The Washingtonian magazine has broken a 25-year tradition by making a political endorsement. In an unprecedented editorial in the August edition, the magazine is supporting John Ray to become the city's next mayor. In coming to the decision, Washingtonian Executive Editor John Sansing said, the magazine's board of editors met in April and May with all the potential candidates except Mayor Marion Barry, who declined the invitation. "With the city in such turmoil," Sansing said yesterday, the Washingtonian decided to speak out because "this is the most important election since 1978."

In endorsing the low-profile, soft-spoken Ray, the Washingtonian editorial argues: "After twelve years of a high-profile, confrontational mayor, the District of Columbia needs a leader who in a low-key manner can unite this city, now beset with budgetary deficits, a dangerous drug culture, and increasing racial distrust. A lowering of rhetoric and a lessening of the confrontation are needed."

Out and About

Nixon had the movie "Patton," Reagan loved "Rambo" and Bush seems to have adopted the new Chuck Norris film, "Delta Force II." Norris, a pal of the president, brought his new movie to the White House and the president loved the macho story of tough Drug Enforcement Administration guys defeating an evil Latin American drug lord. Norris has shown the film to several members of the House and tonight will be in town for a special screening for members of the Senate at a Union Station theater. The showing will be sponsored by Sens. Robert Dole and Pete Wilson. And they'll undoubtedly come out of the theater raring to go kick a little ...

Some people are counting the shopping days to Christmas, but in Sen. Barbara Mikulski's office there's a countdown to the beginning of the new millennium. The Maryland senator says she's trying to energize her staff into thinking about the 21st century. On her daily schedule she runs a countdown. Yesterday was 3,448 days and counting ...

It looks like Broadway's most successful showman, Andrew Lloyd Webber, is facing a copyright-infringement suit over a song in his score for the hit "The Phantom of the Opera." Ray Repp, a Trumansburg, N.Y., composer and music publisher, filed a suit in federal court in Chicago, where the musical is playing, contending Lloyd Webber stole his music. Hearing the score for the first time a few months ago, Repp said he was startled by the similarity between "The Phantom's" theme and his 1978 copyright song, "Till You." "Bar for bar, measure for measure, it was my song," he said. There has been no response yet from Lloyd Webber's production company ...

It's a May-December wedding for legendary film star Gene Kelly. The 77-year-old star of "Singin' in the Rain" and "An American in Paris" was married for the third time this past weekend to Patricia Ward, 36, his girlfriend of five years. They were wed in a private ceremony in Santa Barbara, Calif., and will honeymoon in Europe later this summer ...

A quote from actor Brian Dennehy in Life magazine that could have come from any major player in Washington as well: "After all the hard years, you start getting a little attention. You feel like a champion. You think you are something. But your wife knows you're not. She knows you're a jerk. She saw it all. She was there" ...