Due to a typographical error it was incorrectly reported in yesterday's Washington Post that Hilda Mason defeated Barbara A. Sizemore in the special city council election by 68 votes. The correct figure is 683.
D.C. City Councilman Douglas E. Moore has surprisingly surfaced as the man to beat in next year's elections for City Council chairman, and some of Moore's staunchest foes are clearly worried because they are not quite sure how they can stop him.
Moore's emergence as a serious threat in the early political jousting is somewhat baffling. It was only months ago the many city politicians, businessmen and political observers had considered the 49-year-old controversial Methodist minister all but finished in District politics.
After leading the field of at-large candidates in 1974, Moore had several well-publicized scrapes with law enforcement officials and fell into strong disfavor with his Council colleagues. Last January, he was removed as chairman of the Council's budget committee and also ousted as Council chairman pro tempore. His cries of unfair treatment were politely ignored by members of the D.C. Democratic State Committee.
In the past several weeks, however, just as the field of contenders for next year's mayoral race seems to be falling into line. Moore has emerged as a front-runner for the chairman's job.
He has been buoyed by popular stands on such issues as rent control and rising property taxes, and by his role as a strategist for Barbara A. Sizemore's nearly successful City Council campaign this summer. Add to that the fact that most of Moore's likely strong opponents would rather run for mayor, and it is easy to understand why Moore suddenly looms as a major spoiler of plans by the city's regular Democratic organization to seize control of the city's young political process. And Moore is enjoying every moment of it.
"They know that the psychological momentum is me," Moore said confidently in an interview last week. "Wouldn't you be afraid if you had designed your thing for the past 10 years and now here comes Douglas E. Moore to mess it all up?"
D.C. Del. Walter E. Fauntroy, one of the leading Democrats in the city, acknowledged last week that Moore "remains a viable candidate because he is not perceived as being controlled by moneyed interests and openly appeals to the emotions of people."
"He's no fool. He's very bright and he knows how to play to the crowd," said one city lawyer who is an active observer and financier of local political campaigns. "I really hope this doesn't happen, but I'll tell you something: I'm afraid he does have a good chance of sneaking in as the next Council chairman."
Part of the plight facing Moore's foes in their efforts to thwart him stems from the fact that because this city has elected only one Council chairman in the past 100 years (Sterling Tucket, who was virtually unopposed, in 1974), there are no patented formulas for political success or for squelching maverick candidates.
"The city is in an adolescent stage," one political observer said. "The (Democratic) party does not know what to do with itself, or how to operate an organization. Therefore, the party apparatus is totally ineffective."
In addition many of the better-known potential candidates who many feel could handily oppose Moore - such as the present Council chairman, Tucker, and at-large Councilman Marion Barry - would rather run for mayor. Moore is considered such a good campaigner - a forceful and aggressive speaker and a shrewd strategist - that opponents of good substance might wilt under Moore's style.
"Douglas Moore is certainly more of a household word than (Councilman) Arlington Dixon (a frequently mentioned possibility for chairman) and people vote on name recognition," one leading city Democrat said.
A lawyer active in politics put it more bluntly: "Arrington Dixon can't handle him. Doug will chew him up and spit him out. Arrington doesn't fight that way. He's too much of a gentleman."
Some feel that with Tucker and Barry apparently out of the chairman's race, only the Rev. David Eaton, pastor of All Souls Unitarian Church and a close associate of Fauntroy, could effectively oppose Moore, Eaton however is also considering running for mayor and already has a draft committee.
To be sure, Moore is the only announced candidate for chairman at this time and the crucial Democratic primary is still 10 months away. Nevertheless, Moore's candidacy is not being considered lightly.
"If you're asking me should people take Douglas Moore seriously, the answer is yes," said one ranking member of the Democratic State Committee. "My own belief is that he's just a big blabbermouth and filled with rhetoric, but anyone who tells you he would get no more than 100 votes or so - they're naive.
Moore, who announced his candidacy Sept. 9, has already begun actively campaigning. In speeches to civic association, church groups, black fraternal organizations and alumni and neighborhood gatherings he attacks his most frequent targets - Barry, Tucker and the Metropolitan Washington Board of Trade - in direct and fervent terms.
