Signatures to Spare for Cropp, Fenty

By Nikita Stewart and Elissa Silverman
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, July 6, 2006

The two leading District mayoral candidates, Council Chairman Linda W. Cropp (D) and council member Adrian M. Fenty (D-Ward 4), delivered hundreds of nominating petitions yesterday, each exceeding the required 2,000 signatures needed to place their names on the ballot for the Sept. 12 primary.

Fenty's campaign said it gathered 21,548 signatures. Cropp's campaign said workers and volunteers collected 15,000.

Yesterday was the deadline for candidates for mayor, council, shadow senator and representative and nonvoting delegate to the House of Representatives to turn in nominating petitions for the primary.

Scrutiny of the once-routine task of gathering signatures has increased since 2002, when Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D) turned in thousands of bogus signatures. He did not qualify for the primary ballot and was fined more than $250,000.

Williams mounted a write-in campaign to win the Democratic nomination, but it served as a lesson to other candidates. Williams had collected 10,000 signatures, and about 9,000 of them were challenged.

The mayoral petitions submitted yesterday by the five major Democratic candidates appeared to follow the trend in polls and the candidates' fundraising efforts. Once again, Fenty and Cropp were ahead of the pack. Both deployed campaign staff members and volunteers to collect signatures. Cropp's field operations consultant, Capital Solutions Group, also employed "some folks that got paid a dollar a signature," said Kevin McGhaw, the firm's president.

Marie C. Johns, a retired Verizon executive, had a reported 10,000 signatures. Council member Vincent B. Orange Sr., who carried his petitions to the Judiciary Square election office in an orange gift bag, said he had close to 6,000. Orange said he had validated 2,383 of them.

Lobbyist Michael A. Brown did not disclose a total. "I just know we have 2,000 valid signatures," he said.

Two other Democrats, three Republicans and a Statehood Green Party candidate also turned in petitions for mayor.

Candidates for chairman and the at-large seat also had to get 2,000 signatures. Filing petitions for the Democratic primary were: council members Vincent C. Gray (D-Ward 7) and Kathy Patterson (D-Ward 3), who are running for chairman, and council member Phil Mendelson (D-At Large) and lawyer A. Scott Bolden, who are vying for the at-large seat. A Republican and a Statehood Green candidate also turned in petitions for the at-large seat.

In races for four ward council seats, candidates needed 250 signatures of registered ward voters from their parties.

What had been a four-way race in Ward 1 is now a battle between council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) and real estate developer Chad Williams, the only candidates to turn in petitions.

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