If Republican Carol Schwartz is headed for her fourth consecutive defeat as a mayoral aspirant, she may soon look back on an event last week at her campaign headquarters as packing enough personal gratification to justify a fifth try.
Man and woman, black and white, young and old came forward in a seemingly endless procession of celebration and penance. Celebration, of course, of Schwartz and her contributions to her adopted home since 1966, and penance, by about half of those who spoke, for betraying her four years ago to vote for Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D).
The event was billed as "Democrats for Schwartz," a concept that in itself is not news, given that Schwartz has won three D.C. Council races with the word "Republican" by her name. Her party is outregistered, 10 to 1, by Democrats in the city. So clearly, she has long generated substantial cross-party appeal.
What was striking was the personal, almost intimate tone of the event. About 50 supporters crammed into the third floor of her Petworth headquarters building, which sports a rug with a burnt-orange hue that the Environmental Protection Agency may well have banned in 1974.
Speakers portrayed Schwartz as a friend and the city's potential savior if only voters would wake up, as speakers said they had, to the failings of that rascal Williams, who was described repeatedly as a snob, a carpetbagger, a callous bum. The testimony sounded remarkably like that offered by supporters of Anacostia minister Willie F. Wilson in the Democratic primary race, which Williams won by a 3-to-1 margin.
"I worked for Anthony Williams four years ago," said Lorraine Whitlock, a retired D.C. schoolteacher who lives in the Capitol View neighborhood in Ward 7, "and he has treated our community with total disrespect."
Some ranted. Some raved. Schwartz hugged each warmly and kissed a few. It was as if people, at least those in the room, finally understood what she had been saying about Williams, and herself, for four long years.
"You all are making me cry," she said, beaming and beginning to tear, after one of the testimonials.
But Schwartz, who in her three runs for mayor won 30, 33 and 42 percent of the vote, also let drop a piece of news suggesting that the revelations about Williams have not moved far enough beyond that room to make this latest race closer.
Before she launched her belated run, supporters of Schwartz conducted a poll. The results? She didn't give a number but described them as "very discouraging."
Candidate's Arresting Vow
Adam Eidinger, the D.C. Statehood Green Party nominee for "shadow" U.S. representative for the District in the Nov. 5 election, is taking aim at more than his Democratic opponent, first-term incumbent Ray Browne.
Eidinger, 29, has lent a spark to the race for a job as unpaid, nonvoting lobbyist for statehood in the House, vowing to organize nonviolent protests to bring attention to the District's lack of congressional representation. For example, the anti-globalization protest organizer-turned-candidate has vowed to lead a one-day general strike in the city and to crash the swearing-in of new voting House members in January until he is arrested.
He also said that if elected, he will ask Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) to place him on her congressional staff payroll. Such support is important because Congress bars the District's shadow representative and two shadow senators from receiving city funds, he said. If Norton declines, Eidinger said, he will ask that she split her $150,000 federal salary with him.
"If I'm elected, I will be fighting harder for the citizens than anyone else and be ready to go to jail," Eidinger said, adding that he would call on elected D.C. leaders to withhold federal income taxes as a protest.
Norton spokeswoman Doxie McCoy declined to comment Tuesday about Eidinger's plans.
"I don't think those actions he has suggested are going to bring national attention to this cause to justify the people taking that kind of step," said Browne, who has worked to assemble a dozen resolutions of support from city and state elected leaders around the country for D.C. congressional representation. "I'm talking about spreading the support base across the country."
Mayor's Aide Accused
It's been a tough run for the Rev. Carlton N. Pressley, the mayor's senior adviser for religious affairs, who joined the administration a mere eight months ago.
This month, a woman who worked for him under the auspices of the city's Office of Community Outreach, accused him of sexual harassment. The woman, who was not identified because of the nature of the allegation, has been assigned to another position, according to the mayor's office.
"This is an allegation of sexual harassment, and the allegation has been referred to the inspector general for review," said Tony Bullock, the mayor's spokesman. "It's up to the inspector general to determine what, if any, appropriate action will follow."
Bullock said that there has been no change in Pressley's employment status.
The allegations, first reported by WRC-TV (Channel 4) last week, were that the woman said Pressley threatened to fire her if she did not continue the relationship.
Pressley did not return telephone calls to his office and his home.
Gloria P. Johnson, spokeswoman for Inspector General Charles C. Maddox, confirmed that the mayor's office had referred the allegations to the IG's office, but she stopped short of saying an investigation had begun.
Pressley's name first surfaced in July as part of the scandal with the mayor's nominating petitions. Pressley circulated several sheets of petitions that included signatures dated from May, a month before he registered to vote, according to city records.
Only registered voters are allowed to collect signatures for candidates under city law. Bullock said at the time that most of the signatures gathered by Pressley were done properly.
Staff writer Yolanda Woodlee contributed to this report.