Leaders of the D.C. Republican Party rallied in support of incumbent City Council member Jerry A. Moore Jr. yesterday and criticized his chief opponent in the Sept. 11 party primary, former District school board member Carol Schwartz.
The Republicans called a press conference at the Capitol Hill Club after published reports that Schwartz and Bob Roehr, a candidate who withdrew from the race Tuesday, had both said "they would rather see the party lose its only seat on the council than to have a Republican so closely linked to the Democrats."
During public forums, Schwartz and Roehr charged that Moore, the only Republican on the 13-member City Council, had failed to aggressively represent Republican views and questioned why a true Republican would be endorsed by prominent Democrats, as Moore has been.
But both Schwartz and Roehr, who endorsed Schwartz after he withdrew from the race, denied saying that they would prefer to see the party lose the seat than to see Moore reelected. "I never said anything like that," said Schwartz. "I'm a Republican and I will support the nominee of the party."
The race for the at-large council seat held by Moore has been one of the most hotly contested this fall. With only five days remaining before the Sept. 11 primary, local Republicans are endorsing Moore in radio ads and Schwartz volunteers are trying to whittle away the edge that traditionally comes with incumbency.
Schwartz maintains that she will defeat Moore and go on to win in the November general election. She maintains that she, too, has strong support from Republicans and that she could also "call a press conference and have people praise me."
In addition to Schwartz, John West, a businessman and former alternate delegate to the GOP convention, is challenging Moore.
At yesterday's press conference, Ann Heuer, chairman of the D.C. Republican State Central Committee, said that she had been "angered and insulted" by the statement attributed to Schwartz and Roehr in a Washington Times article.
"My concern is that she Schwartz doesn't promote or provide a very strong program," said Heuer. "She just says, 'I'm going to be the big voice on the council .' "
Other Republican state committee representatives called Moore an effective leader and "a calming influence" on the City Council.
Robert Carter, the former Republican state committee chairman, said that Schwartz had not been active in the local Republican Party while Moore had been a consistent worker and a supporter of the party's candidates. "I don't think it serves the party well to come in when it serves your own purpose," he said of Schwartz.
In response, Schwartz pointed out that she had been working as a school board member and was vice chairman of the local party's delegation to the 1980 Republican convention. "My Republican credentials are immaculate," she said.
John A. Nevius, a member of the City Council in the days when its members were appointed and an active member of Moore's campaign staff, said during the press conference that even if Schwartz defeated Moore in the primary, she would not have "a snowball's chance in Hades" of winning in the November election. "Democrats control who gets elected in this city," he said.
Nevius said Democrats obviously prefer Moore, since he has been successful in three at-large races. Schwartz, on the other hand, has never been tested in an at-large race, Nevius said.
Schwartz disagreed, saying that people will vote for her because of her experience on the school board.