Perhaps only in the unique local cities of Washington would the D.C. Democratic State Committee, the [WORD ILLEGIBLE] organization of the city's dominant political party have to use affirmative active techniques to being to its ranks as "under-represented democratic constituencies" such groups as organized labor and the business community.
And perhaps only in Washington, where the city's most prominent Demoncrats have been in a constant stat of turmoil over the past two years - first ever who should be on the state committee and who should be mayor - would that effort be met with such suspicion.
In an atmosphere of mutual distrust, the state committee abruptly adjourned its regular monthly meeting in confusion last week, following an intraparty confrontation primarily between supporters of two unannounced mayoral candidates - City Council Chairman Sterling Tucker and Councilman Marion Barry.
The proposal was approved on a 19-to-18 vote before the meeting broke up. Some opponents of the plan have said, however, that they might seek reconsideration and another vote next month.
On the surface, it was a political dispute. Barry supporters, Tucker foes and some committee members opposed to the principle of enlarging the elected group by appointment joined together in an unsuccessful attempt to block the move to enlarge the committee that some felt would eventually stack the group with Tucker supporters.
At a more fundamental level, however, the internal strife was a genuine Washington story, some feel, which told as much about the evolution of Home Rule politics in this city as it did about the intensifying race for the Democratic mayoral nomintion of 1978.
"I think a lot was read into that as being power play by (unannounced mayoral candidate) Sterling Tucker or as being damaging to Marlon Barry's (unannounced mayoral) campaign. That's a very unfortunate thing," said committee member John W. Hechinger, a prominent figure in local Democratic politics for many years. "In so far as this being the cause for dividing the committee, you might just call it an early outcropping of what was going to eventualize anyway.
"We're a one-party state. The primary is the ball game. This is a time for people to split apart rather than join together . . . The truth of the matter is that in Washington, a city without the vote for so long, the Democratic Party hasn't operated from strength, it hasn't been anywhere. As weak as it appeared last week, it probably is more vital thatn it's ever been in the past."
The issue that caused the first clearly visible intraparty clash over the 1978 mayoral race was a proposal by Robert B! Washington Jr., city Democratic chairman, to authorize selection of the 12 additional committee members.
Washington and others contended that the additional members were necessary to bring groups not currently represented in the party hiearchy - especially those who are traditional sources of money - onto the state committee, which is presetntly composed mostly of neighborhood political operatives.
Several committee members and political observers interviewed last week said that the absence of labor representation on the committee is in large part because those who currently control the group came to power by defeating labor-backed candidates last year and have yet to successfully mend relations.
In may, 1976, the Unity '76 Coalition, led by Tucker, Barry and D.C. Del. Walter E. Fauntroy, won all but three of the 44 committee seats being filled. Unity '76 beat the Open Party slate, headed by Mayor Walter E. Washington and Councilman Douglas E. Moore, and backed by the citys's organized labor groups.
"When the smoke cleared, they (the winners) were out there alone. Rather than trying to strike a kind of relationship, folks went about their own ways acting like they had conquered the world," said William Luch, vice president of the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees, who ran and lost as the Open Party candidate for national committeeman.
Hechinger and others acknowledged that there have been unsuccessful efforts to bridge the gap between the Unity dominated state committee and the labor community, whic in Washington is seen as being politically important because of its financial resources, its representation of white collar workers and its influence on Capitol Holl.
But as late as June, when the Unity dominated state committee held its first annual Kennedys-King Day Dinner in an effort to raise money, many labor groups refused to contribute because they were not on the committee according to Ron Linton, the chairman of the event.
The $100-a-plate dinner raised only $17,000 to $20,000, chairman Washington said, far less that the estimated $75,000 to $100,000 the committee feels it needs to operate effectively for a year.
Despite the results of the dinner, the committee has raised more than $10,000 this year, Washington said. $30,000 of which has been retained after paying expenses. When the Unity group took over, it inherited a $7,500 debt, according to Washington.
Like the labor organizations, the business community has traditionally supported Major Washington, though it stayed basically neutral in the Unity-Open Party confrontation in 1976. But other factos have influenced its remoteness from the local Democratic organization.
Until the first locally elected government in more than a century took office in 1975, there was little reason to support the local Democratic organization. Instead, city businesssmen were more likely to give to the Democratic or Republican national committees or the campaign committs of faraway congressmen of both parties who sat on the congressional District committees.
Business have now begun to note the shift in power from Capitol Hill and thw White House to the District Building. But even with that realization, some businessmen are still not sure how effective the fledgling local Demoncartic group will be.
We've never quite had a political organization here in the sense of the kind tht existed in other cities. So the business community, like most other people who watch politics, is cautiously feeling its way along," said R. Robert Linowes, a politically active lawyer who is president-elect of the Metropolitan Washington Board of Trade.
In addition to adding to the number of at-large members. Washington's plan provides for adding more young people, lationos and representatives of elected officials, as well as Democratic ward committee chairmen, to the state committee.