Events conspired to reactivate the speculation last week.
Jackson aides confirmed that Jackson and his family were planning to move into a home they had bought here a few years ago, and that the National Rainbow Coalition, Jackson's political organization, would move its headquarters back to Washington from Chicago.
While Jackson forces were making news, so was the city council. It adopted a so-called "stop-Jesse" bill, barring the mayor of the city from receiving more than $10,000 a year in honoraria. Jackson makes considerably more than that in fees for appearances and theoretically would suffer financially if such a bill is passed.
The measure was sponsored by two city council members who have announced their own candidacies.
As the week ended, Barry had some news of his own. Top aides told the Washington Post he would run for a fourth term, probably making the announcement in September.
"Everybody is watching and wondering what's going to happen next," said community activist Dorothy Ashley, who attended the community leaders meeting and has been following events since.
"I wouldn't call it a decisive turn," said Howard University political scientist Alvin Thornton of the latest move by Barry to signal his intentions. ''Barry had to say something before September because otherwise people would move away from him to someone else."
Barry has been criticized because of the city's inability to curb the surge in drug-related crimes, including a rising murder rate.
His image also has been tarnished by a series of criminal investigations of top staffers and close friends, some of whom have been arrested.
Against that backdrop, many of Barry's personal friends have urged him not to run. He could probably win, they say, but may not be able to govern effectively.
Jackson, meanwhile, has kept the city guessing since indicating several months ago - and disclaiming as quickly - interest in running for mayor.
He has insisted that he will not run against his long-time friend Barry.