Democrat Anthony Williams won a landslide victory in the D.C. mayoral election Tuesday, defeating Republican Carol Schwartz and ending the long, scandal-tarnished era of Mayor Marion Barry.
“Today in our city, a voice was heard,” Williams said at his victory gala at the Mayflower Hotel. “And they said, `We want our city back.’ “
The bow-tie clad Williams, criticized during the campaign for being tight-lipped and without charisma, received 66 percent of the vote.
He thrust his hand up in excitement as he approached the stage to make his speech with Barry at his side.
“You know my reputation. I want to have a brief moment of exuberance.
“All right!” Williams shouted. “That’s enough exuberance. Let me get back to accounting.”
Williams will succeed Barry, who decided not to run for a fourth term. While separating himself to some extent from the controversial mayor during the campaign, Williams stood hand in hand with Barry at his victory party.
“I’ve had 16 challenging but good years as your mayor,” Barry said. “I want to thank you for your love, your vote and your willingness to forgive when I messed up from time to time.”
Barry went on to announce that Sen. Lauch Faircloth (R-N.C.) lost his re-election bid to Democrat John Edwards. Faircloth is chair of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on the District, who Barry blamed for taking away the power of the D.C. mayor.
“I’m gonna start a fund-raising drive to buy Sen. Faircloth a bus ticket back to North Carolina,” Barry said. “He can go back on the hog farm and live with the pigs.”
At the Capital Hilton, Schwartz sounded upbeat as she told a crowd of about 150 supporters she was inspired by their hard work and dedication. She received 31 percent of the vote in her third unsuccessful mayoral bid.
Schwartz told her supporters that together, they can stand strong and fight for what is right.
“Tonight I stand proud,” Schwartz said. “Tonight we all stand proud.”
Williams had kind words for Schwartz.
“She’s had a great career in this city. She loves this city, and we love her. She ran a good race,” he said. “There were some hard shots taken, but that’s politics.”
In her concession speech, Schwartz congratulated Williams on his victory. But she said his victory places a heavy burden on his shoulders.
“The real battle for our city’s future is just beginning.” she said.
Williams said he had not yet spoken to Schwartz and said he does not know what he will say to her when they speak.
Williams, who shied away from debates during the campaign in favor of more traditional door-to-door campaigning, participated in the only head-to-head debate with Schwartz at GW last month.
A delegation from the University’s College Democrats attended the gala for Williams on election night.
“This has been a great year for GW students,” former CD president Adam Segal said. “We got more people involved in this mayoral campaign than in campaigns in the past and that fares well for students that want to get involved in the political process in the District.”
But Segal and the other CDs assembled said they did not vote in D.C. this year, choosing to vote by absentee ballot in their home states.
“I totally expected this kind of victory,” CD President Marc Shaller said. “Anthony Williams is very receptive to student needs. I’m confident that GW students will benefit from Mayor Anthony Williams.”
Junior Genoveve Byrn said she was excited about D.C. politics for the first time since she has been at GW.
“I think it is going to be a huge difference for GW students as well as the GW community,” she said. “I think he’s gonna change the city.”
Meanwhile, the College Republicans turned their sights to national races Tuesday night, volunteering at the official Republican National Committee celebration at the Ronald Reagan International Trade Center, where spirits were more sedate than at the Schwartz party.
CR Chair Jared Hosid said he was disappointed and surprised Republicans lost so many congressional seats and the mayoral bid.
“It’s frustrating that a very qualified, dedicated candidate was passed up for someone with little dedication and experience,” Hosid said.
Hosid said he was frustrated to see Schwartz lose after she contributed so much to the city. He said he hopes a Republican will govern the city someday, but that a new leader was needed to bring change to local government.
“It’s a step up from Marion Barry,” he said.
Williams called the evening a “night of celebration.”
“But we have to look forward,” he said. “We know the highest cause and purpose of this city is to be a city about everyone. But we also know that we are not going to get there unless we take care of business. And we know that accountability, openness and integrity is what business is about.”