- The Washington Times - Friday, September 13, 2002

The D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics yesterday announced that Mayor Anthony A. Williams won the Democratic mayoral primary in its preliminary tally of Tuesday's write-in votes.

Mr. Williams, who was seeking re-election as a write-in after the elections board denied him access to the ballot because of forgeries on his nominating petitions, received 61,848 write-in votes, or 68 percent of the vote. His closest challenger, the Rev. Willie F. Wilson, received 20,689 write-in votes, or 23 percent.

The results virtually ensure Mr. Williams' re-election in November. Democrats outnumber Republicans about 8 to 1 in the District.

Last night during a celebration at his campaign headquarters in Northwest, Mr. Williams thanked his staff and city voters for "this tremendous demonstration of support on both the Democratic and the Republican side of the aisle."

Mr. Williams also received 1,707 write-in votes in the Republican primary, more than any other Republican write-in candidate. The Washington Times first reported yesterday that Mr. Williams was the apparent winner of the Republican mayoral primary, which had no candidates on the ballot.

Under city law, the mayor, who is a registered Democrat, cannot run as a Republican. So elections officials yesterday debated whether the Republican primary's runner-up at-large D.C. Council member Carol Schwartz can assume the nomination and run for mayor on the Republican ticket in November's general election.

Elections board Chairman Benjamin F. Wilson yesterday said D.C. laws preclude Mrs. Schwartz from accepting the Republican nomination because she did not receive the most votes in the primary. He later said the Republican Party can send a letter to the board expressing its desire to have Mrs. Schwartz's name on the Nov. 5 ballot.

Mrs. Schwartz, who received 999 write-in votes, has until 4:45 p.m. today to decide whether to accept the Republican nomination. She has lost three previous mayoral bids two to Marion Barry and one to Mr. Williams.

Mrs. Schwartz said she was not surprised that Mr. Williams received so many Republican votes because the mayor "spent one million telling everybody to write in Anthony Williams."

"I didn't spend a nickel," Mrs. Schwartz said.

"If someone wants to challenge me on the Republican side in the general election, I'm ready to roll," Mr. Williams said.

The mayor said the rough road he traveled to win the nomination from being a shoo-in, to having his nominating petitions rejected because of forgeries, to waging a write-in campaign has inspired him to "be a stronger and better man, and a stronger and better mayor."

"There's a saying that everything happens for a reason, and while this has been a difficult path to the nomination, quite difficult, and one I certainly would not have chosen, I've benefited from this journey," he said to the crowd gathered at his headquarters, which included his wife, Diane, and his mother, Virginia.

Among the Democrats whose names appeared on the primary ballot, the Rev. Douglas E. Moore received 5,148 votes; James Clark, 1,326 votes; Faith, 1,028 votes; and Osie L. Thorpe, 279 votes.

Those candidates also received a share of the write-in votes: Mr. Moore received 272 write-ins; Mr. Clark, 107 write-ins; Faith, 72 write-ins; and Mr. Thorpe, 45 write-ins.

Counting the write-ins took two days, far shorter than the seven to 10 days the elections board first estimated. Fifty-two poll workers counted the write-in ballots. "We want to hurry, but we don't want to rush," said Mr. Wilson, the elections board chairman.

Elections board Executive Director Alice Miller said the status of about 300 questionable write-in votes is unresolved, and more than 3,500 absentee ballots remain to be counted. She said the elections board should have the questionable ballots counted by this morning.

Mrs. Miller said the board will certify the results Sept. 25.

"It's been a long, long, long, hot summer," Mr. Williams told a cheering group of supporters at his campaign headquarters last night. "A summer that no one could have imagined, and one that's taught many lessons to us all, particularly to me."

"I've also heard loudly and clearly that it is important for me to reach out to every nook and cranny of this city, and that I will do," he said.

In July, the elections board voted to keep Mr. Williams' name off the primary ballot, citing thousands of forgeries among the signatures on his nominating petitions. He appealed the board's decision to D.C. Superior Court, which backed the elections board.

The elections board also has fined the Williams campaign $250,000, the largest such fine in the city's history.

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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