Sunday night's party at Bitsey Folger's Georgetown house was billed primarily as a chance to help one-time mayoral candidate John Ray pay off his campaign debts. Ray, a 35-year-old lawyer, dropped out of the Democratic race in August and actively threw his support to Marion Barry, who was eventually elected.

In return, Folger, the Barrys (Marion and wife Effi) and a small contingent of "Barry's Army" decided to help Ray raise money to erase about $7,000 in red ink from his campaign ledgers. But Ray used the occasion to make it known publicly that he plans to run for Barry's at-large seat on the council in a special election May 1.

Although Barry refused Monday to take a public stand on supporting Ray, those close to him say Ray is Barry's man. That is bad news for school board President Conrad P. Smith, who had hoped support from Barry (who Smith supported in the Democratic primary) would get Smith chosen as Barry's interim replacement by the D.C. Democratic State Committee.

Ray already has begun sounding out state committee members for support, and many of those loyal to Barry say they owe Ray more for his help in the campaign than they owe Smith.

Confidants of Barry also say privately that Smith's cause "wasn't helped any," to quote one, by the findings of the D.C. Bar's disciplinary board that Smith had defrauded one client and neglected others and should have his license to practice law taken away for 18 months.

The state committee is scheduled to select a stand-in for Barry on Jan. 8 - six days after the mayor-elect is sworn into office. When Ray picks up his candidacy petitions from the state committee office, he will find that there is already a long list of competitors.

They include Smith, council member Douglas E. Moore (whose current term ends Jan. 2 and who lost a bid to the council chairman), housing manager H. R. Crawford, police wives' activist Goldie C. Johnson, cab driver Lee Manor and Hector Rodrigue - the last four lost in the Sept. 12 primary for another at-large seat on the council.

Add to that the names of Johnnie Barnes, an aide to Del. Walter E. Fauntroy; Jim Nutall, a ward six Democratic leader; Jerry Cooper, a ward one Democratic leader; Donna Potts, who worked in City Council Chairman Sterling Tucker's unsuccessful campaign for mayor, and Odis Von Blasingame and Mary C. Tucker - both of whom ran unsuccessfully for delegates to next week's Democratic National Mini-Convention in Memphis.

The line forms at the rear.

At least two people have actively begun campaigning for the other spot on the May 1 ballot - successor to Council Chairman-elect Arrington Dixon as representative on the council from Ward 4 in Upper Northwest.

Andrew Coleman, an administrator at Howard University, has formally announced his candidacy. Charlene Drew Jarvis has already begun to have wine and cheese parties. Unlike the Barry seat, the Dixon seat will remain vacant until after the May 1 election.

Marion Barry, Sterling Tucker and Mayor Walter E. Washington have decided to hold a joint fun-draiser to help pay off the debts, they incurred trying to defeat each other in the Sept. 12 Democratic primary for mayor.

Barry, whose campaign has already moved into the black, will not get any money from the scheduled Dec. 12, $250-a-head affair at the Washington Hilton Hotel. But Tucker and Washington have a total of about $100,000 in debts, and fundraiser organizers hope some of that will disappear after the two candidates split the proceeds from the affair.

Ann Kinney, who organized that $500-a-plate Oct. 10 fundraiser that brought Barry $60,000 in two hours, has been put in charge of the event. A Washington Sterling Tucker Committee" is being formed, Kinney said, with Giant Foods Chairman Joseph B. Danzansky as its head.

Robert L. Pruitt, pastor of Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church, says it will probably be a real last hurrah when his church sponsors its special $50-a-person "Decade of Service" testimonial Dec. 00 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel for Mayor Walter E. Washington.

Defeated in the Sept. 12 primary, Washington leaves office after 11 years as mayor on Jan. 2. "When a man has spent more than 10 years and brought the city from ashes to good health," Pruitt said, "somebody ought to say thank you."