New Cropp Fliers Attack Fenty

By Elissa Silverman and Lori Montgomery
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Character issues were injected into the race for mayor over the weekend, as candidate Linda W. Cropp (D) mailed campaign fliers to thousands of registered voters depicting front-runner Adrian M. Fenty as turning his back on senior citizens and children who needed his help.

The brochure paid for by the Cropp campaign shows the back of a man wearing a white shirt with rolled-up sleeves, no visible hair -- Fenty shaves his head -- and a microphone in his hand. "Blind Ambition" reads the text on the cover next to the photo, which resembles the Ward 4 D.C. Council member.

But the man pictured is not Fenty, the Cropp campaign said yesterday.

The negative literature outraged some District voters who wrote e-mails to the Fenty campaign and several neighborhood e-mail discussion groups to say that Cropp's attack persuaded them to support Fenty.

Last night, Joan Thomas said she and other Fenty supporters in Ward 4, where Cropp and Fenty live, met to discuss Cropp's campaign literature and a response. Among the ideas on the table, she said: Collect dozens of Cropp's fliers and dump them on the doorstep of her K Street campaign headquarters.

"I think the whole thing in a nutshell is she's running scared," Thomas said of Cropp, the council chairman.

Cropp supporter Lawrence Guyot disagreed, saying the discussion of Fenty's record was "good and healthy."

Ronald Walters, a professor of politics and government at the University of Maryland, said the mailing appeared to target seniors and parents, considered to be likely voters for Cropp.

"She's trying to bring his positives down. Negative ads have the effect of doing that," Walters said. "I don't think she was targeting this to a youthful population at all. These are people who are disproportionately her constituents."

The two groups go to the ballot box in strong numbers in District elections, Walters added.

A poll concluded last week showed Fenty leading Cropp, 39 percent to 28 percent, with 17 percent undecided, in the Sept. 12 Democratic primary. The margin of error was 2.5 percentage points. Pollster Ron Lester interviewed 600 likely Democratic voters by phone Aug. 12-15.

A Washington Post poll last month showed Fenty ahead by 10 percentage points among likely Democratic voters.

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