Saying he is disillusioned by the decision of two influential black minister groups to endorse incumbent Mary Pat Clarke, Daki Napata is abandoning his grass roots campaign for City Council president.
Meanwhile, the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance and the Baptist Ministers Conference today announced they were also endorsing Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke and comptroller candidate Mary W. Conaway in the Sept. 12 Democratic primary.
"We applaud the [candidates] whom we have endorsed for being accessible and accountable," said the Rev. Sidney Daniels, president of the alliance.
But those endorsements rankled Napata. Speaking before a political forum of the the Southeast Community Organization, an angry Napata said last night he was giving up campaigning for City Council president. That move leaves Clarke as the lone Democrat campaigning for the job, although Napata's name still will appear on the primary ballot.
"I really got a sense that I was not going to get a fair hearing on the issues," Napata said.
Napata becomes the second Democrat to abandon his candidacy against the popular Clarke. Last month, state Sen. George W. Della Jr., D-City, withdrew from the council president's race days after getting in it, citing family reasons.
Napata said he is giving up because the media and the two influential ministers' groups were not hearing his message. He said that doomed whatever chance his low-budget campaign had for victory.
Napata, a longtime civic activist, is a former organizer for the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance. For that reason, he said he was stung by what he described as their rejection of his candidacy.
"When I can't get affirmation from the group I consider myself a child of, then there's no use," he said.
"I think his words are a little strong," Daniels said of Napata. "As a political candidate he was given full consideration for the endorsement, and he lost."
Although he is giving up, Napata last night had bitter criticism for Clarke, whom he called power-hungry.
Clarke later took issue with Napata's comments.
"I'm the ultimate outsider candidate," Clarke said. "It's reaching far for someone to look at the handful of women who have been elected to political office in this country and call it the new girl network."
The ministers today also endorsed these City Council candidates in the Democratic primary:
Pamela Carter, Carl Stokes and Paula Johnson Branch in the 2nd District; Nina Harper, George E. Brent and Sylvia Williams in the 3rd; incumbents Agnes Welch, Sheila Dixon and Lawrence Bell in the 4th; incumbents Vera P. Hall, Iris G. Reeves and Rochelle Rikki Spector in the 5th; and Melvin L. Stukes, Rodney A. Orange and Arlene B. Fisher in the 6th.
"Our approved slate will be circulated in our 300 churches," Daniels said. "Also the endorsement is important symbolically because of the respect the ministers have in the community."