E. Brooke Lee Jr., a Washington-area realtor, yesterday declared his candidacy for the Republican nomination for mayor of the District of Columbia, pledging to fight crime and to reduce unemployment by persuading an old-boy network of former Harvard classmates to invest in Washington.
"I think you have to have a life of contacts to bring jobs to Washington," said Lee, 64, a former Scott Paper Co. executive and the brother of Blair Lee III, former acting governor of Maryland.
In a noontime campaign speech before about 60 Republicans at the Mayflower Hotel, Lee contended that ineffective leadership by Mayor Marion Barry, a Democrat, has permitted Washington to become the "crime capital of the world."
"High school classes are scared to come here in busloads in the spring because of the crime," Lee said. "We have crime aplenty, but very little action from the mayor's office. Commissions, yes, but action, no."
Lee promised that, if elected, he would crack down on street crime and drug pushers, while encouraging friends who are corporate executives to "send jobs to us" to help reduce unemployment.
He also said that in an effort to create additional jobs for D.C. residents he would encourage local cab companies to give U.S. citizens preference over foreign nationals for work as drivers.
"I'm tired of the fact that Iranians have driven the last three cabs I've been in," Lee said during the speech. "I was afraid I might be taken hostage . . . . I want every cab driver to be an American."
Lee yesterday became the second Republican to launch a campaign for mayor of Washington, where 75 percent of the registered voters are Democrats.
James E. Champagne, 38, a public affairs specialist and former speech writer for the Chrysler Corp., announced his campaign last Dec. 9, citing the city's accumulated deficit, rising crime rates and burdensome taxes as major issues.
Champagne said yesterday that a strong Republican candidate might stand a chance of winning the general election if the Democrats emerge hopelessly divided from a fractious primary.
But he maintained that Lee, who comes from a politically prominent and well-to-do Maryland family, would attract little support outside of what Champagne called "the country club set."
"He epitomizes what might be wrong with the Republican party in this city," Champagne said. "Republicans are more of a social club in the District. They do not address the issues that concern most Washingtonians."
Bob Carter, chairman of the D.C. Republican Party, who attended Lee's announcement, conceded that Lee "does come from a different segment" than previous GOP candidates. Carter said, however, that Lee "does articulate pretty well some of the problems of the District."
Lee, who maintains a home in Falmouth, Maine, claims his mother's house at 2340 Kalorama Rd. NW as his D.C. residence. He said that he and his wife, Camilla, have divided their time between Falmouth and Washington for many years.