With just nine days remaining before the Sept. 9 D.C. City Council primary elections, the battle for the Republican nomination for an at-large Council seat has boiled down to basics: identifying voters and getting them to the polls.

Incumbent Jerry A. Moore, Jr. and his chief opponent, Joseph N. Grano, have moved beyond the stage of rhetoric and are now focusing on precincts, neighborhoods and individual voters.

Moore, a Baptist minister and Council member for 11 years who is facing his first serious challenge, spent part of the muggy afternoon yesterday walking door-to-door in neighborhoods off Wisconsin Avenue, while Grano, a lawyer seeking public office for the first time, passed out campaign brochures at a Chevy Chase-area supermarket.

It is no accident that both locations are in Ward 3, the affluent, mostly white area of the city west of Rock Creek. Around 9,000 of the city's 22,000 registered Republicans live there, and Ward 3 is considered crucial by both candidates.

"Ward 3 is the anchor," said Moore. "You have to do well in Ward 3 to win."

Moore is running a well-packed and well-financed campaign designed to capitalize on his name recognition as the District's highest-ranking GOP official. His long tenure in local politics has won him the backing of a long list of prominent local Republicans, with a few key Democrats -- like veteran Ward 3 City Council member Polly Shackleton -- thrown in for good measure. w

"If you accept the proposition, as many people have for a long time, that Ward 3 goes the way Polly goes, then Jerry Moore wouldn't seem to be in trouble," said Pat Belcher, an Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner in the estate-rich Forest Hills area just south of Military Road.

Grano, on the other hand, does not have the money, the large-scale organization, or the endorsements that Moore boasts. But Grano is relying on his blanket mailings to Republican voters, his extensive personal campaigning (primarily in Ward 3) and a hard-core of dedicated volunteers mostly drawn from the city's active historic preservation movement.

A third Republican candidate, Clinton B. D. Brown, is also a preservationist, but said that most preserationists had already signed with Grano. Brown, who said he at one time expected "the ordinary citizen" to form his campaign organization, said in frustration yesterday, "You can't depend on the ordinary citizen because the ordinary citizen is too damn lazy to get out and so anything."

"This business is being run by professionals," Brown said.

Moore has a Conneticut Avenue campaign office with two paid staff workers, and a bank of six telephones which he hopes to use to contact each of the city's 22,000 Republicans before election day.

With a potential electorate as small as that of the D.C. Republican Party, candidates can afford to take the personal approach. Moore says he plans to mail brochures and a letter this week to each of the nearly 10,000 Republicans who voted in the May 6 presidential primary.

Moore said he planned to lead at least one campaign motorcade, routed primarily through Ward 3. His effort in the rest of the city will be limited primarily to campaign signs, he said, in addition to the mailings and telephone calls to Republicans.

Moore has won the backing of both recognized factions of the D.C. Republican Party -- the party leadership ousted in the May 6 primary, to which Moore is closely allied, and the Committee to Rebuild the D.C. Republican Party, an older, monied group based solidly in Ward 3 that now controls the local party structure.

It is this kind of support, along with backing by the Greater Washington Board of Trade, the city's largest business organization, that Moore hopes to translate into the "word of mouth" campaigning needed to win Ward 3.

Moore said he has identified key precincts in which he must do well to win. All are in Ward 3 -- Precinct 28, near Glover Archbold Park; Precincts 30 and 31 near American University; and Precincts 50 and 51 near Chevy Chase Circle.

All are traditionally among the highest in the city in GOP voter turnout. Moore's door-to-door walk yesterday took him through parts of Precinct 28, and he said he plans to walk the others as well.

Moore said he has not yet decided whether to invest in radio advertising. He said he has not yet developed firm plans for his get-out-the-vote effort, but he predicted he would have vans and cars available to take voters to the polls.

Grano has been running his shoe-string campaign with less than $5,000 and a core of about 15 dedicated volunteers. They have blanketed Ward 3 with his flyers, addressed the envelopes for his latest mailing, and would use their home telephones to contact likely Republican voters beginning next week.

Grano volunteers are mostly the preservationists, who remember Grano as the leader of the fight to save 200-year-old Rhodes Tavern on its original downtown site. Grano and the preservationists lost that fight when the council, following the lead of Moore's committee, voted to give the alley behind the building to developer Oliver T. Carr.

But the preservationists have now made Grano's campaign their cause celebre, and also see the election as a referendum on some previous Moore-sponsored alley closings that have opened the way to new construction.

"Developers only see (the preservation movement) as little old ladies in tennis shoes screaming and yelling," said Charlotte Burk, a Dupont Circle preservationist who switched her registration to Republican and has worked in Grano's campaign. "There's a lot more sophistication to it."

Grano is hoping to capitalize on the antideveloment theme by campaigning in the Spring Valley and American University Park areas of Ward 3. Residents there are upset at the construction of a six-story office building at 48th Street and Massachusetts Avenue on the site of the old 950-seat Apex Theater.

The theater was demolished in late 1976, after Moore's committee closed the alley behind the movie house.

AU Park residents have complained that the building harms the character of their neighborhood of detached single-family homes and low-lying two-story shops along Massachussets Avenue.

In the May 6 Republican primary, the precincts in that neighborhood -- pricincts 30, 31 and 9 -- had Republican voter turnouts among the highest in the city. A total of 700 Republicans voted in those three princincts on May 6 -- just about 300 short of the total number Grano needs to win, based on his assumption that only 2,000 Republicans will vote this time.

"I ask them what they think of that building over there," Grano said, describing his typical walk through Spring Valley. "They say 'it's horrible, it's ugly' and I say you know who's responsible for it -- Jerry Moore is responsible for it."

Grano said he is targeting his campaign to the rank-and-file Republican -- not the party leadership, which has sided with Moore. He said he stresses his traditional Republican conservative economics, and what he terms his mainline Republican position in favor of tax incentives for new businesses, a tougher stance on juvenile crime and repeal of rent control.

Brown, on the other hand, said "Joe (Grano) talks in the same old cliches that have goten the Republican Party in trouble. I'd like to see the Republican Party come out and stand for the people."

Brown, who said he is a "moderate Republican," advocates lower fares for buses and subways and longer hours for the city's public libraries. He is conveying his message through advertisements in three Ward 3 newspapers, at public forums, and by telephoning registered Republicans from his home, with the help of about a dozen old friends and supporters.

The only other hotly-constested race in the primary is the battle for the Democratic nomination in Ward 7 between realtor H. R. Crawford, congressional aide Johnny Barnes, and school board employe Emily Y. Washington.

Incumbent Democratic at-large council member John Ray, 36, is opposed by Raymond W. Powell, a 55-year-old business consultant. Incumbent John A. Wilson is unopposed for the Democratic nomination in Ward 2. On the GOP side in that ward, free-lance writer Ann Kelsey Marshall, 29, also is unopposed.

In Ward 4, both Democratic incumbent Council member Charlene Drew Jarvis, 39, and GOP candidate Israel Lopez, a retired D.C. government employe are unopposed. Incumbent Wilhelmina J. Rolark, 63, a lawyer, is janitorial firm, is unopposed in the Ward 8 GOP primary. In the Ward 7 Republican contest, John West, a 47-year-old contractor, is unopposed.