Skip to main contentSkip to main content
You have permission to edit this article.


  • Updated
  • 0

District of Columbia Mayor Marion Barry, on trial for alleged perjury and drug use, is expected to announce today that he will not seek re-election, sources close to Barry said Sunday.

Barry, 54, has told advisers he will abandon his hopes for a fourth, four-year term in an effort to restart stalled plea-bargain talks in his cocaine possession and perjury case.``He knows that his re-election plans represent one of his best bargaining chips,' said one source familiar with Barry's thinking. ``This is a move he hopes will break the logjam around the plea talks.'

The mayor has pleaded innocent to 10 misdemeanor cocaine possession charges, one misdemeanor cocaine conspiracy charge and three felony counts of lying to a grand jury about his alleged drug use.

Other sources said Barry was scheduled to meet with his top campaign officials and fund-raisers Sunday night. One source said it was expected that the mayor ``will tell us that we're out of work.'

The plea discussions, which started more than two weeks ago, broke down last week with U.S. Attorney Jay B. Stephens insisting that Barry plead guilty to a felony charge and the mayor only willing to consider a misdemeanor plea.

A guilty plea to any of the perjury charges probably would result in Barry's doing jail time, since federal sentencing guidelines are strict and implicit in recommending incarceration in such cases.

By taking himself out of the mayor's race, Barry hopes to persuade Stephens to relax his demands for a felony plea, sources close to the mayor said.

All of the sources commented on their private contacts with the mayor only on the condition they not be identified by name.

``Right now, he feels this is the best he can get,' one source said. ``It guarantees him nothing, but there is a hope that if he isn't running again, Stephens might reconsider his stance.'

Jury selection in the trial began last week and is expected to continue for at least one more week.

The sources said Barry has agonized over the decision to abandon hopes of retaining the job he has held since 1979.

``Anything is possible,' one source said. ``He's getting a lot of pressure from his supporters not to do this, and right now, he's waking up every morning and deciding what he wants to do. Sometimes, it is different from one day to the next.'

Neither Barry nor his spokeswoman, Lurma Rackley, could be reached for comment Sunday.

Barry, who grew up in Mississippi and later became a foot soldier in the civil rights movement, climaxed his climb from the world of political protest to the political establishment when he was elected mayor of the nation's capital in 1978.

Barry is widely credited with encouraging downtown development and straightening out the city's financial books during his first term. But rumors of alleged drug use began to surface after his re-election in 1982.

Starting then, his administration was also touched by scandal. A dozen top city officials, including two of Barry's closest aides, have been convicted of crimes.

While Barry was never implicated in the contracting irregularities or theft that brought down some of his advisers, the drug allegations refused to go away.

The allegations reached fever pitch in December 1988, when city police inexplicably called off an attempted drug buy from a since-convicted cocaine dealer when they learned that Barry was in the drug dealer's hotel room.

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Related to this story

Most Popular

Top-seeded Grimsley makes a goal-line stand to set the stage for Jackson Henry’s game-winning field goal in the third overtime as the Whirlies beat No. 5 Cornelius Hough 40-37 in the fourth round of the NCHSAA Class 4-A West football playoffs.

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.


Breaking News

News Alert