The District of Columbia Democratic State Committee, apparently on the brink of an embarrassing deadlock, heard campaign pitches last night from 11 persons seeking selection by the committee as interim replacement for Mayor Marion Barry on the City Council.
A sharp division within the 53-person committee prior to its Monday vote on the replacement is one of the major reasons why committee chairman Robert B. Washington Jr. has called a last-minute closed meeting Sunday of committee members and elected Democratic officials.
Washington said last night the meeting would be held to air thoroughly the views of all leading Democrats who are not candidates.
Another key state committee member said privately, however, that the meeting is aimed at finding a way to put together the 27 votes necessary for endorsement. "I think there's going to be an effort to reunify us, but I don't think we will be reunified," the member said.
At a meeting in the City Council chambers last night, the committee heard from the two persons believed to be front-runners for the position. They are lawyer John Ray, a one-time candidate for the party's mayoral nomination and now a supporter and endorsee of Barry, and realtor H. R. Crawford, who ran unsuccessfully for an at-large Council nomination last fall.
Crawford's scheduled 10minute presentation to the group was cut short abruptly at the midway point when, apparently overcome by the thick air and smoke in the crowded chambers, slumped to his knees and fainted.
Crawford was taken to George Washington University Hospital where he was treated briefly and discharged.
Ray and Crawford are believed to have secured a total of 40 votes. Other committee members' votes appear to be scattered among various candidates, primarily former council member Douglas E. Moore and Johnny Barnes, a legislative assistatnt to Del. Walter E. Fauntroy (D-D.C.).
Two of the original 13 candidates withdrew last night. One was D.C. school teacher Lee Manor, who said he felt the party was "beginning to splinter." The other was council member David A. Clarke (D-Ward 1), who does not want to relinquish his current seat to have the temporary appointment.
Clarke said he would prefer that the committee appoint someone who would hold the seat only until May 1, when a special citywide election will be held to choose someone to complete the remaining two years of Barry's term.