WASHINGTON -- Minister Louis T. Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam, said yesterday that his religious sect was in U.S. elective politics to stay but that he had no intention of being a candidate for office himself.
Mr. Farrakhan announced his organization's intentions at a news conference held here as Washingtonians were preparing to go to the polls in critical local elections.
The Muslim leader, whose religious and racial views have made him a controversial political figure, said of his personal intentions, "I like the spiritual arena" -- and besides, he added, prophets do not need to become kings.
Mr. Farrakhan held the news conference to call attention to the candidacies in today's local elections of two Nation of Islam members who, he said, represent the sect's "first effort" in elective politics.
One, George X Clure, is running for the post of District of Columbia delegate to Congress; the other, Shawn X Brackeen, is seeking an at-large seat on the D.C. Board of Education. Neither appears to have much chance of winning.
But whatever their fate, Mr. Farrakhan said, "it will not be our last effort." And in response to a question about participation in national as well as Washington politics, he added, "We are here to stay."
Meanwhile, today's voting in this city is sure to bring about the widest changes among those who run the local government in the nation's capital since the district was granted home rule in 1974.
In the major contests, Washingtonians will elect their first new mayor in 12 years, their first new delegate to Congress in 19 years, a new chairman of the 13-member D.C. City Council and two of the council's four at-large members.
In the contest to see who will succeed Mayor Marion S. Barry Jr., a poll last week commissioned by WJLA-TV said Democrat Sharon Pratt Dixon, a utility company executive, was leading her Republican opponent, former Washington police chief Maurice T. Turner Jr., by a margin of 71 percent to 14 percent.
As for Mr. Barry, who was convicted in September of cocaine possession and sentenced last month to six months in jail, a poll commissioned by a local television station indicated that the mayor, who is seeking one of two at-large seats on the D.C. City Council, is running a close third behind his two chief rivals.
In the race for the post of D.C. delegate to Congress, polls said Democrat Eleanor Holmes Norton, a law professor, was leading Republican Harry M. Singleton, a lawyer and management consultant.