About two weeks ago, John Ray, who recently withdrew as a Democratic candidate for mayor, endorsed Council member Douglas E. Moore for council chairman. A few days later, Ray endorsed one of Moore's arch political rivals, Council member Marion Barry, for mayor.
Moore has officially endorsed no one for mayor, though he campaigns a lot with Mayor Walter E. Washington. Realtor Flaxie Pinkett is raising money for Washington's reelection, but she is also raising campaign funds for Council member Arrington Dixon - Moore's principal opponent in the race for council chairman.
Dixon's candidacy is endorsed by Del. Walter E. Fauntroy and City Council Chairman Sterling Tucker, who is also running for mayor. Sunday, the Rev. Theodore S. Ledbetter of Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ, said he too endorses Fauntroy for Congress and Tucker for mayor, but is backing Moore for chairman of the council.
Phil Watson who ran Moore's campaign in 1974, is supporting Fauntroy for Congress and Moore for chairman. But Watson would rather see Marion Barry as mayor.
Right, it is very confusing.
A year ago this time, city politicians were forever talking about the possibilities of slate-making for the fall elections. But now the only slate that really exists is the Fauntroy-Tucker-Dixon "partnership for change." Even within it, at times, the straight ticket rhetoric is toned down, especially in the case of Dixon, who enjoys political support from people in the camps of all three major Democratic candidates for mayor.
What the confusion is all about is that in the first modern decade of local elected politics here, the names and faces are mostly from one big and sometimes happy family. There are shared constituencies, as one local political operative calls them, and that clouds the picture for those who would like to see city politics with lines more sharply drawn.
Most of the major candidates seeking top elective office in the District were nurtured in either the civil rights-community activist theatre, the old established black elite or a combination of both. That reality is an interesting backdrop to the crucial Democratic primary, which draws to a close next week.
There are, for example, the churches, a prime sector of the city's electorate. Fauntroy, a Baptist pastor, and Moore, a Methodist minister, both have a common constituency here, even though their politics are often at odds with one another.
Though he is not a minister, Washington has church support as well, dating back to the days when he did free legal work for many of the churches and stemming also from his marriage to the daughter of the late Rev. George O. Bullock, a prominent minister.
The Rev. Jerry A. Moore Jr., the lone Republican on the city council, also has a part of that base, even though this is an overwhelmingly Democratic city. Moore is the pastor of the Nineteenth Street Baptist Church.
Another shared base, which is more often a source for campaign workers than for votes, is the civil rights and black power movements.
Fauntroy, former director of the local branch of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and Moore, past chairman of the Black United Front, have support among such people.Barry, former co-director of Pride, has a share of that base as well. Tucker, who was director of the Washington Urban League, is former civil rights activist of sorts, too.
As a member of the moderate Urban League, Tucker also has support among the established black middle class, another important constituency, which produced much of the city's prominent black persons prior to the coming of elective politics.
Washington has support among that sector of the population partially because like many of them, he went to Howard University. He also married into a prominent local black middle-class family. Dixon is a Howard University graduate, too, and the family of his wife, Sharon Pratt Dixon, is among the more notable black Washington families as well.
In the business community, Washington has supporters who have dealt with him through the years as mayor of the city since 1967. Yet it was to many of those same people that Tucker went as Urban League director trying to raise money and quell fears of racial animosity.
If that were not enough, there is the fact that many of these politicians have been in various political partnerships in the past and in many respects, their current organizations are splinter groups of previous groups to which others also belonged.
Tucker and Washington ran together in 1974. Tucker, Fauntroy and Barry teamed up to defeat Washington in the 1976 fight for control of the city's regular Democratic organization.
As long as the leading city politicians are pretty much cut from the same cloth, city politics is likely to have the same flavor. There will be continued Democratic Party infighting and political one-upsmanship by candidates who have relatively similar views on the issues but differ on points of style and personality.
That appears to be a political fact of life in this city for a few more years to come. Later, as a new generation of politicians drawn from different backgrounds emerges, things may change.