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D.C. Mayor Endorses Obama's Campaign

Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, left, and Democratic senator and presidential candidate Barack Obama appear in Washington. Local officials hope greater influence in primary season will bolster support for congressional voting rights in D.C.
Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, left, and Democratic senator and presidential candidate Barack Obama appear in Washington. Local officials hope greater influence in primary season will bolster support for congressional voting rights in D.C. (By Nikki Kahn -- The Washington Post)

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By David Nakamura
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Mayor Adrian M. Fenty endorsed Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) yesterday for the Democratic presidential nomination, and he said Obama was the only candidate who had sought his support.

Fenty (D) expressed hearty support for Obama during a midday news conference at a recreation center in Southwest, calling Obama the best candidate and announcing that he would serve as his D.C. chairman.

"You have a long, hard campaign in front of you," Fenty told Obama. Fenty, who won all 142 precincts in the mayoral race last fall, added with a grin: "This city knows a lot about long, hard, door-to-door campaigns."

The endorsement came two weeks after a key Fenty adviser, Jim Hudson, organized a District-based fundraiser that collected $600,000 for Obama. Hudson recently flew to Chicago to work out the details of Fenty's endorsement.

Obama didn't get off without a promise to Fenty. The senator pledged to fight for full congressional voting rights for the District if he wins the White House.

"Folks in D.C. still don't have a voice in their national government. That's wrong," Obama said. "Residents shouldn't be treated like tenants."

The District has been trying to make a bigger splash in the primary season and use the attention in its push for voting rights. In 2004, the city held the first Democratic primary in the country -- won by Howard Dean -- but it was nonbinding and turnout was low. Then-Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D) did not endorse a candidate.

In 2008, the D.C. primary will be Feb. 12, as will Maryland's and Virginia's. Although other Democratic candidates, including New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, have supported voting rights for the District, Fenty called Obama the best choice, citing his commitment to education, health care and affordable housing.

"He is deeply committed to Washington, D.C., and to big cities and urban issues across the country," Fenty said.

Fenty and Obama appeared dressed alike, both wearing navy-blue suits, white shirts and light-blue ties. In a nod to the heat, however, Obama took off his suit jacket and rolled up his sleeves.

"It's hot out here," he said, encouraging everyone else to get comfortable. Fenty kept his jacket on.

A few dozen Obama and Fenty supporters were on hand, waving dark blue Obama signs. As the officials worked the crowd, Fenty called over his official photographer, Lateef Mangum.

"Okay, everyone say: 'Obama for president!' " Fenty instructed as they posed.

During a question-and-answer session, someone asked Obama how he would translate his fundraising success into improved standings in public opinion polls, where he trails Clinton significantly.

Obama paused and took a drink of water.

"To know me," he answered, "is to love me."


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