A who's who of black business in Washington boosted the candidacy of Democratic mayoral hopeful John Ray yesterday with an impressive show of support and promises of financial contributions in time for the Sept. 11 primary election.

As the District's Democratic chairman issued an appeal for a less personal tone in the campaign leading up to the party's mayoral primary, candidates Walter E. Fauntroy and Charlene Drew Jarvis lambasted Ray for accepting the backing of the minority business owners, several of whom have forged strong ties to the Barry admiistration and hold long-term contracts from city government.

More than 250 people from virtually every segment of the District's minority business community attended a luncheon in Ray's honor yesterday at the Howard Inn, and while not every guest was a Ray supporter, the event was a timely and powerful display of fund-raising potential.

"I have never seen so many heavy hitters, so many key black business people, together in one room in quite some time," said Pedro Alfonso, president of Dynamic Concepts Inc. and one of the luncheon speakers. "The statement we made by having so many people went beyond our expectations."

Alfonso said in an interview that key figures in the business group will hold a major fund-raiser for Ray in two weeks at the Four Seasons Hotel. William B. Fitzgerald, the president of Independence Federal Savings Bank, who sat next to Ray at lunch, will act as chairman of the event, Alfonso said.

Roy Littlejohn, a major city contractor who was master of ceremonies for the luncheon, and former city administrator Elijah B. Rogers, who also attended the event yesterday, are the other principal organizers of the Four Seasons fund-raiser, Alfonso said.

The presence yesterday of those and other figures with close links to Mayor Marion Barry drew unusually harsh criticism from Jarvis and Fauntroy, who are trailing Ray in fund-raising and in voter surveys.

Fauntroy, who in recent weeks has attacked Ray for accepting large contributions from suburban developers, said the show of support for Ray by District-based business executives "completes the circle of cronyism and greed."

"The same people who got Marion Barry in trouble are at it again," Fauntroy said in an interview. "They are controlled by greed, not the needs of the people. The potential for contracting abuse will exist again."

Fauntroy campaign manager Robert L. Johnson described the group suporting Ray as "government-contract leeches." Johnson said he felt "double-crossed" by the group because his company, Black Entertainment Television, spent $18,000 last month on a voter poll that many in the group studied before endorsing Ray's candidacy.

"They saw John Ray looking like a winner, and then got out front to support him," Johnson said. "They said, 'I've got government business; I've got to go with a winner.' "

Jarvis, saying she was unwilling to concede any vote to Ray, stood in the lobby of the Howard Inn before lunch and shook the hand of many of the guests, while criticizing the alliance between some of them and Ray.

"The power brokers are not going to determine this election," Jarvis said. "This is a small cadre of people who want to control city government and its contracting."

Earlier in the day, Jarvis appeared with several labor union officials in Southeast Washington for the ceremonial filling of a pothole, "an example of the deep hole we are digging for Mr. Ray," she said.

David Schlein, a Jarvis supporter and a national vice president of the American Federation of Government Employees, which represents about 5,000 city workers, said, "We want a mayor who will take a hard look at what's contracted out in this city, not a mayor who will be in the contractors' pocket."

Ray spokeswoman Margaret Gentry disputed the statements by Fauntroy and Jarvis, saying, "Mr. Ray can't be bought. Anybody who knows him and has worked with him knows that he is his own man."

As the verbal attacks in the Democratic campaign intensfied yesterday, party chairman Joslyn N. Williams warned that the "bitter personal attacks" of recent days could make the mayoral nominee vulnerable in the November general election.

In a letter to the candidates, who also include D.C. Council Chairman David A. Clarke and lawyer Sharon Pratt Dixon, Williams said, "In the heat of the primary campaign many words that are uttered can come back to haunt us in November."

But the hostilities continued at a forum last night at the Frank D. Reeves Municipal Center, where Jarvis declared, "I am not the candidate of developers, as is Mr. Ray." When Ray's turn to speak came, he reminded Jarvis that many of the development projects she has criticized for not serving the average District resident were approved by the D.C. Council's Housing and Economic Development Committee, of which she is chairwoman.

Shortly after that exchange, Ray, who arrived late, said he had to leave for another engagement. After he departed, Jarvis told the crowd, "I could have predicted Mr. Ray would come late and leave early. I suggest that if he is not here before the election to answer your questions, he will not be here after the election."

Clarke then chastised Jarvis, saying, "I do think we have to be fair and should note that candidates do have to go to other events. I was present {at a forum} last night and I waited for your arrival for an hour."

Staff writer Michael Abramowitz contributed to this report.