes pains to associate himself with his fellow council members said to be seeking the mayoralty. Barry’s “talking to all of them,” he tells Joynt. “Anyone who has the trust I have in this city, the popularity in this city, has to be talked to. ... It’s smart politics.”

Of Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4), he said, “I’ve known her since she was 14.”

Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6), he said, “will you tell you he considered himself a mentee of mine.”

And Jack Evans (D-Ward 2)? “I am responsible for Jack Evans getting elected,” he said.

He ain’t lying about Evans.

During Evans’s first council campaign, in a 1991 special election to replace John A. Wilson, his main competition was the late Jim Zais, who had been Barry’s Ward 2 community liaison for seven years.

Behold these lines from the Washington Post story the day after Evans’s narrow victory: “Zais may have lost support among some voters because of his work for former mayor Marion Barry. ... ‘Frankly, I didn’t vote for Zais because he was in the Barry administration,’ said Virginia Brown, a lawyer, outside Precinct 14 in Dupont Circle.”

Mike DeBonis covers Congress and national politics for The Washington Post. He previously covered D.C. politics and government from 2007 to 2015.

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