At least on the contests in Tuesday's election for the D.C. school board left Mayor Marion Barry, the self-styled consummate politician who had boasted of not losing an election in the last years, licking his wounds.
Four of the six candidates supported by the mayor won. But two others lost, including the one from his home ward.
In Ward 6, on Capitol Hill where Barry lives, his candidate lost to incumbent John E. Warren, a staunch political foe of Barry. The mayor's candidate, Loraine Bennett, had the support of not only Barry, but also of two at-large members of the City Council and the council member who represents the ward as well.
Barry's political opponents were laughing about the outcome, saying it made a mockery of the mayor's vaunted political "machine."
"I never had a machine. I had one vote. I merely let my opinion be known," said Barry, who had called a press conference in the closing days of the election to announce his endorsement of Bennett.
Mayor defended his controversial involvement in the campaign. "If people don't want the selection of school board members to be political, then perhaps we should not have an elected school board, because all elections are political," Barry said.
With that, Barry rested his case, bid his press secretary good day and went off to a disco radio station to spin records as part of a benefit for retarded citizens.
Yesterday was not a good time for chest beating for many city politicians, would-be power brokers and those who had held power on the school board before Tuesday's election.
Two incumbent members of the board's voting majority -- Victoria T. Street (Ward 4) and Conrad P. Smith (Ward 1) -- were turned out of office. Two incumbents who were members of the board's voting minority, John E. Warren (Ward 6) and Bettie G. Benjamin (Ward 5) were reelected.
Four of six candidates backed by Barry won -- incumbent Eugene Kinlow (at-large), Frank Smith Jr. (Ward 1), Linda W. Cropp (Ward 4) and Nathaniel Bush (Ward 7).
But Barry failed to make any political inroads in Ward 5 in Northeast Washington, where he has never been strong. His candidate, mayoral aide Matthew F. Shannon, lost to a Republican incumbent in a ward that has the second highest Democratic registration in the city.
In Ward 6, one of the wards carried by Barry in his surprising victory in last night's Democratic primary, all of the recognized political muscle in the ward -- Barry, at-large council members John Ray and Betty Ann Kane and council member Nadine P. Winter -- could do no better than a close second.
Tuesday's election gave no indication of who would become the new majority on the 11-member board, which must meet sometime in mid-December to choose a new president. The old six-person majority has been split in half and there are now two other factions of four persons each.
As a result of the election, board vice president Carol Schwartz, a member of the old majority, said yesterday she would probably not seek the presidency. oOther board members said they had no indication of who might be the next board president. It was also too early, they said, to predict what changes in educational policy might be ushered in by the election.
In at least one contest, the election is not yet over. In Ward 6, incumbent Warren led challenger Bennent by 79 votes when all of the regular ballots were counted Tuesday night. But there are still 123 challenged ballots that must be counted and an undetermined number of the 190 absentee ballots cast could also affect the Ward 6 race.
Bennett said yesterday that she would not concede defeat until the ballots were counted. "It's too close. I'm not ridiculous, and I don't fantasize a lot. But this one is just too close," she said.