Anthony Williams, a relatively new face in D.C. politics, received 50 percent of the vote in the Democratic mayoral primary Tuesday night, emerging from a pack of local politicians who hoped to replace retiring Mayor Marion Barry (D).
As supporters celebrated around him, the former D.C. chief financial officer, who moved to the city in 1993 from St. Louis, said he looks forward to the next step of the campaign.
“We’ve got more victories ahead and the first one is the general election,” Williams said. “We’ve got a formidable opponent and just as we won the primary we’re going to win the general election.”
Williams will face D.C. councilmember Carol Schwartz, who ran unopposed to represent the Republican Party in the mayoral race for the third time.
Williams defeated three members of the D.C. Council Tuesday night. Ward 7 councilmember Kevin Chavous received 35 percent of the vote; Jack Evans, the city councilmember who represents Ward 2, which includes Foggy Bottom, came in a distant third with 10 percent of the vote, and at-large councilmember Harold Brazil won five percent.
Sporting his trademark bow tie, Williams made his way to the stage at his victory party at the Washington Hilton hotel Tuesday, surrounded by bow tie-clad well-wishers and chants of “Tony!”
On stage, he thanked his supporters and staff and thanked Evans, who Williams said had called to congratulate him, offering his support in the upcoming election.
“Jack has run a dignified, most gracious campaign,” Williams said. “He has pledged his full support and I thank him for that.”
Williams also received support from Democratic challenger Jeffrey Gildenhorn, who conceded the race before the polls closed and attended Williams’ party. Gildenhorn, a local businessman and native Washingtonian, received 347 votes.
Vice President Al Gore also called to congratulate Williams before the Democratic nominee appeared in front of his supporters.
“You have adopted me tonight and given me a chance to prove myself,” said Williams, flanked by his adoptive mother and brother, wife and daughter.
Adam Segal, past president of GW’s College Democrats, attended Williams’ celebration with a group of CDs who had spent the day campaigning.
Segal said he is excited about Williams’ candidacy and looks forward to the general election.
“I thought Anthony Williams had the best opportunity to turn around this city,” Segal said.
Segal said the CDs hope Williams will come to campus before the general election and said the GW chapter hopes to play a role in the campaign by recruiting volunteers to work on his campaign.
“We hope to have a massive amount of CDs campaigning for him in every ward across the city on Nov. 3,” Segal said. “The reason (the CDs) are campaigning for him is he is pro-GW students and he is the one candidate that has listened to our concerns, has been interested, and hasn’t made empty promises.”
Segal said Williams has promised to return to campus and talk to students if he is elected. But Segal said he understands GW is not at the top of any mayor’s priority list.
“I think we’re naive to say GW’s problems are big in the scheme of things,” Segal said.
Williams said Tuesday he looks forward to working with the University.
“They are a major employer here and have collaborated on numerous joint partnerships,” Williams said. “They invest in the city for mutual gain.”
GW President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg said he is excited about the prospect of a new mayor in the District.
“There is promise in Williams of someone who can work with others,” Trachtenberg said.
Schwartz received 89 percent of Republican votes Tuesday, with write-in candidates taking the remainder. Although Schwartz came close to defeating Barry in 1994, Trachtenberg said her success was partially because of an anti-Barry backlash.
Jared Hosid, chair of the GW College Republicans, said the CRs will support Schwartz by hanging signs, making phone calls and distributing campaign literature.
“It’s a great chance for people to get involved,” Hosid said of the campaign.
He said the CRs will be concentrate their local efforts on Maryland’s gubernatorial campaign, which he described as a tighter race.
In Maryland, Republican Ellen Sauerbrey is running for governor for the second time against incumbent Gov. Parris Glendening. Both defeated challengers in primaries Tuesday.