- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 5, 2004

D.C. Council member Jim Graham said yesterday he has decided to forgo a run for the at-large D.C. Council seat held by Harold P. Brazil.

The announcement came a day before he was scheduled to officially announce his candidacy.

“I think this is a time when we really need a sense of unity on the council,” Mr. Graham said. “This colleague-versus-colleague race was really driving a wedge into all that.”

Mr. Graham, Ward 1 Democrat, said after a late Tuesday night meeting with Mr. Brazil, an at-large Democrat, that he would announce his candidacy this afternoon. But after the discussion with Mr. Brazil and phone conversations with council Chairman Linda W. Cropp that stretched beyond midnight, Mr. Graham changed his mind.

“She prevailed upon me not to run,” he said.



Mrs. Cropp, a Democrat, yesterday minimized her role in the discussions, saying Mr. Graham called her and that she restated what she had told him in prior discussions.

“I thought it would be a long haul for him, and I thought that it would be very unusual for one member to run for another incumbent’s seat, which has not happened in the past,” she said. The phone call “may have just crystallized all the things he may have been hearing.”

Mrs. Cropp said she would have supported Mr. Brazil in the race, but that nothing was promised to Mr. Graham to prevent him from running.

“I don’t make deals,” she said.

Mr. Graham also said there were no deals made, but said he is “looking forward to the reorganization of the committee structure” within the council following the November elections. Mr. Graham heads the council’s subcommittee on human rights, Latino affairs and property management.

Mr. Brazil expressed his respect for Mr. Graham yesterday and thanked Mrs. Cropp for mediating their discussions to “avoid a divisive election.”

“She worked to bring Jim and I together for an open and honest discussion of how our campaigns would affect the council and its ability to address the issues facing our city,” Mr. Brazil said.

Mr. Graham said he was “quite confident” he would have won the race. He also said another factor in his decision not to compete against Mr. Brazil, who is black, was the racial imbalance his victory would have created on the council.

There are six black and seven white council members. Of the five members elected at large, three are white and two are black. Had Mr. Graham won the election, Mrs. Cropp would have been the only black council member elected citywide.

Mr. Graham said that in a city in which roughly 60 percent of the residents are black, “these important symbols matter.”

“I represent the most diverse ward in the District, so I am extremely sensitive to these issues,” he said.

A March poll commissioned by Mr. Graham and conducted by the Mellman Group showed a close race, with Mr. Graham taking a 37 percent to 34 percent lead over Mr. Brazil.

Mr. Graham had support from 50 percent of whites compared with 21 percent for Mr. Brazil. Among blacks, Mr. Brazil had 43 percent support compared with Mr. Graham’s 27 percent.

First elected in 1998, Mr. Graham took 85 percent of the vote in his 2002 re-election campaign against Statehood Green Party candidate Edward Chico Troy.

He said that given the citywide support he received while exploring the at-large run, he would not rule out a run for mayor in 2006.

“I’m not going anywhere,” he said. “I’m here.”

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