D.C. MAYOR

Reiterating Her Love for the City, Cropp Concedes to Fenty

Linda Cropp, center, campaigning near Dupont Circle with Council member Carol Schwartz and Mayor Anthony A. Williams, said she believed in the city's voters:
Linda Cropp, center, campaigning near Dupont Circle with Council member Carol Schwartz and Mayor Anthony A. Williams, said she believed in the city's voters: "It'll be the people who will make the difference." (Photos By Melina Mara -- The Washington Post)

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By B y Paul Schwartzman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Even as pollsters and pundits forecast her political demise, Linda W. Cropp marched across the District yesterday, imploring voters to help her capture city hall.

She smiled, smiled and smiled some more, declining to entertain the prospect that her 26-year political career could soon be over.

"See you at the victory party!" the D.C. Council's Democratic chairman cooed to a volunteer outside a Southeast polling place.

But just after 10:15 p.m., Cropp faced supporters gathered in a downtown hotel and conceded that the night would not turn out as she had hoped.

Her voice steady, her lips forming that ever-present smile, she congratulated council member Adrian M. Fenty (D-Ward 4) on running a "good campaign" and promised to support the Democratic nominee.

"I leave this campaign with the same love for the District of Columbia as when I started," Cropp, 57, said as Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D) and a handful of supporters and family members stood behind her.

Then she stepped off the stage and into the crowd, hugging her way across the floor to the exit. "It was an honor working for you," one man said as Cropp buried her head on his shoulder.

Throughout her campaign, Cropp fought hard to overcome criticism that her many years as an elected official too closely tied her to the political establishment.

Indeed, her defeat ends a career that began with election to the Board of Education in 1980. A decade later, Cropp jumped to the D.C. Council, becoming chairman in 1997.

Yet despite her vast network of political and business connections, Cropp was unable to muster the kind of street-level buzz that propels triumphant campaigns.

Even yesterday, as she traveled the city in the hours before the polls closed, it was apparent that her campaign was in trouble.

No cheering or music or coterie of well-known faces greeted Cropp as she made the rounds early in the day. Just a driver, her chief of staff, a few volunteers and Eric Holder Jr., the former U.S. attorney. Williams and other well-known supporters joined her later in the day.


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© 2006 The Washington Post Company

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