The presidential campaign in the District is beginning to take shape.

Last week, Democratic candidate Paul Simon became the first candidate to personally appear at a kickoff announcement for District delegates to the national convention in Atlanta.

During the weekend, D.C. Council member Betty Ann Kane (D-At Large) announced her support for Michael S. Dukakis, becoming the second member of the city's legislature to back the Massachusetts governor. Council member Jim Nathanson (D-Ward 3), a native of Massachusetts, earlier endorsed Dukakis.

Supporters of Jesse L. Jackson, who again will have the backing of Mayor Marion Barry and Del. Walter E. Fauntroy (D-D.C.), have yet to announce their committee. Jackson is regarded by many politicians as the overwhelming favorite, with Simon and Dukakis competing for second place in getting a share of the District's 24 delegates to the Democratic National Convention. The delegate election will be May 3.

Kane's support for Dukakis was announced Saturday morning during a news conference in which Dukakis supporters sought to fill out their citywide list of backers.

The campaign, however, so far has failed to win the public support of D.C. Council member John A. Wilson (D-Ward 2), who has been considering joining the Dukakis campaign. Wilson privately has expressed concern that the campaign appears to have too few blacks in prominent roles.The Campaigns for Council

Tom Chorlton, editor of the District Council Journal, former Peace Corps volunteer and longtime gay rights activist, is scheduled to announce his candidacy today for an at-large seat on the council.

Chorlton, a veteran of the Democratic Party, switched last year to the D.C. Statehood Party as part of a plan to run in the general election this November against incumbent Republican Carol Schwartz.

Chorlton said his campaign would address a broad range of issues, including housing and unemployment, transportation, drug abuse, health care and "true home rule: statehood."

Chorlton so far is unopposed on the Statehood primary ballot for September.

Schwartz, who has said she expects to run again, likely will not face serious opposition in the Republican primary, political observers say. A former school board member, Schwartz was first elected to the council in 1984 when she successfully challenged then-incumbent Jerry A. Moore in the Republican primary and then went on to defeat his substantial write-in effort that November.

William P. Lightfoot, a Washington lawyer and former head of the city's cable commission, also is campaigning for the at-large seat. Lightfoot, also a former Democrat, is running as an independent.

The presence of Schwartz, Chorlton and Lightfoot could set up an interesting and lively council campaign in November, taking some of the focus away from the Democratic primary in September.

Lightfoot and Chorlton likely would have run in the Democratic primary except for a quirk in the city's election law. To ensure some political diversity in this overwhelmingly Democratic city, Congress wrote in the Home Rule Charter a provision that effectively limits the majority party to holding two of the four at-large seats.

One of those two seats is held by Kane, who is not up for reelection, and the other is held by Democrat John Ray. Ray already is running hard for reelection this year. No challenger so far has announced against him, although he is not considered home free.

The fourth at-large seat is held by veteran Statehood Party member Hilda H.M. Mason, whose term is not up until 1990.

Challenger to Fauntroy?

Jeffrey Kraskin, an optometrist who is active in the Democratic Party in Ward 3, said this week that he is preparing a campaign for the District's lone delegate seat in the House. Kraskin said he would try to get 2,000 signatures to place his name on the ballot for the May 3 primary. Kraskin said he felt Fauntroy's position could be better used and that District voters have forgotten how important the job could be. "I want to begin a dialogue . . . on the importance of the position," Kraskin said. Fauntroy has been the only elected delegate from the District. Purging Voters

The D.C. Board of Elections announced this week that it plans to purge 8,959 names -- or about 3.5 percent -- from the voter rolls. All of the names are those of people who have not voted in a District election since 1984. Each of the registered voters is being sent an official notice. To remain registered, a voter must return the notice within 30 days. Registering Voters

Local Commitment thinks it has a way to increase voter registration in the District. The fledgling organization is asking Mayor Barry to allow voter registration when a person signs up for a driver's license.

Mark L. Plotkin, head of the group, said the mayor could issue an administrative order to do it this year while legislation will be sought to make it permanent.