Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Barry Backers Hoping They Won't Be Sorry

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Barry Backers Hoping They Won't Be Sorry

Article excerpt

WAS MARION BARRY'S phoenixlike win of Washington's Democratic primary on Tuesday a sign of forgiveness or naivete on the part of the residents of the District of Columbia?

It depends on with whom you talk.

For many people, Barry's nomination - which in a city where Democrats outnumber Republicans 9-1 is tantamount to election - is a travesty. Some Washingtonians believe it's an outrage that Barry should once again be given access to the district's highest elective office.

But others believe that Barry has been punished for his misdeeds and deserves forgiveness.

Barry was in his third term as mayor in 1990 when he was arrested on cocaine charges after he was videotaped smoking crack in a hotel room. He was convicted of a misdemeanor charge of possessing cocaine and sentenced to six months in federal prison in 1991.

Barry's arrest and conviction was a shock and disgrace to many residents of that city, who had already been concerned that it had been nicknamed the murder capital of the nation. The cocaine arrest only added to the city's woes, making it appear to be the drug capital as well, they argued.

But Barry served his time in prison. After he got out in 1991, he worked to kick his habits. He has said that his problems with drugs and alcohol are behind him. And when he got out, he chose the city's poorest and most neglected district and ran successfully - against an old political ally - for District Council, the equivalent of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen.

Barry made lots of promises in that election about what he would do for the ward, what new jobs he could bring to the area and how he would be a real voice for the downtrodden.

In fact, he delivered on few of those promises, other than speaking out and making sure his voice was heard.

(To be honest, people rarely expect politicians to deliver on their promises anyway. If you never believe what they tell you, you're never disappointed.)

But speaking out forcefully on issues was enough to please his constituents, who came out for his mayoral bid on Tuesday in a strong way.

To many of Washington's white middle class, Barry was an embarrassment. …

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