1986 Washington, D.C. mayoral election

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Washington, D.C.
mayoral election, 1986

← 1982 November 6, 1986 1990 →
  Marion Barry, 1996 in Washington, D.C (cropped).jpg Carolschwartz.jpg
Nominee Marion Barry Carol Schwartz
Party Democratic Republican
Popular vote 79,142 42,354
Percentage 61.4% 32.9%

Mayor before election

Marion Barry

Elected Mayor

Marion Barry

The 1986 Washington, D.C. mayoral election occurred on Tuesday, November 6, 1986, with Democratic candidate and incumbent mayor Marion Barry defeating Republican candidate Carol Schwartz.

Incumbent Marion Barry sought a third term as mayor in 1986. By this time, his dominance of city politics was so absolute that he faced only token opposition in the Democratic primary in the form of former school board member Mattie Taylor, whom Barry dispatched rather easily. Barry had expected to face Jesse Jackson, who had been encouraged by colleagues to seek the mayoralty, and who had been relatively popular in stark contrast to Barry's declining reputation. Barry, who knew that most of Jackson's income came from delivering speeches, used his political clout to arbitrarily disqualify Jackson by getting a law passed that said anyone who made more than a certain amount in honoraria was ineligible to run for D.C. office. Council members jokingly called this the "Jesse Jackson law," as it was legislated expressly to keep Jackson out of the mayoral race.

As expected, he defeated Republican city councilwoman Carol Schwartz fairly handily in the November 4 general election. However, Schwartz won 33 percent of the vote—the first time a Republican had crossed the 30-percent barrier in a general election.[1][2] For the third time, Barry received the endorsement of The Washington Post but "with far greater reservations and misgivings" than at any time in the past.[3]


District of Columbia mayoral election, 1986[4]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Marion Barry 79,142 61.37
Republican Carol Schwartz 42,354 32.84
Independent Brian P. Moore 3,518 2.73
D.C. Statehood Green Josephine D. Butler 2,204 1.71
Independent Garry Davis 585 0.46
Socialist Workers Deborah A. Lazar 469 0.36
  Write-in 684 0.53
Total votes 128,956 100
Democratic hold

Democratic primary[edit]

District of Columbia Democratic primary election, 1986[5]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Marion Barry 52,742 70.6
Democratic John L. Ray 14,588 19.53
Democratic Calvin H. Gurley 4,747 6.35
Democratic Write-in 2,634 3.52
Total votes 74,711 100

DC Statehood Green primary[edit]

District of Columbia Statehood Green primary election, 1986[6]
Party Candidate Votes %
D.C. Statehood Green Josephine D. Butler 245 47.39
D.C. Statehood Green Alvin C. Frost 111 21.47
D.C. Statehood Green Dennis S. Sobin 73 14.12
D.C. Statehood Green Marion Barry 51 9.87
D.C. Statehood Green Write-in 37 7.15
Total votes 517 100

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Jaffe, Harry S.; Tom Sherwood (1994). Dream City: Race, Power, and the Decline of Washington, D.C. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-671-76846-8.
  2. ^ "Our Campaigns - DC Mayor Race - Nov 04, 1986".
  3. ^ "Marion Barry for Mayor". The Washington Post. November 2, 1986. Retrieved 2010-10-31.
  4. ^ "DC Mayor Election – 1990". Our Campaigns. Retrieved February 7, 2016.
  5. ^ "DC Democratic Primary 1986". Our Campaigns. Retrieved February 7, 2016.
  6. ^ "DC Statehood Green Primary 1986". Our Campaigns. Retrieved February 7, 2016.