A group of activists in Ward 2 is mounting a campaign to draft Abdusalam Omer, Mayor Anthony A. Williams's chief of staff, to challenge D.C. Council member Jack Evans (D) in next year's council race.
The idea was presented recently to Omer at a breakfast meeting at the Cosmos Club.
When asked about his response to a draft, Omer said he would not make the race.
"I'm not interested in running for an office," he said. "I'm not even thinking about it. I have a very nice job. I would not change anything in the world for this job. I have an opportunity to help this mayor and do things for the nation's capital, and I'm having a ball."
Evans, who had heard Thursday of a move to find someone in the Williams camp to challenge him, said he did not believe Omer would run.
"As we go into the election season, all kinds of rumors come to the forefront," Evans said. "From January to May, every activist in the ward will announce they're running. . . . Until someone gets into the race, that's all it is, rumors. We intend to run again and work hard to get elected."
Evans, who has held the Ward 2 council seat since 1991, ran for mayor last year. He won only one precinct in his ward, although he said his most recent poll shows he has a 75 percent approval rating. There have been no really strong challengers in his last two council campaigns, he said.
"We are already running for the Ward 2 council seat," he said.
Evans, who is chairman of the council's finance committee, has recently been an adversary of Williams (D) on the council. He was one of the most outspoken opponents of the mayor's effort to pay for bonuses for District government workers out of the city's tobacco settlement.
The activists who are working to launch the candidacy emphasized that the Williams administration had no hand in their decision to ask Omer to run. Nor are they taking Omer's initial no as final.
"He has just been approached," said Marilyn Groves, who attended the meeting at the Cosmos Club.
"He was stunned."
The activist group includes people who were on an independent committee that drafted Williams last year. Williams, who was then the city's chief financial officer, had said his political involvement would be limited to voting.
But three weeks after word of the draft movement became public, Williams announced that he would step down as chief financial officer and run for mayor.
Ward 2 group members have said they are optimistic that if enough support is shown and enough money raised, Omer, too, can be persuaded to leave his job, where he makes more than $125,000 a year.
"People are very excited about it," said Beth Solomon, who attended the meeting. "No one I've talked with has said they're not supportive. He has support among residents, labor, the business community, and he lives in the eastern part of the ward, which is underrepresented."
Solomon, who has considered running for the Ward 2 seat, said an Omer candidacy "is just a better idea."
A few weeks ago, when Omer celebrated his 46th birthday, she was a co-host of a surprise party that drew about 150 guests, including politicians, government officials and journalists.
Omer, who moved to the United States from Somalia in 1972, has worked in several government finance positions. A close friend of Williams, Omer served as chief financial officer for the school system and budget director for the city before he was tapped to fill the top spot on the mayor's staff.