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Cropp Draws Big Names, Big Spenders

One candidate for the D.C. mayor's office was conspicuously absent from last week's Disability Community Mayoral Forum. Council member Adrian M. Fenty, chairman of the District's human services committee, failed to show.
One candidate for the D.C. mayor's office was conspicuously absent from last week's Disability Community Mayoral Forum. Council member Adrian M. Fenty, chairman of the District's human services committee, failed to show. (By Lois Raimondo -- The Washington Post)

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By Lori Montgomery and Karlyn Barker
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, June 22, 2006

More than $4.5 million has already flooded the campaign accounts of the five leading Democratic mayoral candidates, making the 2006 mayor's race the most expensive in D.C. history. And with nearly three months left until the Sept. 12 primary, the battle of the billfolds is nowhere near over.

On Monday, the slugfest continued as second-place fundraiser Linda W. Cropp ($1.75 million) held a bash studded with boldface names at swanky Cafe Milano in Georgetown. Her campaign chairman, lawyer Max Berry , said he expected the event to net as much as $100,000.

The party was headlined by Mayor Anthony A. Williams and co-hosted by a bevy of deep-pocket contributors, including Ann Jordan , wife of Washington power broker Vernon Jordan ; Democratic fundraiser Beth Dozoretz ; baseball boosters Dwight Bush and Joe Robert Jr .; and retired Chinatown restaurateur Linda Lee . Fred Malek , head of the passed-over Washington Baseball Club, made an appearance, as did Georgetown gallery owner Marsha Ralls and the District's first first lady, Mary Washington , wife of former mayor Walter Washington .

As waiters circulated with trays of pinot grigio, crab cakes and fried olives, Berry and Milano owner Franco Nuschese greeted the crowd, packed on a stormy night into the front part of the restaurant. They introduced D.C. Council member Jack Evans (D-Ward 2), who bestowed his endorsement on Cropp, with whom he has served on the council since 1991.

Then came Williams, who offered a critique of the man he called Cropp's chief opponent, first-place fundraiser Adrian M. Fenty ($1.76 million). Williams (D) said people keep commenting on Fenty's ubiquity at community events and on neighborhood street corners, and wondering why Cropp isn't making as many public appearances.

"She's doing her job, first and foremost, beyond the politics, beyond the polling. . . . She's doing her job as chairman of the council and doing it well. That's what she's doing," Williams said. Meanwhile, Fenty, the Ward 4 council member, Williams said, has missed hearings on the proposed 2007 budget, over which the next mayor will preside.

"This is going to be your budget. You think you'd be there," Williams said.

Mayor for a Day

While Monday night was supposed to be all about Linda Cropp, the mayor got his biggest laugh when he inadvertently referred to his own rather lackadaisical approach to his final year in office.

Since January, Williams has repeatedly left town, jetting off to such exotic locales as Ghana, Senegal and South Korea. Before he retires next January, he expects to visit a sister city in South Africa, address a commencement crowd in Istanbul and unveil a statue of Thomas Jefferson in Paris.

On Monday, Williams made an unwitting reference to his travels. "Now, why am I here when I'm not running for office? I mean, I could be anyplace, right?" he said, clearly intending the line as a throwaway.

But a few people began to chuckle, and laughter quickly rippled across the room.

Williams smiled and acknowledged the joke.


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