The envelope, please, for losers and winners in last week's District primaries. The Notebook's unscientific sampling of political also-rans and bright spots.
The biggest loser of all was Conventional Wisdom, which held until Election Day that there was no way Sharon Pratt Dixon could overcome John Ray's tremendous advantage in fund-raising, endorsements and public opinion polls.
The ol' C.W. was swept away in Dixon's come-from-behind victory in the Democratic mayoral primary, and fared no better in the Ward 6 council race, where four-term incumbent Nadine P. Winter was unseated by newcomer Harold Brazil in the Democratic primary.
The pitfall of believing the C.W. was exemplified by political pundit Mark L. Plotkin, who on primary eve declared in USA Today that there was an "inevitability" to Ray's winning. "I can't see a surprise," said Plotkin, who was far from alone in predicting a Ray victory.
Other losers on primary day included:
Ministers. Preachers and pastors have long been considered the equivalent of political ward bosses in District politics, but their influence was on the wane during the 1990 primary season. Even A. Knighton Stanley of Peoples' Congregational Church, the one prominent minister who stuck by Dixon, maintained an extraordinarily low profile of support until it appeared Dixon was pulling up in the polls.
The pastor who takes first place in the losing category this year is the Rev. Willie F. Wilson, the outspoken leader of Union Temple Baptist Church in Anacostia. Wilson endorsed Dixon early in the race, dropped from sight when she aired her blistering attacks on Mayor Marion Barry and then endorsed Ray at the very last minute, when it appeared the at-large D.C. Council member would coast to an easy victory in the primary.
George Augustus Stallings Jr., bishop of a breakaway Catholic congregation, also seemed to sway with the political winds. He first endorsed Walter E. Fauntroy, only to switch late in the game to Charlene Drew Jarvis, the D.C. Council member from Ward 4.
Labor. Officially, the local AFL-CIO stayed neutral in the race, but that couldn't hide the fact that most of the prominent labor leaders in town could not abide Dixon or her proposals to slash the District government work force.
It is difficult to single out any one labor leader as a big loser, since they all lost big, from police union hief Gary Hankins, who signed on early with Ray and unsuccessful D.C. delegate candidate Betty Ann Kane, to the officials of the American Federation of Government Employees, who tried to start a labor boomlet for Jarvis.
It would be remiss not to also point out the election-year antics of Ron Richardson, the golden-hearted chief of the Hotel and Restaurant Workers Union. Early on, Richardson endorsed Barry's abortive bid for reelection, then flirted with Jesse L. Jackson while the civil rights leader toyed with the idea of running. Finally, Richardson settled on Fauntroy, who despite more than two decades in local politics finished dead last in the mayoral primary.
Big Money. As usual, the developers and most of the other business leaders in town tried to guess the winner -- and got burned badly by betting on Ray. The Ray camp included real estate magnates such as Bill Calomiris, Richard Cohen and Stephen Goldberg, who plunked down tens of thousands of dollars on Ray's candidacy, and businessmen such as Roy Littlejohn and William Fitzgerald, who came out for Ray only when he seemed to be a sure winner.
Of course, in politics, there are no permanent friends and no permanent enemies, and many of the losers will be back again after a respectful period of mourning. In the meantime, here are political figures and ideas that seem to be riding high at the moment:
New Faces. With local politics so fluid this year, the city witnessed the refreshing emergence of a handful of younger, energetic candidates such as Donald M. Temple, Terry Lynch and others.
Temple, 37, did himself proud in his losing bid for D.C. delegate, while Lynch, 31, made a respectable showing in the primary for an at-large council seat. These candidates had little money but a lot of grit in their longshot campaigns, and it would be a shame if they fade from the scene.
Rent Control. No mere relic, rent control was a hot issue in the mayoral primary. With so many renters and apartment dwellers voting, was it just coincidence that two politicians who once opposed rent control -- Ray and Jarvis -- lost in the primary?
The D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics. Emmett H. Fremaux Jr. and his hard-working group of employees at the District Building kept news reporters -- and, more importantly, D.C. voters -- up to date with reams of data, analysis and even fancy maps in the weeks leading to the primary. The chaos of earlier elections now seems to be a thing of the past, and for that Fremaux & Co. deserve the city's thanks.