DC Mayor Takes Statehood Dreams To RNC

(Street Sense | Photo by Matailong Du/Flickr, no changes made)

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Steve Birr Vice Reporter
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D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser is taking an unexpected trip to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland this week to promote her efforts to make the District the nation’s 51st state.

Bowser will host several meetings in Cleveland on the issue of statehood and promote the cause on media outlets in the region. Bowser is also slated to attend an event organized by the U.S. Conference of Mayors this week during the Republican National Convention, reports NBC Washington.

Bowser took the statehood message to national audiences Thursday during appearances on MSNBC’s Morning Joe and CNN’s Legal View.

The D.C. Council voted unanimously to approve a referendum July 12 to put the question of statehood to District voters in November. Mayor Muriel Bowser presented the referendum to the Council in an effort to turn the heat up on Congress to hold a vote on the contentious issue. Even if residents pass the referendum in November, Congress will still have to hold a vote, which is unlikely given Republican opposition to statehood, reports The Washington Post.

Longtime statehood advocates are extremely critical of the current process and argue the voice of the people has been silenced. Despite holding a “constitutional convention” in June, residents criticized its structure and transparency. There were no elected delegates representing community interests, and at the end of the day, the New Columbia Statehood Commission had final say on what the document included. Residents had no real power to make their requests binding. (RELATED: DC Council Powers Toward Statehood, Frustrated Voters Left Behind)

“I’m not going to support it, because I don’t know what I’ll be voting for,” Ann Loikow, with the activist group DC Statehood Yes We Can, told The Washington Post. “This whole process is a sham. They’re not offering us democracy – they’re offering us autocracy, and they’re the autocrats that are going to keep running it.”

The New Columbia Statehood Commission finalized a constitution in June and presented it to the D.C. Council. The constitution would establish a 21 seat state legislature, a change from the original draft that would have simply elevated the 13 seat D.C. Council to the state’s legislative body. Residents will be voting to approve this draft, however the Council declined to take a final vote on the language in the draft and said they will only vote on it if the ballot referendum passes in November.

After a formal request from Bowser in June, the Democratic National Committee placed statehood on their draft platform for the convention.

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