Sen. Edward M. Kenedy (D-Mass.) drew slightly more supporters than President Carter yesterday to the District's Democratic caucuses, which selected slates of names to appear on the city's May 6 presidential primary ballot.
Carter organizers, however, turned out more supporters from Wards 4 and 5, which traditionally have the heaviest turnout of black voters.
Citywide, Kennedy drew 690 supporters to Carter's 544, according to official figures released yesterday. The city was divided into two sections with separate caucuses that picked slates of delegates whose names will appear under the candidates' on the May 6 ballot.
Kennedy's top vote-getters at the caucus held at Dunbar High School, 1301 New Jersey Ave. NW, were D.C. Del. Walter E. Fauntroy and former Democratic national committeewoman Lillian Huff, Gay activist Paul Kuntzler and City Councilmember Betty Ann Kane topped the Kennedy list at the other caucus held at the Georgetown University Law Center.
Former Carter drug policy adviser Peter G. Bourne and his wife, Mary E. King, deputy director of the federal Action agency drew top votes for Carter at the Georgetown caucus. City Council members Charlene Drew Jarvis and William Spaulding headed the list of potential delegates for Carter in the Dunbar caucus.
Democratic National Committeeman John Hechinger and Democratic State Chairman Robert Washington also won spots for Carter at the Dunbar caucus. c
Political organizers for the presidential candidates hope to use the well-known local names to draw financial support and votes in the primary, which is expected to be a measure of black support for Kennedy or Carter.
The caucuses -- which drew less than 2 percent of the city's 188,000 registered Democrats -- were the first step toward picking 19 delegates to the national Democratic presidential convention which will be held in August in New York City.
Thirteen of the national delegates will be apportioned to the presidential candidates based on the popular vote each receives in the May 6 primary. The six other delegates will be chosen later by the elected delegates and the Democratic State Committee members.
"I think that [the turn out] says that Kennedy is very strong in the city and that there is very strong disappointment with Carter," said Council member Kane, one of three council members committed to Kennedy.
However, Janette Hoston Harris, Carter's D.C. coordinator, said Kennedy's larger turnout was due to his support among politically active homosexuals. "It wasn't grass roots and it wasn't across the board," she said. "Ours was."
Most of the participants in yesterday's caucuses were political insiders -- the people who already hold elected office or are active in civic, neighborhood or Democratic Party organizations.
Much of the Kennedy support did come from gay activists. One of the homosexual organizations, the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, had buses running every 20 minutes from DePont Circle to the Georgetown caucus, which was open to party voters from Wards 1, 2, 6 and 8.
The Dunbar caucus included voters from Wards 3, 4, 5 and 7.
At the Georgetown caucus, gay activist Runtzler was one of four homosexuals elected to the 20-member Kennedy slate that also includes Kane, Council members David A. Clarke and Nadine Winter. Other Kennedy slate members include Kristine Blackwood of the D.C. chapter of the National Organization for Women, and Hispanic activist Hilda Oliver.
Joining Bourne, who resigned his White House job in controversy over a falsified prescription he had written in 1978, and his wife, King, were Carter supporters R. Calvin Lockridge, new president of the D.C. School board; board member John E. Warren, and City Council member Wilhelmina J. Rolark.
Laverne D. Jackson, a Georgetown University Hospital nurse, was elected as a potential Carter delegate.She was supported by a large contingent of city nurses. She said nurses are tired of being the "sleeping giant" of the health-care industry.
The well-organized gays, in an effort to insure that some of their candidates were elected to the Kennedy slate, agreed to support a separate Kennedy slate that listed some of the strongest contenders, including Kane, Clarke and Winter, local NOW president Blackwood, Hispanic activist Oliver, and longtime party worker Peter M. Schott. Everyone on the homosexual-supported slates was elected.
Others also indulged in quiet slatemaking, despite protestations that the caucuses were supposed to offer a fair chance for anyone to run for delegate.
Most of the Carter delegate winners in the caucus for Wards 3, 4, 5 and 7 were listed on a slate hammered out by City Council members Polly Shackleton, Willie Hardy, Spaulding and Jarvis. A handbill asking caucus participants to vote for the slate was passed out at the door.
The National Women's Political Caucus ran slates in both the Kennedy and Carter subcaucuses. Kennedy delegate candidates met last week and worked out a slate of their own.
Almost invisible yesterday were supporters of California Gov. Edmund G. (Jerry) Brown Jr. He had a total of 31 backers citywide.
Organizers for both Kennedy and Carter praised the process as well-organized. There was little dissension or debate.
It was a marked contrast to the 1976 presidential campain in the District when rival slates of uncommitted delegates led by Fauntroy and then-mayor Walter Washington created bitter divisions within the party.
Yesterday's caucuses had an old-fashioned air to them, with results delayed by the laborious process of counting ballots by hand.
Delegate candidates were given two minutes to tell the assembled Democrats why they should be elected. "I hope everybody votes for me because I'm a hard worker and I really want to go to the convention," one women said. Her candidacy fell far short.