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  •   Williams Leads Rivals in Money Raising

    By Yolanda Woodlee
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Tuesday, August 11, 1998; Page B01

    Mayoral candidate Anthony A. Williams outpaced his three top rivals by raising nearly $400,000 in the past eight weeks, primarily through hundreds of small donations from District residents, according to a campaign finance report filed yesterday.

    The report, the first filed by Williams since he announced his candidacy less than two months ago, showed that $340,000 came from individual contributors and $45,000 from corporate interests. More than $77,000 of his total came in contributions of $200 or less.

    "I believe that this report documents the broad support the Williams for Mayor campaign has across this city," said Williams, a Democrat.

    The three D.C. Council members running against Williams -- Harold Brazil (D-At Large), Kevin P. Chavous (D-Ward 7) and Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) -- each reported taking in about $100,000 since the last campaign filing on June 10.

    Although Williams raised the greatest amount during the reporting period and has $260,000 left to spend, Evans continued to hold the overall fund-raising lead and had the biggest bank account as the campaign enters the final stretch.

    Evans, who represents the heart of the city's downtown business community, has $400,000 to spend in the next five weeks before the Sept. 15 Democratic primary. His campaign plans to start a media blitz in about two weeks.

    Since entering the race late last year, Evans has raised $650,000, with about one-fifth of it coming from corporate donors.

    "My campaign has known that this election will come down to the last 30 days, and we have reserved our resources for the battle ahead," Evans said. "I am especially pleased that I have over 20 fund-raisers scheduled, which will secure our goal of raising about $1 million dollars."

    Chavous has raised $377,679 since he announced in early March. The report that he filed yesterday reflected that he took in $117,519 in the most recent period, with $101,000 in cash on hand as he enters the last leg of the campaign.

    Brazil, on the other hand, continues to trail significantly. Yesterday's report said he had taken in $118,191 since the June filing, and raised a total of $260,869 since March.

    Brazil played down the amount raised by Williams, depicting him as someone who benefited from the help of supporters of Mayor Marion Barry. Williams recently received the endorsements of boxing promoter Rock Newman and the Rev. Willie Wilson of Union Temple Baptist Church, the mayor's pastor.

    "This election is about leadership, integrity and the future of this city," Brazil said in a statement. "It is not about fund-raising."

    Brazil continued a line of negative campaigning that he began last week, saying that the Williams campaign has "allied itself with many of the very people the citizens of this city want to get out of the District's business. . . . Mr. Williams should 'Just Say No' to Washington's contract hustlers."

    This is expected to be one of the city's most expensive mayoral elections, particularly since the incumbent is not running. Although the four major Democratic candidates have all held official positions in the city, none is considered a household name.

    Brazil is the only candidate who has run citywide. The two other council members have waged campaigns only in their wards. Williams was formerly the chief financial officer for the District, but he was not widely known.

    Also, this is the first mayoral election since 1990 in which contributors are allowed to give up to $2,000. The cap on mayoral contributions during the 1994 mayor's race was $100. As council members, Evans and Brazil supported returning the limit to $2,000 because they said campaign costs had skyrocketed and candidates needed to be able to raise more money.

    The 146-page report filed by the Williams campaign showed 1,343 contributors, only 100 fewer than the total number of donors to his three opponents since Evans's first filing in January.

    Together the three candidates raised close to $1 million since late last year, but the difference reflected in the number of contributors and the amount raised is that the other reports contained more $2,000 contributors.

    Williams's report showed that the campaign accepted $33,000 from the Draft Anthony Williams Committee, but returned $8,000 to one contributor who exceeded the $2,000 campaign limit. Draft committees do not have a limit on contributions and do not have to report them unless the money is incorporated into the campaign after the candidate announces a bid for office.

    Almost 800 of Williams's contributors gave $100 or less, accounting for nearly $54,000; corporations chipped in $45,000. He received $3,150 from three political action committees at law firms and one at a bank. He also received a $1,000 contribution from a political committee affiliated with Philadelphia Mayor Edward G. Rendell.

    Political observers say that the amount of money candidates raise reinforces their credibility, but the identity of the contributors -- residents vs. corporate donors -- also enhances a candidate's profile.

    "Often it's forgotten that it's the residents who vote, not the business," said Art Schultz, a public relations executive not working with any campaign. "While businesses can be a gold mine for money, the real strength comes from grass-roots fund-raising. It essentially means you put your money where your vote will be."

    © Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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