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Marion Barry Is Back

Every city has its legends - politicians who triumph seemingly against all odds - even scandals in which they are far from blameless.

Washington, D.C., has Marion Barry.

Barry - infamous for being caught on an FBI video smoking crack during the third of his four terms as mayor - scored a primary victory Tuesday, winning the Democratic nomination to a city council seat in what is likely to be his second comeback since his drug conviction.

In the strongly Democratic city, a fall victory is virtually guaranteed.

The man Barry beat, incumbent candidate Sandy Allen, said there are people in the ward who "only vote when Marion Barry runs."

Barry, 68, was mobbed as he claimed victory in the Democratic primary for the city council seat representing Ward 8, a neighborhood that is struggling financially.

"It's not only victory for Marion Barry, but for God and the people of Ward 8," said Barry, who visited every polling place on Election Day. "I wasn't worried about today because when you claim the victory, God gives it to you. Isn't that right? He gives it to you. We got a new Ward 8. We'll bring jobs to this community."

"I didn't listen to all those pundits," said Barry, zinging his opponents.
"Somebody said to me the other day, 'Those people in Ward 8 must be dumb and stupid.' I said, 'You're a liar. They're very smart. They know what service I've given.'"

"Money can't buy service and can't buy love. And I've given service to this community. Maybe a little bit more than I should have done, but I've given service to this community," Barry continued. "I've given my brainpower, my energy, my everything to this community."

Barry campaigned on economic issues including jobs creation, affordable housing and opposition to tax hikes to pay for a baseball stadium to lure the Expos to the city.

Barry - who did jail time back when he was nabbed in a drug sting, and left the mayor's office in cloud of scandal in 1990 - still has his critics.

He is not well-liked on Capitol Hill, and his critics claim the former mayor's victory at the polls could damage the campaign to win home rule for the District of Columbia.

Currently, the District of Columbia's only representative on Capitol Hill can vote in committee, but not on the House floor.