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Indeed, while much of the power in city hall is held by four elected officials who live east of the Anacostia River — the mayor, D.C. Council chairman and the Ward 7 and Ward 8 council members — Ward 8 residents have begun asking, “Mr. Barry, what have you done for me lately?” Consider this too: It’s not that Mr. Barry hasn’t fought a good class-warfare fight before. It’s just that blacks rarely posed a serious threat to victory.

This year, they are staring him down.

So remember these Democrats’ names:

• Jacque Patterson, former chairman of the Ward 8 Democrats.

• Natalie Williams, who had Mr. Barry’s support to run the Ward 8 Dems but lost.

• Jauhar Abraham, whose credibility was ensnarled in an anti-crime contracting scandal.

Mr. Barry soon will turn 76, and there’s no doubt there will be many a tear shed around the city if he loses.

And you know why? Marion Barry is an educated civil-rights leader, former school board president, former mayor, council member and doyen of the black underclass, and he helped to breed the solid black middle class that now inhabits Washington (and nearby Prince George’s County as well).

To know they have turned on him must be very painful.

To know they have learned from him is of utmost importance, however.

Let the Barry Watch begin.

Deborah Simmons can be reached at