Political novice Sharon Pratt-Dixon assumed command Tuesday in the Democratic primary to nominate a successor to Mayor Marion Barry, and the Rev. Jesse Jackson gained the party's backing to become a "shadow senator" for the nation's capital.
In the race for the city's non-voting House seat, veteran city councilwoman Betty Ann Kane held a narrow lead over former Jimmy Carter Administration official Eleanor Holmes Norton. Kane was ahead 39% to 36% in early returns.
Former police chief Maurice Turner was unchallenged in the Republican mayoral primary, and attorney Harry Singleton was the only candidate for the GOP delegate's nomination. But winners of the city's Democratic primaries will be heavy favorites for election in November, since Democrats outnumber Republicans by a 9-1 margin.
Barry, who was running as an independent for a City Council seat, announced in advance of his conviction on a drug charge earlier this year that he would not seek election to a fourth term as mayor. His decision touched off a chain reaction that guarantees the city a top-to-bottom realignment of political leaders next year.
Dixon was winning 36% of the vote to 26% for City Councilman John Ray, her closest rival. Delegate Walter E. Fauntroy, who gave up his non-voting House seat to seek Barry's job, was among those trailing in the five-way race.
In the race for a non-voting Senate seat, Jackson had 52% of those ballots in a five-way race for a pair of nominations.
It was Jackson's first time on any ballot other than in a presidential primary. The unofficial "shadow senator" post offers neither salary nor voting privileges in the Senate and was established to lobby Congress to grant statehood to the District of Columbia.
Elsewhere in primary voting Tuesday, former Vermont Gov. Richard A. Snelling's bid to regain the office he held for four terms got off to a fast start when he swept to victory over Richard Gottlieb in the Republican gubernatorial primary. Peter Welch scored an equally decisive victory over William Gwin to win the Democratic nomination for governor.
After serving four two-year terms as governor of Vermont, Snelling decided not to run again in 1984. He was succeeded by Democrat Madeleine M. Kunin, who announced her retirement this year.
Republican Judd Gregg won nomination for a second term as governor of New Hampshire, overwhelming Robert Bonser, the operator of a nudist camp.
In Connecticut, Rep. Bruce A. Morrison defeated state legislator William J. Cibes Jr. for the Democratic nomination to succeed Gov. William A. O'Neill, a Democrat who decided against seeking reelection.
Morrison will face former Sen. Lowell P. Weicker Jr., a Republican running for governor as an independent, and GOP nominee John G. Rowland, a three-term congressman, in the general election.
In Arizona, Republicans were deciding whether to give former Gov. Evan Mecham another shot at the office he lost 2 1/2 years ago through impeachment. Pre-election polls showed him trailing Phoenix developer J. Fife Symington. Former Phoenix Mayor Terry Goddard was favored to emerge as the Democratic nominee.