She campaigned all summer for D.C. mayor as the ultimate outsider, but now is moving swiftly to embrace the District's political and financial establishments. He spent 32 years inside D.C. government, but now casts himself as a populist at odds with the city's corporate and civic elite.
Midway between their nominating primaries and the Nov. 6 election, Democrat Sharon Pratt Dixon and Republican Maurice T. Turner Jr. are studies in contradictions, each fashioning a new and sometimes unusual strategy for the final three weeks of the campaign.
Meanwhile, both camps are experiencing internal problems. Dixon frequently has been overwhelmed by the crush of attention after her upset victory in the September primary. Turner is facing a considerable debt at the very moment he hopes to mount an advertising blitz to blunt Dixon's electoral advantage in the overwhelmingly Democratic city.
Both candidates also are beginning to hone their final election themes. Turner has in subtle and obvious ways injected the issues of sex and class into the campaign, saying Dixon would be a "soft" leader against crime and criticizing the $576,000 she received last year in salary and retirement benefits from Potomac Electric Power Co., her employer for 12 years.
For her part, Dixon has turned partisan in attacking Turner, a lifelong Democrat who joined the GOP last year at the urging of President Bush. She has characterized the election as a testing ground for conservative Republicanism, even though Turner says he disagrees with Bush and other national party leaders on such issues as abortion rights and D.C. statehood. Turner supports both.
While waging a rhetorical war against Turner, Dixon has maintained a feverish daily schedule trying to consolidate city Democrats and their traditional financial base.
In the process, she is beginning to forge ties with many key supporters of Mayor Marion Barry, her favorite target during the primary campaign. They in turn have courted Dixon, although many of them were aligned with D.C. Council member John Ray and other Dixon rivals in the five-way Democratic primary.
In an appearance earlier this month before the Black Presidents Roundtable Association, a group of minority entrepreneurs, Dixon tried to allay any fears that her pledge to "clean house" may have stirred. "It's not as bad as it sounds . . . . I'm not talking about walking away from folks because they happened to have had a political association" with the Barry administration.
After Dixon spoke, roundtable President Harrison Boyd said she had gone "a long way toward reassuring a lot of people that she's not just going to do away with people who have done business" with city government.
Another Dixon event, hosted by Dart Drug founder Herbert Haft, drew leaders of the local business, professional and cultural communities, including longtime Barry supporters such as real estate and restaurant magnate Ulysses "Blackie" Auger and William B. Fitzgerald Sr., the president of Independence Federal Savings Bank who has been the mayor's personal banker.
In a grandiose gesture to Dixon's ascendency to the top of the Democratic ticket, Fitzgerald knelt before her that evening and kissed her hand, according to a source.
Charles Day, an executive in the company that holds the major contract for the D.C. Lottery, said business leaders who did not support Dixon in the primary are "going to try to get on board" her campaign.
"They're attempting to move to her, and I'm sure she's going to listen to them," said Day, an early Dixon supporter. "But Sharon is a pretty smart young lady. She has sense enough to understand what those people are after and what they are looking for . . . . They're looking for an opportunity to get involved, where they can get some D.C. contracts and make some money."
R. Donahue Peebles, a developer and Barry ally who co-hosted a fund-raiser for Dixon in Southeast Washington last week, said Dixon's platform "is not anti-business, it's pro-business. It's pro-economic growth."
"I think that you'll find during the campaign, as she reaches out to expand her base, more and more business people gravitating toward her," said Peebles, whose corporate entities contributed $6,000 to Ray's campaign.
Turner has picked up a modest amount of support from former Ray supporters, including at least two people who oversaw the Democrat's ward organizations during the primary.
Stuart Bernstein, a local developer, is spearheading Turner's fund-raising drive, but several Republican sources said contributions have lagged far behind earlier projections. Turner reported last week that he had raised nearly $500,000 for the race, but listed debts of $177,000.
Turner, in the words of one senior adviser, is determined to "drive up Sharon's negatives" in the final phase of the campaign, in part through a series of aggressive radio and television commercials.
Other advisers said the campaign may not be able to afford a large purchase of air time, and instead may direct its resources to an extensive get-out-the-vote effort on Election Day.
Dixon, who said she raised $100,000 last week during a fund-raising trip to New York, plans to travel to Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, Oakland and perhaps Detroit before the election to raise money to offset a possible last-minute infusion of cash to Turner's campaign by national Republicans.
Dixon also said she has taken steps to ease the organizational problems inside her campaign that have irritated an increasing number of community groups and others competing for her time and attention.
The glitches have ranged from slighting some of her staunchest supporters to failing to provide others with information about her stands on issues. For example, Joel Odum, a Ward 3 activist, said it took a month before he was able to confirm a date for Dixon to speak to his organization. "I could probably get in touch with God quicker than I could her scheduling director,' Odum said.
Dixon attributed her campaign's slow response to problems inherent in any shoestring campaign that found itself suddenly triumphant after a grueling primary.
"To manage a campaign is to manage chaos," Dixon said. "There's only one way to measure a campaign, and that is whether you win."
Staff writer Linda Wheeler contributed to this report.