The Rev. Jesse Jackson has begun active discussion of running for mayor in the District of Columbia next year, a step that would in all likelihood take him out of the race for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1992.
Jackson told the Washington Post on Friday: "I have not yet made a determination to run here," but he said that he is speeding planned remodeling work on a home he owns in Washington and may move here from Chicago as soon as it is completed.
Several Jackson advisers told the Post that in private conversations in the last two weeks he has indicated a strong inclination to skip the 1992 presidential battle and seek elective office in Washington--a decision that would drastically alter the national and local political landscape.
Impact on Would-Be Candidates
It would open the 1992 nomination fight by removing from contention one of the most exciting and controversial figures in the Democratic Party. At the same time, it would likely cause all those eyeing the job now held by embattled three-term Mayor Marion Barry to re-evaluate their plans.
Jackson said flatly: "I will not run against Marion Barry," and Jackson advisers told the Post that Jackson is encouraging efforts to find a business or academic post to which Barry could retire at the end of his term.
Barry said in a statement Friday that "from all indications I have received, the Rev. Jackson is not interested in running for mayor of Washington, D.C., regardless of whether I run or not."
Key figures in past Jackson presidential campaigns said that in recent conversations, Jackson has expressed the view to them that it would be a mistake for him to seek the party nomination again in 1992.
Could Be Three-Time Loser
"He realizes that he could--and probably would--end up a three-time loser at age 51," said one man, "and that would be the end of his national prospects."
Jackson disclaimed that thinking, and said it was "speculative and premature" to conclude that he would seek to succeed Barry. But he pointedly noted that "I have worked here (Washington) as much as I have in Chicago."