City officials said yesterday they have raised $19,000 to renew the drive to ratify the D.C. Voting Rights Amendment--a long-dormant campaign that recently got a boost when Maine and West Virginia became the 11th and 12th states to approve the document.
Hoping to capitalize on the recent momentum, Mayor Marion Barry, City Council Chairman David A. Clarke, council member Jerry A. Moore Jr. (R-At Large) and D.C. Del. Walter E. Fauntroy pledged to press hard this year to win additional support from state legislatures, through letter-writing and personal lobbying.
"We're on track--we're optimistic," Barry said at a reception in his District Building office to honor representatives of Maine and West Virginia.
Clarke added that while "it's no secret there's been a lull" in ratification drive, "we have a new burst of energy."
The proposed constitutional amendment, which was passed by Congress in 1978, would give the District voting representation in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, provided that an additional 26 states ratify the document before an August 1985 deadline.
Fauntroy, the District's lone, nonvoting member of Congress, said "it's a moral outrage" that D.C. residents have been denied voting representation on Capitol Hill.
Some supporters of the amendment acknowledged that they had been too timid in lobbying state legislatures in the past, reluctant to force votes unless they were certain of winning. Recently they adopted a more aggressive strategy, convinced they will have more success in combatting opposition and dispelling erroneous notions about the amendment by forcing debate and votes.
"We intend to bring up votes even when we think we'll lose," said Mary Jane DeFrank, executive director of Self Determination for D.C., a coalition supporting ratification of the amendment.
In discussing the uphill battle to win ratification, Barry said that many opponents know little about the District.
"There's a view that we're all federal employes on the federal payroll," Barry said. "A lot of opposition is philosophical. There's a reluctance to give voting rights to an area that's considered too liberal and too black."
In an effort to breathe new life into the ratification drive, Barry helped sponsor a fund-raising breakfast last January that drew about 150 businessmen, lawyers and office holders. Yesterday, the organizers of that event said the breakfast grossed about $19,000.