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Who’s supporting the mayor?

(Published March 11, 2002)

By KATHRYN SINZINGER

Staff Writer

Four years after Mayor Anthony A. Williams swept into office on the strength of a broad-based citizen "draft" campaign, the mayor’s re-election effort appears to be getting most of its financial support from business interests and from individuals who do not live or vote in the District.

And while 24 percent of the $479,612 the Committee to Reelect Tony Williams reported receiving from last August through the end of January came from contributors with D.C. residential addresses, almost all of those addresses are located in only one quadrant of the city – Northwest Washington.

Some contributors listed with D.C. addresses in the campaign’s Jan. 31 financial disclosure report – such as U.S. Sen. John D. "Jay" Rockefeller of West Virginia and his wife, WETA President Sharon Percy Rockefeller, who each contributed $1,000 – are not D.C. residents. Several D.C. residents who contributed to the campaign are employed by the D.C. government, and some work directly for the mayor.

Candidates’ principal campaign committees are required to file additional financial disclosure reports this year with the D.C. Office of Campaign Finance on March 11, June 10, Aug. 12, Oct. 10, Dec. 10 and eight days preceding any election in which the candidates’ names appear on the ballot. Primary elections for major-party candidates are scheduled for Sept. 10, and the general election will be held Nov. 5.

By the end of January the mayor’s campaign committee had amassed more than $1.1 million in cash on hand, an uncharacteristically large war chest for a local D.C. candidate and one that many political observers say may be scaring off any serious challengers to Williams’ bid for another four-year term.

Mentioned most often as potential challengers in this fall’s primary and general elections are the two city councilmen on opposite sides of the political aisle who joined forces last year as the leading opponents of the mayor’s health care reform effort that closed D.C. General Hospital.

Councilman Kevin P. Chavous, the Ward 7 Democrat who appeared to be the odds-on favorite to win the mayoralty in 1998 before his own constituents launched the campaign that drafted then-chief financial officer Williams to run, is still considering whether to throw his hat into the ring this year. Chavous would not jeopardize his current seat by seeking another office this year, since his term expires in 2004.

At-Large Councilman David Catania, on the other hand, has already launched his re-election campaign for the council seat he would need to forfeit if he decided to run for mayor instead. Despite widespread support in the community, even among Democrats, for the Republican councilman to challenge the mayor, Catania has continued to maintain that his campaign efforts are aimed at retaining his citywide council post.

Contributors with D.C. residential addresses donated a total of $117,245 to the mayor’s campaign between last August and the end of January. Individuals who were listed with out-of-town addresses contributed a total of $195,050. The mayor’s campaign committee also reported receiving a total of $138,800 from businesses, including local real estate companies and law firms, and from political action committees. (These totals do not include contributors who were not completely identified or individuals who listed a business address.) The campaign also reported receiving interest income of more than $15,000 during the reporting period.

Contributors listed on the mayor’s Jan. 31 campaign finance report appear below:

Copyright 2002, The Common Denominator