Bush joins effort by GOP to win D.C. mayoral race

September 23, 1990|By Arch Parsons | Arch Parsons,Washington Bureau of The Sun

WASHINGTON -- President Bush plans to offer visible evidence tomorrow that the national Republican Party is throwing its full weight behind the campaign of Washington's former police chief, Maurice T. Turner Jr., Republican candidate for mayor of the District of Columbia.

Mr. Bush is scheduled to appear at a breakfast that will seek to raise $250,000 for Mr. Turner's run for the mayoralty. About 500 guests, who will pay from $250 for a plate of bacon and eggs to $2,000 to meet the president at a pre-breakfast reception, are expected to attend.

The breakfast is just the beginning, according to restaurateur Wallace Ganzi, who is financial chairman of Mr. Turner's campaign. In all, 15 such affairs, including neighborhood dinners at $10 a plate, will be held during the campaign, he said. The aim: to deposit more than $1 million into Mr. Turner's campaign treasury.

Among the events to come, Mr. Ganzi said, is an "Attorneys for Turner" dinner in October, at which the main attraction will be Vice President Dan Quayle.

Democrats, nationally and locally, said the combined White House-Republican Party offensive on behalf of Mr. Turner didn't worry them.

"The fact that George Bush and the Republican Party are bankrolling Maurice Turner's campaign will not inhibit [Democratic candidate] Sharon Pratt Dixon from getting her message out to voters and winning this race," said Ron Brown, chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

In any event, the DNC is planning a counteroffensive on behalf of Mrs. Dixon, a former utilities executive and a former Democratic national committeewoman. The DNC, Mr. Brown said, is "in the final stages of putting together a coordinated campaign for the Democratic ticket."

While the Republicans will concentrate on beefing up Mr. Turner's campaign financially, Mr. Brown said, the DNC will "lend its full support" to Mrs. Dixon's campaign by concentrating on producing another kind of currency for her: votes.

"Knowing that Democrats out-register Republicans in the district by an 8-to-1 margin," Mr. Brown said, "our strength lies in a strong get-out-the-vote operation."

David Byrd, the 29-year-old manager of Mrs. Dixon's campaign, said he relished the president's participation on behalf of Mr. Turner.

"I'd like to see him out on the stump, if possible," Mr. Byrd said. "We haven't forgotten Willie Horton."

Mr. Bush was criticized for injecting negative racial overtones into his presidential campaign against Democratic candidate Michael S. Dukakis, governor of Massachusetts, by using pictures of Horton, a convicted murderer who attacked a Maryland couple while on furlough, in television ads criticizing the Massachusetts prison-furlough program.

But Mr. Ganzi said that "65 percent of the money" for tomorrow's breakfast has come from Washington's "minority community."

While Mr. Bush and the national Republican Party have committed themselves firmly to Mr. Turner, there remains a question of the extent to which he is committed to the Republicanism of Mr. Bush. Mr. Turner has said plainly, for example, that he favors statehood for the district, which the president opposes.

Nevertheless, Mr. Turner has suggested to voters that if elected he would have "a vastly improved relationship with the federal government" -- meaning the White House and Republicans in Congress -- compared to what Mayor Marion S. Barry Jr. has had. Or, he has implied, what Mrs. Dixon, as a Democrat, would have.

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