District Mayor Anthony A. Williams, undecided about a third term and under pressure from potential challengers, swung back with a vengeance yesterday and likened his foes to schoolyard bullies.
The pugnacious Williams (D), the bow-tied former numbers cruncher, went down the list of his would-be challengers, questioning the qualifications of some, mocking the missteps of others.
Williams says he doesn't know whether he'll run again.
"Lord knows I need a walk-in closet, I've got so many skeletons," Williams said at his weekly news briefing. "But if you're going to beat me up about my baggage, let's talk about you."
Williams said he has not decided whether to seek another term, although he said he is getting closer to deciding. He revealed that while his wife is against his running again, his mother is pushing him in the opposite direction.
But more important for those trying to divine the intentions of the city's introvert-in-chief, the mayor showed something yesterday that both his detractors and supporters have said is too often lacking: passion.
Williams said if there is one thing pushing him toward running, it is the prospect of going out and defending his record to "the real people" in the city.
"Good politician, bad politician, something in your blood wants to just stand up and defend yourself," he said, analyzing his own remarks. "Like in school, when someone is beating up on you, after a while you have to go out in the parking lot and take care of business."
At the top of his list was D.C. Council member Adrian M. Fenty (D-Ward 4), whom he pointedly left off a list of council members he believes are qualified to be mayor. Fenty, 34, recently was elected to a second term
"There ought to be some threshold qualifications that you bring to the table," Williams said. "Look at those councilmen who are bringing those threshold qualifications to the table: Jack, the council chairman and Vince" -- that is, Jack Evans (D-Ward 2), Linda W. Cropp (D) and Vincent B. Orange Sr. (D-Ward 5).
He also referred to a 2002 flap in which Fenty's legal representation of an elderly client was referred to the investigative arm of the D.C. bar. "If you're going to be beating up on me about running the city and you can't run that probate issue, that ought to be part of the record," Williams said.
Moving on, Williams took a swipe at Michael A. Brown, a lobbyist and another potential candidate.
"You're beating up on me, saying I'm not running this or not running that, and you can't manage a suite at the MCI Center?" Williams asked.
A default judgment was entered against Brown and a partnership group last year for nearly $636,000 in payments on a leased luxury suite at MCI Center, according to D.C. Superior Court records. Last month, the court's civil division ordered Brown's employer to collect the debt by withholding part of his salary.
Williams then turned to the potential candidacy of A. Scott Bolden. The mayor suggested that Bolden did an underwhelming job as chairman of the D.C. Democratic State Committee.