Three Republicans hoping to succeed Walter E. Fauntroy as the District's nonvoting delegate to the House of Representatives are battling for the GOP nomination in the Sept. 11 primary election. The three are Harry M. Singleton, who is running with the endorsement of the D.C. Republican Party, Jim Champagne and Roffle Mayes Miller Jr. Fauntroy, a Democrat, is giving up his House seat to run for D.C. mayor. The following are profiles of the three Republican candidates. In coming weeks, the District Weekly will profile the Democratic candidates for D.C. delegate.
There's a partially built puzzle of Mickey Mouse in the front room of Jim Champagne's home, symbolizing what this renegade Republican hopes to change if he succeeds Walter E. Fauntroy as the District's nonvoting delegate to Congress.
Champagne, a political consultant, says he doesn't want to get hung up on what he describes as the District's unsophisticated, "Mickey Mouse" political process. Instead, he wants to focus on issues and specific goals, including gaining a vote for the delegate on the House floor.
"People tend to forget that D.C. is a very unsophisticated political animal," said Champagne, who faces Harry M. Singleton and Roffle Mayes Miller Jr. in the Sept. 11 Republican primary. "It's very young."
Champagne, a former high school teacher, is attempting to buck the local GOP, which has endorsed Singleton.
Champagne is sometimes accused of being a closet Democrat because he is courting organized labor, favors abortion rights and endorses a national health insurance program.
But Champagne, who ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 1982 and for the D.C. Council in 1988, characterizes himself more as an ideas man. He's confident that the ideas he has about some of the major problems in this city will set him apart from the other nine delegate candidates.
Champagne is running uphill, and he blames the news media for some of his problems.
"The media has played an inordinately larger role in D.C. politics than anywhere else," he said. "And unfortunately, the media doesn't focus on what the candidates are saying about issues."
Instead, he said, the media are more occupied by personalities. And they create their own favorites, he said, such as D.C. Council member Betty Ann Kane and law professor Eleanor Holmes Norton, two Democratic candidates in the delegate race.
"It's very difficult to run as a candidate who has something to say about the issues when . . . the media has appointed its own chosen candidates without giving the voter an opportunity to make an intelligent decision based on what that candidate stands for," Champagne said.
He dismisses the Democratic race for delegate as nothing more than candidates "taking potshots at each other." Kane and Norton, for example, are getting into a "cat fight," he said, which is creating ill will between the two factions.
"I think an intelligent, moderate Republican with some solid views on issues facing all Washingtonians can attract the supporters of those Democratic candidates who have lost," he said.
This, coupled with votes from the 33,000 registered independents in the District, some of whom might be attracted by GOP mayoral candidate Maurice T. Turner Jr., just might be enough to win it for him, Champagne said.
Champagne says he has four goals:Getting the District a vote in Congress, rather than seeking D.C. statehood. "I've talked to members of the Virginia congressional delegation, to the Maryland congressional delegation . . . to senators on the Hill from both sides of the aisle . . . and there is virtual unanimous consent that getting a vote for the D.C. delegate on the House floor is politically doable." Not true for statehood, he said. Currently, the D.C. delegate can vote only in committee. Participating in a debate for some form of national health insurance. "The availability of quality health care should be a priority," he said.
Taking a new approach to the drug crisis. "We have to view drugs as a global problem . . . not just a Washington problem," he said. " Controlling District spending. "We have a population of 600,000 people and we have a budget of $3.5 billion," he said. "I think something is clearly out of whack with the way we spend our money." -- Carlos Sanchez
Roffle Mayes Miller Jr., 38, a general contractor and native of Kansas who came here in 1986, acknowledges that he is not the "so-called front-runner" in the Republican primary for D.C. delegate, but said he has a campaign strategy with which he intends to win anyway.
Washington has only about 26,000 Republicans on the voting rolls compared with 226,000 registered Democrats. But Miller said his campaign is targeting an even smaller group of voters. They are the approximately 5,000 city residents who have voted in the last two Republican primaries.
Miller, who said his political roots go back to his junior high school days in Kansas, said he has set as a goal going to see every one of those 5,000 voters: a program with an aim of contacting about 600 voters a week, at three minutes a visit.
The strategy, he said "appears to be working out," and at the very least, he said, he is finding the voters intrigued by the attention.
