John Ray, riding the crest of a record $1.1 million he has raised in his bid to become the D.C. Democratic mayoral nominee, launched a final burst of television commercials yesterday to blunt criticism of his stands on rent control and possible city tax increases.
Ray, who according to campaign finance documents filed yesterday has raised roughly three times the money of his nearest rival, is airing the commercials as part of a weeklong $100,000 advertising effort as he and four opponents race toward next Tuesday's party primary.
Meanwhile, rival Charlene Drew Jarvis, the second-leading fund-raiser who has collected nearly $414,000 for her campaign, is mounting a far more modest effort that includes television ads that attempt to portray Ray as a captive of real estate developers and a politician who "will raise taxes" if elected.
In the race for D.C. delegate, Eleanor Holmes Norton became the first candidate in the Democratic primary to launch an extensive television campaign. Norton's $67,000 effort is built around a largely biographical commercial stressing her Washington roots, service in the Carter administration and advocacy of civil rights.
Documents filed yesterday with the D.C. Office of Campaign Finance show that although the Democratic mayoral hopefuls have raised a collective total of more than $2 million in the primary race, most are down to their last dollars.
Ray, whose treasury swelled earlier this year with large contributions from nearly every segment of the region's real estate industry, filed an incomplete report with the city, but indicated he has raised at least $1.1 million, a record for a single candidate in a D.C. party primary.
Ray, an at-large D.C. Council member making his third attempt for the mayor's office, has spent the approximately $500,000 he had for the reporting period for the month of August, leaving him little cash on hand, an aide said.
Jarvis, the Ward 4 council member who is in her second campaign for mayor, reported having about $25,000 remaining.
D.C. Council Chairman David A. Clarke, who reported raising $392,603 for his campaign, had $16,320 left.
Sharon Pratt Dixon, a local lawyer in her first campaign for public office, raised $227,155 and had $11,138 remaining. Dixon also reported outstanding debts of more than $22,000.
Walter E. Fauntroy, who is relinquishing his seat as D.C. delegate to run for mayor, did not submit his financial disclosure by the time the campaign finance office closed yesterday.
Former D.C. police chief Maurice T. Turner Jr., who is unopposed for the Republican mayoral nomination, has raised $355,335 so far and has $16,323 remaining.
Ray, who has been criticized by Clarke and other rivals throughout the campaign for his support of 1985 legislation to phase out rent control in certain apartments, says in one of his new commercials that he "passed more laws to help tenants than any other council member."
"A John Ray administration will continue rent control," asserts the ad, which includes appearances by several Washingtonians who the Ray campaign said benefited from several of his pro-tenant proposals.
A second commercial features Ray speaking to a church congregation and announcing, "I want to assure the citizens of Washington there will be no increase in income or property taxes in a John Ray administration."
Ray's third new commercial shows him in a church pulpit, preaching a call for racial unity in Washington.
Jarvis, who in a televised debate last week accused Ray of "flip-flopping" on taxes, devotes one of her new commercials to the issue, saying, "Mr. Ray has indicated that he will raise taxes."
Ray has said repeatedly that he would consider increasing taxes -- except those on real property and personal income -- only after exhausting other steps to ease the District's financial crisis.
In the Jarvis commercial attacking Ray for accepting a host of large campaign contributions from developers, the narrator asks, "Who owns John Ray?" and a whispered voice replies: "Real estate developers."
"Who pumped hundreds of thousands of dollars into John Ray's campaign?" and "Who will John Ray work for as mayor?" elicit the same whispered response, while a roster of Ray's real estate contributions scrolls up the screen.
Jarvis reported yesterday that the John Akridge Co., a Washington building trades firm listed in the Jarvis commercial attacking Ray, gave her a $2,000 contribution last month. Bill Jarvis, who is managing his aunt's campaign, said there is "absolutely nothing wrong with people contributing to a candidate. The problem is the enormous investment that developers and other businessmen must feel they're making in John Ray."
Margaret Gentry, Ray's press secretary, said there was "a long list of events where Mr. Ray supported neighborhood rights and worked with communities to fight overdevelopment."
Gentry also said it was a "little troubling" that one of the Jarvis commercials appeared to distort Ray's position on taxes.
The fourth television spot features Jarvis chatting with Police Chief Isaac Fulwood Jr. and pledging to be "tough enough" to wage an aggressive effort against illegal drugs.
While Ray and Jarvis duel on television, several of the other candidates have purchased time on radio stations and cable TV to attract voter attention in the final six days of the primary campaign.
David E. Byrd, Dixon's campaign manager, said his office was receiving fresh contributions at a rate of about $7,500 a day, but added that it was unclear whether she would be able to afford any television advertising in the expensive Washington area market.
Clarke has concentrated his final efforts on direct mail and radio, while a Fauntroy spokesman said he intends to film a commercial today to be broadcast on cable television.