FORTY-FIVE DAYS from now, registered voters in the District's Democratic, Republican and D.C. Statehood Green parties will have a chance to vote for their parties' candidates for D.C. delegate and the D.C. Council. For certain officeholders, the Sept. 14 primary election will offer no contest. Incumbents Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) and Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) and Adrian M. Fenty (D-Ward 4) have no primary opponents, and unless an independent candidate with uncommon strength happens to emerge somewhere along the way, the three very popular and highly effective legislators are expected to cross the finish line in November without having to break a sweat.
No so with contests for the at-large council seat held by Harold Brazil (D) or the races in Wards 7 and 8 where Kevin P. Chavous and Sandy Allen, respectively, are seeking reelection. Veteran council member Brazil is facing a spirited challenge from newcomer Kwame Brown, who has walked away with key party endorsements that Mr. Brazil once enjoyed. Challenger Sam Brooks is also making a name for himself around the city. Mr. Brazil knows he is in a race, perhaps the race of his political life.
Ward 7's Mr. Chavous may not be as hard- pressed, but he, too, finds himself in a field of candidates eager to occupy his office. Chief among them is Vincent C. Gray, a former senior human resources official in Mayor Sharon Pratt's administration and currently head of a nonprofit organization. Mr. Chavous has an impressive campaign treasury and has been spending a lot of time in his ward going door to door -- the true sign of an incumbent with a race on his hands.
In Ward 8, a handful of candidates are seeking to unseat incumbent Sandy Allen. At this stage, Ms. Allen's principal challenger appears to be former mayor Marion Barry, who also has occupied the Ward 8 seat. This could be one of Mr. Barry's toughest races. Ms. Allen is running with the strong backing of the Rev. Willie F. Wilson, one of Mr. Barry's most loyal supporters and his spiritual adviser, and of several other ministers in Ward 8. In addition Ms. Allen has built a record of service that Mr. Barry may find difficult to overcome, especially since she has an organization and he appears to have lost a step or three and many of his key supporters.
The Republican and Statehood parties have tamer contests to offer. At-large incumbent Carol Schwartz has two opponents who have filed petitions. The D.C. Statehood Green party may field unopposed candidates in the At-large and Ward 7 primary contests. Both parties are swamped by Democratic voter registration, with Republicans tallying 26,904 voters, or 7.6 percent of the city's registered voters, to the Democrats' 265,975, or 75.6 percent of those registered. Independents are the city's second-largest group of voters at 53,151, or 15.1 percent. The Statehood Green party, with 4,780 members, or 1.4 percent of the voters, hardly makes the radar screen. These low party registration numbers are of great significance to Mrs. Schwartz, who, as a Republican and protected by the Home Rule Act, will only have to face a Statehood Green or an independent opponent in November. So the principal local politically partisan action may be the September primary, which is only 61/2 weeks away.