Couple claims role in Barry victory

January 01, 1995|By Shirley Leung | Shirley Leung,Sun Staff Writer

The FBI made the video that drove Marion S. Barry Jr. from office as the mayor of Washington, but Annapolis producers Jery and Luisa Winters believe it was their television campaign commercials that helped return him to that office.

"Obviously, they worked because he won," said Mr. Winters, 35, chief engineer of Color Vision Video Engineering, which made four commercials for Mr. Barry.

Mr. Barry is to be sworn in at a ceremony tomorrow at the University of the District of Columbia, five years after he was caught on videotape smoking crack cocaine during an FBI sting operation.

He was convicted on a misdemeanor drug possession charge and served six months in prison.

Before the Washington Business Political Action Committee approached them last summer, the Winterses had made only one political ad, a spot for Ralph Gies, a conservative Democrat from the 1st District who ran an unsuccessful write-in campaign for Congress two years ago.

They figured they had nothing to lose when Mr. Barry's supporters asked them to produce two 30-second spots for the Sept. 13 primary, in which Mr. Barry ran against incumbent Mayor Sharon Pratt Kelly and 16-year Councilman John Ray for the Democratic nomination.

One of their commercials portrayed Mr. Ray as an opponent of rent control and showed a family being evicted from its apartment. The other said Mr. Barry's return to politics demonstrated strength of character and showed him pumping the hands of senior citizens.

The Winterses' commercials were among at least 19 that ran on cable and network channels in support of Mr. Barry. But theirs had a twist. Each one had a Spanish version, with the voice-overs done by Mrs. Winters, a Dominican-American and president of the company.

Although television commercials do not play as large a role in local Washington politics as mailings and door-to-door campaigning, the Winterses' role in the Barry campaign could be a coup for their company, say political and polling analysts in Washington.

"The advantage they gain is that they took a chance on Marion Barry rather than they helped him win an election," said Harrison Hickman of Hickman-Brown Research Inc.

"Marion Barry is one of the biggest political comeback stories in 1994. It couldn't hurt," Thomas Riehle, vice president of Peter D. Hart Research, said.

Indeed, the Winterses plan to use their Marion Barry connection to attract new business. "Regardless of how people personally feel about Barry . . . business is business," said Mrs. Winters, 30.

By the end of the 1994 election, Color Vision Video Engineering had produced commercials for about a dozen local political candidates, including Joan Cadden, W. Ray Huff, Philip C. Jimeno, C. Stokes Kolodziejski and Robert H. McMurtrie. Ms. Cadden and Mr. Jimeno, both of District 30, won re-election to the House of Delegates and State Senate.

Locally, the 5-year-old company has developed a reputation for doing quality video production work. The couple also has produced "The Wedding Show," a 30-minute program that runs on local cable channels.

Both are graduates of the Peabody Conservatory of Music, where they began their video production careers filming student recitals.

Making videos is like performing, said Mrs. Winters, who studied violin. "There are so many ways to do a political spot. It's very much like performing a concerto that everyone else has already done."

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