Miller, who views himself as a citizen candidate, has never held office here, but said he has "been involved in campaigns for a long time." He held Republican Party posts at the city and county levels in the Portland, Maine, area when he lived there. In 1978, he said, he was the first black delegate to the Maine Republican Party's state convention.
In part, he said he is running in the primary against Champagne and Singleton "to say some things that need to be said." Current leaders, he asserted, "haven't solved our problems . . . . " Identifying one of the city's main problems as economic development, he contended that current leadership has no idea how to bring it about.
Among Miller's proposals is establishment of a grass-roots development fund to which city residents could contribute one dollar a week to generate money for minority enterprises.
Miller was born and reared in Lawrence, Kan. While in junior high school, he said, he was intrigued by politics and interested in the campaign paraphernalia a friend showed him. He studied political science at the University of Kansas, but left without a degree.
Later, hoping to finish college, he moved to Boston, where a brother was in law school. Finding Boston uncongenial, he said, he eventually moved north to Maine, where he had friends. After spending time in a bank's management training program, then working for International Business Machines Corp. and 3M, Miller said, he eventually went into real estate management and development.
His firm here, the Roffle M. Miller Co., does renovations and commercial work.
Miller said his campaign is emphasizing issues. While not a supporter of D.C. statehood, he said, he does support full voting representation in Congress for the city, as well as city control over its own budget and the election of judges and prosecutors. He also said he would like to shift spending allocations in the war on drugs to emphasize treatment over enforcement.
Initially Miller sat on the political sidelines, he said, wishing to pay his dues, but this year's race was one he could not pass up.
While veteran politicians "think they are the only ones with rights to leadership," they are out of touch and it is "time for a citizen in touch with everyday people to come out and be a leader," he said. -- Martin Weil
Harry M. Singleton, a Yale-trained lawyer who held a sub-Cabinet level job in the Reagan administration and also has been a high-ranking member of the House District Committee staff, says his record makes him uniquely qualified among the candidates running for D.C. delegate.
"There's no candidate running with the experience and background I have," said Singleton, 41, a lobbyist and consultant who was a Commerce Department official before serving as assistant secretary of education for civil rights from 1982 to 1986.
If elected to the nonvoting delegate post, Singleton said, he would be ready to "hit the ground running" to help pull the city out of what he calls its current crisis.
Singleton, who has the backing of the city's Republican Party in the Sept. 11 primary against Champagne and Miller, said he has never sought elective office before. But politics has always been in his blood, and he entered the race because of a "burning desire to get involved," Singleton said.
He said he wants "to try to make a difference" in the city where he operates a business, owns a home and is raising a son and daughter who attend the public schools.
As delegate, he said, he would transform what he contends has been largely a figurehead position. He said he would offer more constituent service, fight to win the city a vote in Congress and take a strong hand in solving the city's problems.
Singleton said he would serve as a catalyst to bring together city and federal officials, and would in particular strive to see that the city obtained all available federal funds.
In the area of education, for example, he said, "It is clear to me that D.C. is not getting all the money it is entitled to . . . . There are entitlement programs just sitting there. Some are educational program dollars we badly need."
More broadly, he said the delegate could help bring together the resources available here that could make Washington a model city for the nation with innovative programs across the board.
"There's a lot of power" inherent in the delegate post if the occupant devotes himself to city problems, he said.
Singleton was born in Meadeville, Pa., studied political science and economics as an undergraduate at Johns Hopkins, then obtained a law degree at Yale. Afterward, he worked at Houston & Gardner, a pioneering black law firm with deep roots in the civil rights movement, with the Federal Trade Commission and at Covington & Burling, a high-powered downtown law firm.
Later, he joined the House District Committee staff, working for the late Rep. Stewart McKinney (R-Conn.). From 1979 to 1981, Singleton was chief minority counsel and staff director.
In 1981, he became deputy assistant secretary for congressional affairs in the U.S. Department of Commerce, and the next year became Education Secretary Terrell Bell's assistant secretary for civil rights.
Congressional liberals who appeared dissatisfied with Reagan administration efforts at enforcing the civil rights laws made Singleton a target of some of their criticism.
But in his memoirs, Bell said it was the Justice Department that "was determined to weaken enforcement," and Singleton said in an interview that "I was glad I was there to do the best job I could under those circumstances." Critics, he said, "have no way of knowing the lumps I took behind the scenes."
After leaving the Education Department, he opened Harry M. Singleton & Associates, which provides lobbying and consulting services for businesses owned by minorities and women, and for historically black colleges and universities.