The Anthony Williams Pretender Watch, Day 1

The next mayor of D.C. will very likely be Anthony Williams. But which one?

For people who live in Washington, D.C., the next few days will be tense. The Department of Homeland Security yesterday notched up the terrorism threat level from yellow (“elevated”) to orange (“high”). The Pentagon has abruptly upgraded something it described yesterday as a Washington air defense “exercise” involving no live weapons into a Washington air defense “deployment” involving real Stinger anti-aircraft weapons. A third cause of anxiety that people outside Washington may be unaware of relates to the Sept. 10 primary election for D.C. mayor. A Washington Post exit poll indicated that the incumbent, Anthony Williams, led his closest rival 3-1 for the Democratic nomination. (Winning the Democratic nomination in D.C. is tantamount to winning the election.) But it will take several days to declare Williams the winner because Williams failed to present the D.C. election board with the required 2,000 valid signatures prior to the ballot deadline. Consequently, Williams never made it onto the ballot. The incumbent mayor of the capital city of the United States had to run as a write-in candidate!

The Post exit poll suggests that it’s no longer necessary to worry that Williams will lose to one of the mayoral candidates who did get on the ballot, the most colorful of whom, an elderly woman who goes by the name Faith, was endorsed by Marlon Brando in thisPost profile and was previously best-known for originating the role of Mazeppa, the trumpet-playing stripper, in the Broadway and movie versions of Gypsy. (It was Faith who sang the Stephen Sondheim lyric, “If you wanna bump it, bump it with a trumpet.”) We can now assume that the next mayor of Washington will be named Anthony Williams. The trouble is that lists a total of nine Washingtonians named Anthony Williams, each of whom, according to this Sept. 4 Post piece by Ken Ringle, has until Friday afternoon to step forward and declare himself the rightful winner. (Ringle says that D.C. voter registration rolls list four people named “Tony Williams,” any of whom, under D.C. election law, could also make a claim, but Chatterbox can’t locate them.)

Some extremely canny voters may have made their choice clear by writing in “Anthony A. Williams.” But how many people know that’s the mayor’s middle initial? Even the politically savvy Chatterbox wasn’t sure he had it right when he filled in his ballot and so thought it best to avoid. Apparently Williams supporters were handing out rubber stamps with Williams’ name on it, use of which would clearly signal intent to vote for the incumbent mayor. But nobody was passing them out at Takoma Elementary School, where Chatterbox voted.

After giving this problem much thought, Chatterbox concluded it was his civic duty to 1) contact as many of the potential mayoral pretenders as was humanly possible prior to Friday and 2) ask them, as nicely as possible, to make a Sherman-esque statement forswearing the prize. He will report on this effort every day through the rest of this week.

Sadly, Day 1 of this venture was not particularly successful. Chatterbox was able to reach none of the Williamses-in-waiting by phone. Here are Chatterbox’s findings:

Anthony No. 1: His phone’s been disconnected. Possibly that means he’s left town.
Anthony No. 2: His phone is not in service.
Anthony No. 3: Chatterbox got a busy signal three times.
Anthony No. 4: Wrong number. “There is no Anthony Williams here.” Phew!
Anthony No. 5: No answer.
Anthony No. 6: No answer.
Anthony No. 7: No answer, then busy, then busy again.
Anthony No. 8: Chatterbox left a message, three times. The second two times, Anthony was there, but Chatterbox was told he was “busy right now” and couldn’t come to the phone.
Anthony No. 9: No answer.

More tomorrow.

Click  here for the second installment.