In "A Write-In for Jerry Moore? Why?" (op-ed, Oct. 18), Pat Press, who in 1978 ran her own write-in campaign for D.C. Council (with stickers) after having lost in the Democratic primary, criticizes six council members for supporting the write-in campaign of Jerry Moore. She argues that D.C. law reserves two at-large council seats for members of minority parties and that persons who are members of the Democratic Party should be silent regarding the candidates for those seats. Press misstates the law, ignores much and comes to an erroneous conclusion.
The law limits nominations by party organization to one less at-large seat than the number at stake in each election. In most elections, as in this one, that means that each party may nominate one candidate and each voter may vote for two at-large candidates. Thus, every District voter, including public officials, can be loyal to his or her party's candidate and vote for one other person for at-large council member. That is precisely what my colleagues and I are doing.
This is to be contrasted with the mayoral, council chairman and ward elections, in which each party can have one candidate for one seat. Press ran her write-in campaign in a ward race; having done so, she can hardly argue against such a campaign in this more legitimate circumstance.
Over the last 10 years, since the days of Julius Hobson, there has been public support of Republicans and Statehooders by Democrats in the at-large "second-seat" races, and Democrats have enjoyed the support of Republicans and Statehooders. This year is no exception.
However, the party organizations have not supported candidates from other parties. The Democratic Party has only one candidate in the forthcoming election, John Ray, and the Republican Party has only one candidate, Carol Schwartz. I have never said or urged anything to the contrary.
Press ignores the fact that each of us endorsed Moore before the Republican primary. The choice that his party made in its primary to nominate another candidate should not cause us to withdraw our previous support.
Press also ignores alternatives available to us if our purpose truly was to exert a Democratic hold on the second at-large seat. Under the same D.C. law, a Democrat can run a write-in campaign, which is not being done. Also a Democrat can change his or her registration to that of an Independent and have his or her name placed on the ballot. In fact, at the time that five council members indicated that they would continue to support Moore, a member of the D.C. Democratic State Committee, Norman Neverson, had changed his registration, filed petitions as an independent and was being widely touted as a Democrat-in-disguise candidate. It was in the face of that effort, and without knowing the factors that ultimately persuaded Neverson to withdraw, that my colleagues and I indicated our continuing support of Moore. In that light, we can hardly be said to have been motivated by partisan concerns.
Press is irresponsible when she asks: if the situation were reversed, and Republicans dominated the council, would the public not hear "a cry of racism" if Republicans supported a Democrat other than Mayor Barry? Such a statement is unwarranted.
Press and the rest of us would do well to reflect on the differences in policy between the candidates, for they will have far more effect on the public than will the matters she discusses.