Them that's got shall get.
Them that's not shall lose.
So the Bible said
And it still is news.
Mama may have.
Papa may have.
But God bless the child
That's got his own.
"God Bless the Child" Copyright, Edward B. Marks
Music Corp. Used by permission.
What jazz artist Billie Holiday was singing about some 40 years ago has become a fact of life in local politics these days, with some would-be political movers and shakers scrambling to find their own candidates for mayor and City Council chairman.
These likely organizers and campaign financiers want people in office who embody their image of a city leader and who will take Washington in the direction they think it should go. No one like that is among the present candidates, they believe, and less than four months remain before candidate petitions must be filed.
Some leading city Republicans, who only three months ago felt very strongly that they would not have a candidate for mayor this year, have suddenly joined with other still unidentified persons in trying to encourage Arthur A. Fletcher, who served as an assistant secretary of labor in the Nixon administration, to run for mayor under the GOP banner.
Meanwhile, a small group of young, affluent professionals and others are trying to convince television personality Carol Randolph that she could be council chairman and do a much better job of it than the only announced candidate to date, maverick Democratic Council member Douglas E. Moore.
Neither Fletcher, a 53-year-old labor and urban affairs consultant, nor Randolph, a 36-year-old television cohost with a law degree from Catholic University, have made up their minds. Both hope to decide by the end of the month.
Still, the fact that more than two dozen people gathered last month at a testing-the-waters meeting for Randolph, and Fletcher's testimony that he is daily being urged by many to give it a go are further indications that the electorate is still looking around for candidates in the top two races.
Fletcher won't say who his callers are. Some, he said, are Democrats, others are members of "that 300 and something member advisory group" - the Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners, and still others are professionals.
"There's a tremendous protest environment in this town," Fletcher said, when asked about his chances of winning as a Republican in a city where 75 percent of the registered voters are Democrats. "This protest attitude - blacks are disappointed with the Carter administration, and people are disappointed with the city council and the administrative level of local government - diminishes the fact that I wear a Republican label. If Nixon was still in the White House, I wouldn't stand a ghost of a chance."
Fletcher acknowledges that he has had little involvement with D.C. government (he was a city council member in Pasco, Washington) but thinks he can overcome that obstacle. What the people want, he says, is "someone who understands government well enough to articulate the issues so they know what they're voting on.
"I have some reservations as to whether the people who are in there now have ever been in a campaign. They do a fine job in a popularity contest. But running a city is not like running a popularity contest."
Randolph, who worked for the United Planning Organization before joinint WTOP-TV in 1969, thinks her attraction is as someone with "creativity and new visions." What those who have called her say, she relates, is that they are "trying to move against the negativism - not voting FOR this person because I'm voting AGAINST that one."
Attending the get-acquainted session for Randolph was lawyer Vincent Cohen, who backed Clifford L. Alexander in 1974, and tried to get Ronald H. Brown to run for mayor this year. He agrees.
"People want that alternative," Cohen said. "The same rascals have been in city government together, and even though they haven't had the same positions, the impression is that they're the same rascals and it will be more of the same old thing (if they're elected)."
Peggy Cooper, a lawyer and arts activist, and realtor Conrad Cafritz, who volunteers that the last thing he wants is to see Moore elected council chairman, convened the meet-Carol Randolph session. "There's a search (for a candidate), but it's an apathetic search," Cooper said. "There are some people - not people I can identify - who are saying we have got to find somebody to beat Douglas Moore. It's not just beating Douglas Moore. It's much more than that. It's finding someone who can lead this city into another stage of maturity."
While the race for mayors is likely to see all three of the big name candidates - Mayor Walter E. Washington, Council Chairman Sterling Tucker and City Councilman Marion Barry - and perhaps even newcomer John L. Ray, a lawyer, get healthy campaign donations from the business community, the race for chairman is different. In that instance, city businessmen appear to be waiting on the right candidate to come along to defeat Moore, who businessmen feel will make them the brunt of his legislative wrath. Only, then, it appears, the money will come flowing in.
Arrington Dixon, the 4th Ward Democrat who very early announced his support for Tucker, is now considered almost certain to announce his candidacy for the chairmanship soon. David A. Clarke (D-Ward 1) is also still giving serious consideration to running for chairman rather than seeking re-election to his seat representing the Adams-Morgan and Mt. Pleasant sections of the city.
The Rev. David Eaton, senior minister of All Souls' Unitarian Church, appears to have all but abandoned his plans to run. Meanwhile, Council Member John A. Wilson (D-Ward 2), who is officially not running for anything this year, is now saying that people are talking to him about running for council chairman, and he is listening.
The primary elections are Sept. 12.