Mayor Marion Barry, who has studiously avoided taking sides in the mayor's contest, moved recently to intervene in another campaign, subtly signaling his support for Eleanor Holmes Norton in the race for D.C. Delegate to Congress.

Barry urged D.C. Council member H.R. Crawford (D-Ward 7) not to endorse council member Betty Ann Kane (D-At Large), who is competing with Norton for the Democratic nomination, according to D.C. political sources. Barry and many of his closest allies have made no secret of their dislike for Kane, one of the administration's most vocal critics in recent years.

Crawford, who reportedly had been set to back his longtime friend Kane, told his constituents at a ward picnic that they should vote for either Kane or Norton, a Georgetown University law professor and former chief of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Also, at a recent party at the Hyatt Regency Hotel sponsored by the American Federation of Government Employees Local 1975, Barry delivered a speech in which he appeared to urge the audience to vote for Norton, according to people who were there.

According to several sources, Barry indicated early in his speech that people should vote for Norton, but backtracked later, noting simply that Norton had been endorsed by organized labor.

But several people present said the clear impression left with the audience was that Barry is supporting Norton, and his remarks reportedly angered Joseph P. Yeldell, a former Barry aide who also is running for the delegate seat, who was in the audience.

Barry denied last week that he had endorsed Norton, saying that he was only pointing out that Norton had received AFGE backing.

"I haven't endorsed anybody," he said. "I've been in court. I just said that she was their candidate."

But another prominent local politician said "it is no secret that the mayor wants Eleanor Holmes Norton."

For Norton, the mayor's support is a decidedly mixed blessing. While Barry still commands a loyal following in parts of the city, in others he is anathema -- especially in Ward 3, where Norton and Kane are going head-to-head for white voters.

Candidates Quizzed on Drugs

Have any of the candidates for D.C. mayor ever used illegal drugs during their time in public service? And should past drug use disqualify a person from running for the city's highest elective office?

Those were two questions a panelist at a forum sponsored by the Ward 6 Democrats asked last week of three Democratic candidates who arrived on time for the event, D.C. Council member David A. Clarke, council member Charlene Drew Jarvis (Ward 4) and lawyer Sharon Pratt Dixon.

"I have never used it," said Dixon, adding that anyone who was a "regular abuser" should be disqualified from serving, "given the seriousness of this issue and the impact that it has upon the youth of the city."

"I have not used cocaine in my term of public office," Clarke said. Clarke declined to answer questions about the years before his holding office.

"I don't appreciate 'Have you ever . . . ' questions coming from the press," he told the audience. "I just think that if you ask so many 'Have you ever . . . ' questions, you're going to wind up with people who are either liars or very sterile people."

Jarvis pounced on Clarke's response, saying, "I have never used illegal drugs. You did not ask, 'Have I ever used cocaine?' Mr. Clarke answered he never used cocaine, and I want to be clear that you said 'illegal drugs.' I have never used any illegal drugs, not now and not before."

Clouds Over Shadows

While Jesse L. Jackson is continuing his push to fill one of the two shadow senator positions recently approved by the D.C. Council, Congress once again is making its disdain for the idea of statehood apparent.

The Senate Appropriations Committee voted last month to forbid the city to spend any money, federal or local, on the shadow senator positions, leaving it up to private individuals to raise the necessary money for the positions.

The House approved a similar measure earlier in the summer. The two bills are expected to be reconciled when Congress finishes work on the D.C. budget in September, but city officials are worried that the final language could be so restricitive that the Board of Elections and Ethics could be enjoined from certifying the results of the shadow elections.

The Mystery Rally

Council member Nadine P. Winter (D-Ward 6), who is seeking reelection, is warning of potential trouble at a rally she says is being planned by labor leader Ron Richardson and housing activist Terry Lynch in front of property she owns in Southeast Washington.

In a letter last week to Police Chief Isaac Fulwood Jr., Winter advised the chief that "given the unrest in the city today, you would need to prepare for the worst."

The trouble is Lynch and Richardson say they don't know what Winter is talking about.

"I think the woman has rocks in her head to come out with something so off the wall," Richardson said.

Winter said she heard about the purported demonstration secondhand from people who, she said, heard Lynch talking about it at a Capitol Hill party. She said she confronted Lynch about the matter recently outside the Greater Washington Board of Trade, and said he did not deny that a demonstration was planned.

Lynch, who is running for an at-large seat on the council, said he approached Winter "to say hello, and all of a sudden she started yelling at me, 'Don't come into my neighborhood!' "