- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 31, 2002

Former D.C. Mayor Marion Barry said yesterday that he would support Anthony A. Williams' re-election bid if the incumbent mayor wins the Sept. 10 Democratic primary.
But Mr. Barry, who announced his endorsement of the Rev. Willie F. Wilson on Thursday, said during an appearance on WTOP Radio that the Baptist pastor is the better man for the job and is "eminently qualified to be mayor."
Mr. Wilson "has the vision for the city, and he's proven it through his leadership: building the church from 30 members 29 years ago to over 7,000 members, a multimillion-dollar budget, and he's in touch with the community," Mr. Barry said in an interview on WAMU-FM (Radio 88.5). "And he has a lot more heart than the present incumbent."
Mr. Barry also criticized the media for trying to paint Mr. Wilson as a racist, saying the church leader is reaching out to all city voters.
To counter critics who say his endorsement of Mr. Wilson adds to the racial divisiveness in the city, he said the District is more polarized now than it ever was, noting that he has not been in office for four years.
When asked whether he would back the Democratic nominee, even if it is Mr. Williams, Mr. Barry, a lifelong Democrat, said, "Of course I will."
Mr. Barry and Mr. Wilson, pastor of Union Temple Baptist Church in Southeast, both supported Mr. Williams' mayoral bid in 1998 and garnered many black voters.
Mr. Williams and Mr. Wilson are running write-in campaigns for the primary.
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 petition signatures and has been fined $250,000.
Later yesterday on WAMU, Mr. Barry said he was going to lend Mr. Wilson the support of his political organization, which he said was "oiled up." Appearing with the former mayor on the radio program, Mr. Wilson said he is his "own man" and not acting as a frontman for Mr. Barry.
Mr. Barry was convicted on a misdemeanor drug charge in 1990, while mayor.
In his surprising comeback victory for a fourth term as mayor in 1994, Mr. Barry used his considerable grass-roots organization to register thousands of voters. And during a victory press conference, he told his political opponents to "get over it."
Mr. Barry declined to say what role he would play in a Wilson administration, adding that he is confident Mr. Wilson can manage the city government by hiring capable people as he did when he first became mayor in 1979.
Initially successful at promoting investments in the city, the Barry administration came under fire for fiscal dishonesty; more than a dozen administration employees were convicted on charges of misconduct in office by 1989.
After leaving office in 1999, Mr. Barry had been mostly in the background until he withdrew from race for a D.C. Council seat earlier this year.

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