D.C. City Council member Jerry A. Moore Jr., the one Republican on the council, is facing his first real intraparty opposition in 11 years. It comes from two disgruntled Republicans who contend that Moore talks, acts and votes like a Democrat.
Joseph Grano, 35, a onetime New York lawyer and Bronx teacher, and Clinton B. D. Brown, a 66-year-old retired federal tax lawyer, are challenging Moore in the Sept. 9 Republican primary.
Moore, 62, was first appointed to the council by president Richard Nixon in 1969, when Republicans controlled the White House and the District government. When Congress granted limited home rule to the city in 1974, Moore's seat on the council, was virtually guaranteed by a charter provision prohibiting any one party in this overwhelmingly Democratic town from holding more than two of the four at-large council seats.
In the six years during which the District has been electing council members and emerging gradually into big league, big city politics, Moore -- a Republican among Democrats, a minority within his own minority party -- has survived largely by playing on many sides and being many times to many people.
Moore has survived in the Republican Party while still getting along with the council's Democratic majority. He keeps the business community happy while maintaining his popularity with blacks, poor people and the city's influential church groups.
Moore's penchant for satisfying all sides has fueled the campaigns of both his rivals, who accuse him of being a closet Democrat and a puppet of the Metropolitan Washington Board of Trade.
"Rev. Moore introduced more bills than anybody else on council, and practically all of them were alley closings," Brown said, acknowledging that the incumbent is firmly entrenched in his seat. "He holds on to his little fiefdom by keeping his Board of Trade boys happy."
Grano said, "How can you revitalize the Republican Pary when the highest Republican official down there votes like a Democrat? He votes like a Democrat, and in the general election it's the Democrats who put him over the top."
"If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's a duck, and Jerry Moore is a Democrat," Grano said.
Moore replies only, "My record is open to anyone who wishes to evaluate it." He also says he will accept votes and campaign contributions from anyone who wishes to support him, Democrat or Republican, business leaders or average citizens. And he tosses atop his desk a copy of his campaign finance report, with 23 pages listing mostly $5 and $10 contributors.
In public, Moore boasts confidently, "I will win this election." At a community meeting at St. Francis Xavier Church in Southeast (Ward 7), Moore said, "I don't know if there are any Republicans in this room, but I do intend to win the Republican primary and on Nov. 4 everybody in this room can vote for me."
But many veteran political observers say that for the first time in his political life, Moore is running scared. There are only about 22,000 registered Republicans in the District, almost all of them in Ward 3, west of Rock Creek Park, and in some sections of Ward 2, like Dupont Circle and Foggy Bottom.
The race for the Republican nomination will be decided in those areas by the handful of Republicans, maybe fewer than 2,000 expected to vote in the primary.
Grano has blanketed the area with posters and fliers, and is mailing out a detailed position paper, mostly to historic preservationists who remember Grano for his fight to save the Rhodes Tavern, a District landmark, on its original site.
Grano is attempting to avoid the charge that he is a single-issue candidate by talking mostly about the city's budget crisis. He advocates a public referendum on Mayor Marion Barry's proposal to issue long-term bonds to help erase the city's expected $409 million accumulated deficit.
Instead of long-term borrowing, Grano pushes the idea of short-term borrowing and employe cutbacks. He told the forum at St. Francis Xavier, "Make the current officials be responsible for paying off the debts that they incur -- not your children."
Brown, vice chairman of the Chevy Chase Advisory Neighborhood Commission, is stressing Moore's ties to the business community and his own work with various citizens' groups.
Brown advocates a stronger historic preservation law, streamlining the D.C. bureaucracy, and strict rent control. He also criticizes Moore, chairman of the council's Transportation and Environmental Affairs Commitee, for the lack of adequate bus service in some parts of the city.
At a meeting of the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club in Northwest, Brown said of the city's bus system, "It's bad on Connecticut Avenue, and even worse on Wards 7 and 8."
Moore replied defensively, "We have one of the best public transportation systems in the United States of America. I have been working with that system now for about 11 years.
Both Grano and Brown criticize Moore for lacking specifics in his campaign advertisements and brochures. In the Uptown Citizen, a Ward 3 newspaper, Moore's half-page advertisement is headlined, "You Can Depend On Jerry Moore," and lists the names of 60 prominent supporters.
On the next page, Brown's advertisement -- in a direct parody of Moore's -- proclaims, "You can Depend on Clint Brown . . . Because He Tells You What He Stands For."
Grano is also hoping to capitalize on a widely publicized split in the D.C. Republican Party, in which Moore wound up on the losing side of a power coup.
But Moore has now switched sides and even lined up the endorsements of the more conservative, Ward 3 Republicans who took over the party's central committee.
Moore's ability to survive in the Republican Party is a classic illustration of how he has survived for most of his political career, by staying noncontroversial, making few enimies and staying in a position to switch sides.
Moore has also been able to survive with the Democratic majority controlling 11 of the 13 council seats. He has been able to carve out his own turf, as chairman of the committee on Transportation and Environmental Affairs, and he even enlisted five of his Democratic colleagues to endorse him when he announced his reelection campaign.
In two general elections, Moore, as the GOP nominee for the at-large seat, has been able to pile up large vote totals from Democrats, especially from black church groups.
Even on issues, Moore, pastor of the Nineteenth Street Baptist Church, has been able to play all sides. On some issues, particularly development and alley closings, Moore comes down on the side of the major developers, who have given handsomely to his campaign.
But on other issues, Moore sides with the poor and the working people. He vigorously opposed the recent 6 percent sales tax on gasoline as "taxation without representation" that would "sow the seeds of revolt" in the streets and "would take the food out of (poor people's) mouths and shoes from their children's feet."
As a minister, Moore has been able to keep his politically important ties to the church community by keeping true to the faith. He opposes legalized gambling and decriminalized marijuana, and he has introduced a bill to allow a "silent period" for prayer in D.C. public schools.
But Moore doesn't wear his religion on his sleeve. For instance, he votes with the council majority each year to declare Gay Pride Day.