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Washington Mayor Eyes Options for Primary Spot

Politics: Anthony Williams may have to start write-in campaign to win Democratic nod.

July 28, 2002|From Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Mayor Anthony Williams, who is seeking reelection, is considering how he can get around a decision by the District of Columbia's election board to deny him a spot on the Democratic primary ballot.

The campaign's lead attorney in the case, Vincent Mark J. Policy, accused the Board of Elections and Ethics of "a total abrogation of the law" in ruling unanimously Friday night that Williams lacked the required 2,000 valid signatures on his nominating petitions. The three-member board disqualified Williams, even though the registrar of voters, Kathryn Fairley, said that her review of the 10,240 signatures on the nominating petition came up with 2,235 signatures that appeared to be valid.

Williams' campaign is considering several actions, including taking the board's decision to the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, running a write-in campaign to win the Democratic primary or running as an independent in November's general election.

"Whatever gets me out the most to the people is something that appeals to me." Williams said Saturday. "I want to get ... out of the office and back on the street."

If the mayor mounts a write-in campaign, he will have about a month to get his message to the voters. If he decides to run as an independent, his campaign would have to gather 3,000 legitimate signatures in the same time span.

The mayor said he would announce a decision early next week.

Williams planned to campaign door-to-door today, visiting seven of the city's eight wards.

The board decided against Williams because its members weren't confident the signatures were obtained in an appropriate manner, Chairman Ben Wilson said.

Among names on petitions were Billy Joel, Kelsey Grammer, Tony Blair and other specious signatures.

The D.C. Republican Party and an activist group, D.C. Watch, filed challenges with the board after hearing allegations that many signatures were forged or were not witnessed by the people who signed as circulators.

Two circulators, Scott Bishop and Scott Bishop Jr., appeared before the board Friday, but their attorneys said they intended to invoke their 5th Amendment privileges when questioned.

Williams campaign co-chairwoman Gwen Hemphill testified Friday that circulators were paid $1 for each signature they collected because campaign officials couldn't find volunteers willing to circulate petitions.

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