- The Washington Times - Friday, August 30, 2002

Former D.C. Mayor Marion Barry yesterday threw his support to the Rev. Willie F. Wilson in the Sept. 10 Democratic mayoral primary, saying he had little choice in the matter.
"I am saddened by what happened over the petitions," Mr. Barry said, referring to the scandal that forced Mayor Anthony A. Williams to run a write-in campaign for re-election. "I came out of the civil rights movement, which fought so hard for the right to vote. But now this fraud, conspiracy to defraud our citizens, it was the last straw."
Mr. Barry, who was convicted on a misdemeanor drug charge as mayor in 1990, and Mr. Wilson, who also is running a write-in campaign for mayor, both supported Mr. Williams' mayoral bid in 1998 and garnered many black voters for his campaign.
Yesterday, Mr. Barry said Mr. Williams didn't seem interested in his support or his endorsement.
"I haven't heard from him, even though I have seen him a few times," the former mayor said of the man who succeeded him. "If he wanted my vote, he should have asked for it."
Campaigning together for the first time yesterday, Mr. Barry and Mr. Wilson, pastor of Union Temple Baptist Church in Southeast, appeared at Claridge Towers on M Street NW to speak to a few dozen senior citizens.
Arriving to cheers, hugs and handshakes, Mr. Barry told his audience that Mr. Wilson is "the man of the hour."
"He is a great leader and visionary and has shown that he can manage," he said, referring to Mr. Wilson's congregation, which has grown from 30 to more than 7,000 under the pastor's leadership. "And he shows leadership with a heart."
The Barry announcement was not a surprise because Mr. Williams and Mr. Barry have not been on good terms.
"Am I, like, surprised?" Mr. Williams said of Mr. Barry's endorsement. "Do you want me to do a somersault? I mean, I'm not shocked. I expected that this would happen.
"What I'm focused on is not what Mayor Barry is doing or Reverend Wilson is doing," the mayor said. "What I'm focusing on is my campaign. My campaign is about moving the city forward into the future, together as opposed to turning back the clock with everyone fighting with one another. That's what I represent, and I think people are going to be with me for that reason."
Mr. Wilson entered the race this month after the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics last month barred Mr. Williams from running on the Democratic ballot. The Williams campaign submitted more than 5,000 fraudulent signatures and has been fined $250,000.
"All over the city I hear the same thing: The mayor doesn't listen to citizens," Mr. Wilson told senior voters yesterday. "Now he is running around apologizing for not being connected. He is trying to make up for four years in four weeks."
Seniors at the Wilson campaign event seemed pleased to see Mr. Barry, praising his past leadership and offering anecdotes from the past.
Mr. Barry has been prominent in D.C. politics for decades.
A civil rights activist during the 1960s, he first entered D.C. politics when he was elected to the school board in 1972, soon after the city was given home rule.
He won a seat on the D.C. Council in 1974. In 1979, he took office as mayor.
Initially successful at promoting investments and jobs in the city, his administration came under fire for fiscal dishonesty more than a dozen administration employees were convicted on charges of misconduct in office by 1989.
In January 1990, the FBI videotaped Mr. Barry smoking crack cocaine in a downtown hotel room. Despite the arrest and later conviction, Mr. Barry finished his third term but couldn't run for another.
While appealing his conviction, Mr. Barry ran and lost a race for an at-large seat on the D.C. Council. His sentence was upheld, and he spent six months in prison.
Mr. Barry re-entered politics and made international headlines after he won his bid to be mayor in 1994. Two years later, he took a leave from his mayoral duties to seek help at a retreat in Maryland and later in Missouri, raising suspicions that he had begun using drugs again. He said then that he suffered from exhaustion after surgery for prostate cancer.
The former mayor spent his last term battling a congressionally appointed financial control board, installed to save the city from bankruptcy and which later stripped him of nearly all his power. He declined to run in 1998, instead backing the chief financial officer he selected for his administration, Mr. Williams. Since then, Mr. Barry has been a consultant to an investment banking firm and prison company.
He stayed mostly in the background until he decided to run for the D.C. Council as an at-large candidate earlier this year. But news reports that U.S. Park Police found traces of marijuana and crack cocaine in his car and a possible breakup of his eight-year marriage in March forced him to withdraw.
Guy Taylor contributed to this report.

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