D.C. Democratic State Committee Chairman James M. Christian defeated Larry F. Weston to win reelection to a two-year term last night in the local party's voting for officers.
Two other officers -- Vice Chair Daria Portray Winter and Recording Secretary William H. Simons -- also won reelection, but voting for the two remaining posts was rescheduled for July 10 after balloting for corresponding secretary became deadlocked.
Christian, an attorney who is credited with organizing the party's first issues convention to be held June 21, won on the first ballot by a vote of 38-to-25, which compared with last year's 39-to-22 vote in the race for party chairman between the two men.
The campaign for chairman, which included telephone and printed appeals to the organization's 69 members, was considered a referendum on Christian's efforts to establish the party as a force independent of the city's elected officials. Weston's backers said Christian lacked the necessary organizational skills to manage the party and had failed to include the full spectrum of Democratic interests in the party's decision-making process.
At-large member Theodis R. (Ted) Gay, a former party chairman who said he voted for Weston in 1985 and supported Christian this year, said he believed Christian's reelection reflected the organization's desire for continuity after turnover at the top in each of the past two elections.
Weston, whose supporters had claimed they would topple Christian, said after the election he was "disappointed . . . and surprised."
Christian's strength was shown in the surprisingly strong performance of Francis D. Threadgill Jr., a Ward 3 member who challenged Janette H. Harris for the post of corresponding secretary. Threadgill, who said he decided only Friday to enter the race at the behest of Christian and several others, battled two-term incumbent Harris through eight ballots with neither candidate receiving the required 36 votes.
Christian ended the drawn-out stalemate -- which was marked by informal caucusing in the halls and the D.C. City Council chambers of the District Building, where the voting took place -- when he called for a motion to recess the meeting until July 10.
At that meeting, the party members will also vote to replace party Treasurer Richard Clark, who is stepping down. Lawyer James Edward Mercer was expected last night to be the only candidate nominated for the post.