Jackson Will Run for D.C. Post Designed to Promote Statehood
The Rev. Jesse Jackson announced on Thursday that he will run for one of the District of Columbia’s two “shadow senator” posts to lobby Congress to grant the city statehood.
“Statehood for the District of Columbia is the most important civil rights issue in America today,” Jackson said. “More people live here than five states; we pay more taxes than 10 states; we pay more taxes per capita than 49 states, and yet no vote on Capitol Hill.”
He said election to the shadow post would have no bearing on whether he decides to run for President in 1992. “The two are not connected whatsoever,” he said.
The shadow senators will be unpaid lobbyists for D.C. statehood, with no official duties.
The city has one delegate to Congress who may vote in committees but not on the floor of the full House.
Jackson, a two-time contender for the Democratic presidential nomination, said the post would allow him to help “expand democracy” to the district.
Jackson’s political plans have been the subject of great speculation since he moved to the nation’s capital last year.
In February, he announced he would not run for mayor.
Jackson said statehood for the city would benefit the entire nation and the world.
“It may be the only way to integrate the U.S. Senate,” Jackson said. The Senate “currently has 98 white males and two white females in a society that is 12% African-American and majority female.”
There have been three blacks in the Senate, most recently Republican Edward Brooke of Massachusetts in the 1970s. Harvey Gantt, who is black, is the Democratic Senate nominee in North Carolina.
Jackson said the city-state’s two senators would fight for “progressive causes” such as health care, multicultural and quality education for all Americans and safe and affordable housing.
“If the American revolutionaries were right, that ‘taxation without representation is tyranny,’ D.C. residents must take the initiative to demand statehood if it is ever to be achieved,” he said.
Initial drafts of the city bill called for $1.3 million to be spent on the two shadow senators. But City Council members this year said the positions should not be funded in light of the city’s budget deficit.
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