Fenty Sweep Is One for the Record Books

By Lori Montgomery and Elissa Silverman
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, September 21, 2006

Through the summer, Mayor Anthony A. Williams argued endlessly that his preferred successor, council chairman Linda W. Cropp , was just the person to unite a city long divided along lines of race and class.

But in the Sept. 12 Democratic primary, it was council member Adrian M. Fenty who appeared to accomplish that goal, sweeping all eight wards and all 142 precincts to capture the nomination.

It was a historic performance. Fenty is the first mayoral candidate to win every precinct in the historically decisive Democratic primary since the advent of home rule in 1974, according to elections records and news reports. The person who carries affluent, largely white Ward 3 in Northwest Washington rarely wins the city's poorest precincts across town in largely black Ward 8.

Walter Washington, Marion Barry , Sharon Pratt and Williams all took office after winning the Democratic nomination with the strong support of white and more affluent voters. All had opponents who did better among low-income voters. Barry later turned the calculus of victory on its head, winning reelection to the mayor's office in 1982, 1986 and 1994 by rallying black and low-income voters to overcome the strong disapproval of whites in Ward 3.

Fenty, by contrast, was the overwhelming choice of voters everywhere -- black and white, rich and poor, east of the Anacostia River and west of Rock Creek Park. He won at least 52 percent of the vote in every ward, taking about 55 percent in Ward 3 and about 56 percent in Ward 8.

On primary day, there was some early sniping about the supposed failure of Fenty's army of volunteers to effectively deliver voters to the polls. Cropp partisans insisted throughout the day that turnout was low.

In the end, however, Fenty won with an impressive number of votes, piling up 57,361 citywide, compared with 30,993 for Cropp and 11,704 for everybody else running. That's 15,000 votes more than Pratt received during her successful 1990 campaign and 12,000 more than Williams used to claim victory in 1998.

(It is fewer, however, than the 62,714 Williams received during his scandal-plagued 2002 write-in campaign against the Rev. Willie Wilson . It is also fewer than the 66,777 Barry got during his 1994 "recovery" campaign, according to the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics.)

"From what it sounds like, it got our voters out," Fenty said of his primary-election operation. "Which is what it was designed to do."

Don't Forget Nov. 7, Kranich Cries

After celebrating last week's victory, Adrian M. Fenty wasted no time getting straight to work. He held a news conference Monday, announcing on the steps of the John A. Wilson Building that he intends to retain Chief Financial Officer Natwar M. Gandhi when he takes office in January.

January? Wait a minute. Isn't there a general election in November?

That's what David Kranich , the Republican nominee for mayor, keeps asking. He showed up at Fenty's news conference to remind people to come back to the polls Nov. 7.

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