What Makes Tony Run?

A "libertarian Republican" battles for a job in Democratic D.C.

(Page 2 of 2)

The stadium issue is occasionally Williams' strongest; the rest of the time, it's education. He defends a school voucher program that began in January 2004 over the objections of most D.C. Democrats—like the stadium deal, it fueled an unsuccessful recall petition of Mayor Tony Williams (no relation), who supported it. But Williams (the candidate) saw strong support in the black community that wasn't reflected by their leadership.

"It almost didn't get passed," Williams says, "and it wasn't until the end when you started to see some children and parents ask, 'If this doesn't take any money from public school, if this just gives our kids choice, why not try it out?' That's when it got passed."

Williams estimates he needs $30,000 to make a competitive race. Thanks to help from local Republicans (Grover Norquist, for one), he's going to have it. But by his math he needs 8,000 to 8,500 votes to beat Tommy Wells and actually win the seat. That's 2,000 votes more than Carol Schwartz got in her last mayoral race, and less than Wells used to score in his races for the school board.

"He's all they've got, so of course they're going to talk him up as the greatest thing since sliced bread," says a Democrat close to the Wells campaign. "And sliced bread was a long time ago. If I was a Republican with money I wouldn't be throwing it at this race."

"Carol Schwartz has told me that you don't win your first time out as a Republican," Williams says. "You build up support and recognition. Then you run a second time or a third time."

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