- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 14, 2002

It's official: Voters overwhelmingly wrote-in the name of Mayor Anthony A. Williams in Tuesday's Democratic primary. The mayor captured 68 percent of write-in votes compared to the Rev. Willie Wilson's 23 percent. Republican voters handed him another prize. Urged by their party to write in Carol Schwartz, a majority of Republicans instead wrote in the name of the Democratic incumbent (1,707 vs. 999) on the Republican ballot. Although closed-primary laws prohibit Mr. Williams from accepting the Republican nod, his 3-1 landslide against Mr. Wilson and the fact that he won over Republicans spells Mr. Williams' victory with a capital "V."
The Democratic primary campaign was tortuous for Mr. Williams. In early spring, he was his only competition. By mid-summer, he faced not only several Democratic challengers, but also scandalous charges of wrongdoing that wiped his name off the Democratic ballot. The legal wrongdoing led Mr. Williams to launch a write-in candidacy and encouraged Mr. Wilson, a popular Baptist preacher and activist, to do the same. However, the Wilson campaign failed to sway significant numbers of Democrats to abandon Mr. Williams. Mr. Wilson's class-warfare rhetoric and his failure to deliver an articulate platform certainly moved Republican voters closer to the Williams camp.
Mr. Williams, meanwhile, must continue to build upon his hard-fought victory as he gears up for November. Mr. Wilson built a cohesive voting bloc during the month he was on the campaign trail. Still, notwithstanding the 21,000 voters who did vote for Mr. Wilson, that constituency proved insufficient but nonetheless worthy of the mayor's attention.
What's more, the race toward the Nov. 5 general election does not promise to be a cakewalk, either. Yesterday, Mrs. Schwartz filed with the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics in order to be positioned to accept the nod from those who wrote in her name on the Republican ballot. That way, Mrs. Schwartz told us, she can keep her "options open." The 999 Republican and 541 Democratic votes were hardly, in and of themselves, convincing for Mrs. Schwartz, who lost the mayor's race three times (twice against Marion Barry, and against Mr. Williams in 1998). However, Mrs. Schwartz and the D.C. Republican Party, which played a key role in knocking Mr. Williams off the September Democratic ballot, have until October to decide whether to field a candidate against Mr. Williams.
In the meantime, congratulations to Mr. Williams on his resounding victory.


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