Barry for example is forever referred to - even in his own presence - as a "lackey for the Board of Trade" who would be willing to "sell his soul in exchange for a job bagging groceries for Joe Danzansky," the Giant Food's president and key trade board member.
Barry usually ignores Moore. After all, Barry reiterated last week, he has ruled out running for Council chairman and plans to announce early next year that he is running for mayor. Moore keeps hitting away at Barry, nevertheless, because he doesn't believe it.
"I'm still predicting that Marion Barry will come out of the woodwork and throw his support to Sterling Tucker," Moore said last week. "He (Barry) doesn't have any constituents. He doesn't have labor. He doesn't have the preachers. He doesn't have the Board of Trade and support by the gays can't get him elected. I expect Marion Barry to be the designated hitter."
In Moore's view, the political differnce between Tucker and Barry have become no more than those between "spaghetti and macaroni." At a recent town hall meeting in ward five, that ward's Council representative, Democrat William R. Spaulding, became "dumb bunny."
Even in more subdued atmospheres Moore's speeches make their point. As the keynote speaker at the recently held 47th annual awards dinner of the D.C. Federation of Civic Associations. Moore, appropriately wearing a tuxedo, dropped the references to Barry by name and spoke only of "the chairman of the finance and revenue committee" - who is Barry. Federation vice president Everett W. Scott said Moore received a "rare" standing oration at the end of his remarks.
As much emphasis as is placed on Moore' style and his personal affairs, several local political observers also concede privately that his stance on issues cannot be ignored. More consistently perhaps than any other Council member, Moore has come down on the minority side within the Council on most major issues.
He is against the downtown convention center, against decriminatlization of penalties for possession of marijuana, against stricter handgun registration and in favor of more taxes on city businesses. He opposes legalized gambling, detests gay rights - mainly he said because gays have tried to intimidate him politically - and is absolutely opposed to any kind of rent increases.
Thus, Moore finds no political problem with attacking the entire city government - even though he is a part of it - including, at times, the administration of Mayor Walter E. Washington, of whom Moore is one of the strongest supporters on the Council.
At the press conference announcing his candidacy for chairman, for example, Moore announced that the man at the top of his "hit list" - those whose removal he would immediately seek if elected - is Environmental Services Director Herbert L. Tucker, Moore said Tucker's department has done a poor job of handling the preparation of city water bills.
Moore said his stance on the issues has broadened his political support. "Some people who had been conservative toward me have now swung over." Moore said, "I've expanded my base from blacks and made some inroads into places like ward three (the mostly-white affluent area of the city, west of Rock Creek Park) where there are people who are looking at the issues."
At one point, some leading Demono political base and attributed his relatively high vote count in the 1974 general election to a crowded field, the newness of politics in the city and confusion on the part of some voters of his name with that of another minister and City Council candidate, the Rev. Jerry A. Moore, a Republican.
Last year, in the contest for seats on the Democratic State Committee, Moore and Mayor Washington led the Open Party slate, which captured only three of the 48 seats on the committee, losing overwhelmingly to the Unity '76 Coalition, led by Fauntroy, Tucker and Barry.
But in this year's July 19 special City Council election, Moore became a strategist for someone who many considered to be the ideal natural candidate - former D.C. School Superintendent Barbara A. Sizemore - and barely missed winning the election. The victor was Hilda Mason of the D.C. Statehood Party, who had the backing of many of many of the city's most prominent Democrats and won by 68 votes.
Moore feels that his engineering of the Sizemore candidacy taught city Democrats a lesson. "The Democratic Party is paper kitten. It has no patronage and it has no discipline," Moore said last week. "That kitten almost got its tail kicked in the Sizemore campaign, and it almost got it kicked by me."
Most leaders of the Democratic State Committee are quick to point out that Moore did not go against the organized party, which voted formally to endorse no one in that election. Even Faunroy, however, acknowledged last week that Moore remains a viable - but in Fauntroy's belief, ineffective - candidate because of shortcomings in the city's Democratic Party organization.
"He'll continue saying what people want said and not doing what they want done until we have a party process for developing fresh and able leadership that will work together and that is backed up by a patronage system that sustains the unity without which there can be no strength," Fauntroy said last week.
Mention of Moore's personal affairs, which have been the focus of considerable media publicity and some criticism by other city politicians, puts Moore visibly a little ill at ease.