The Rev. Willie F. Wilson, the influential pastor of Union Temple Baptist Church, yesterday endorsed D.C. Council member Sandy Allen over his longtime friend, former mayor Marion Barry.
Barry, a member of Wilson's church, said he felt a "sense of betrayal" and called Wilson's endorsement hypocritical. Barry said Wilson had complained about Allen's lack of leadership, particularly when D.C. General Hospital was closed, despite the minister's "strong, heroic efforts" to keep it open.
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"I am deeply perplexed and disturbed with Rev. Wilson's endorsing Sandy Allen," Barry said in a statement released yesterday by his campaign. "Even though I love him, I feel a sense of betrayal. . . . I think his endorsement of Sandy Allen is hypocritical since he has been so critical and so dissatisfied with her performance on the City Council."
Wilson would not respond to Barry's criticism.
"I'm not going to go back and forth with him," Wilson said. "He said what he said. People know what I stand for, and we'll leave it at that."
Earlier yesterday, Wilson declined to explain why he was no longer supporting Barry. Wilson was Barry's spiritual adviser when Barry won reelection to an unprecedented fourth term as mayor after serving a six-month jail sentence on a misdemeanor drug possession charge.
"This is about Sandy Allen," Wilson said, adding that Barry remains "a dear friend."
At Allen Chapel AME Church, Wilson read a list of 20 ministers supporting Allen, representing 16 churches in Ward 8. He said the religious leaders would donate "manpower and money" to help Allen win reelection over the popular former mayor. The Rev. George Stallings of Imani Temple, which is on Capitol Hill, was also listed.
Wilson said he hoped the churches would bus more than 2,000 voters to the polls during the primary election Sept. 14. He also gave a personal check for $250 to Allen's campaign, saying: "I brought my check to put my money behind my mouth."
"It's one thing to make an endorsement," Wilson said. "It's another to back it up."
Allen was the only council member to support Wilson's write-in campaign for mayor in 2002. She also gave him a low-numbered license plate after Mayor Anthony A. Williams's administration requested that Wilson return the number 16 tag Barry had given him.
Wilson said Allen, who chairs a council committee with oversight of the Department of Human Services, should be reelected because of her concern, commitment, consistency and courage.
Wilson said the Williams administration had offered to provide $3 million for a Ward 8 summer jobs program in return for Allen's vote in favor of the mayor's controversial plan to reform the school system, and he praised Allen for turning it down.
Wilson's announcement drew only seven ministers, but three of the pastors sent letters lavishing praise on Allen for her leadership in the ward for the past 7 1/2 years.
The other candidates challenging Allen are William Lockridge, Jacque Patterson, R. Joyce Scott, Sandra Seegars and Frank Sewell.