Why the District got dissed at the DNC

The big news on Tuesday had everything to do with both Mayor Gray and House Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton when a DC Statehood Rally planned for the downtown of Charlotte went afoul of some other unrelated protestors, who ended up occupying the street near their protest and got the whole thing shutdown. Meanwhile, neither Delegate Norton nor Mayor Gray will find themselves anywhere near the stage or the podium during the four-day DNC lovefest ahead of the acceptance speech from President Barack Obama tonight.

The word from John Stanton of Buzzfeed is that the DC Democratic State Committee (DSC) has one of the worst seats in the house in Charlotte, and shows off the view from their wretched seats, and says that the District has found itself off the speakers’ roster, off the platform list (statehood got the boot), and that’s left party politicos in DC quite upset with the national body.  Michael Brown said to the Washington Informer: “We all love the Democrats, they stand behind us. But they need to stand in front of us, you know.”

It’s no small wonder that the DNC is keeping their distance from the DC DSC, though, given the quantity of scandal that its elected members in the District have racked up just this year. Between Mayor Gray’s apparent shadow campaign and its attendant convictions, and former Chairman Kwame Brown’s felony bank fraud, and former Councilman Tommy Thomas’ in-progress prison sentence for stealing money from youth sports programs and getting kickbacks to throw a 2009 Inaugural Ball, well, I’d keep us as far as humanly possible from the action, too.

One could look at the star treatment that DC GOP got at the RNC this year as a potential contrast. State School Board member Patrick Mara represented the DC GOP amongst others this year and sent dispatches back to DCist, including this floor shoot near the very front of the stage.

While the DC GOP doesn’t have too many office-holders in the District, it’s not hard to see the potential for inroads, given the local party’s platform of good sense and tolerance that differentiate it from the national GOP on a number of levels.  One could even argue that the DC GOP has made strides recently to advance the concept of local budget autonomy, working with Republicans on the DC Affairs subcommittee to work to include language supporting the city’s right to budget for themselves.

“We’re meeting with [Congressman Issa] on a regular basis… on natural Republican issues like Buidget Autonomy. We’re excited about the progress that we’re making,” said DC GOP Executive Director Nick Jeffress this morning by phone.

In fact, one might argue that the DC GOP has seen real results in the movement, as Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) has turned toward the concept of local autonomy for the District of Columbia this past Spring.

Are we close to a turning of the tide? Even Jeffress was quick to note that they are a long way from being a competitive party in the District, however, given the scandals of local Democrats, there must be a breaking point somewhere.

The DC GOP has candidates in this fall’s election in just 3 of the 8 local officers, with At-Large Councilmember (Mary Brooks-Beatty), Ward 7 Councilmember (Ron Moten), and Shadow Senator (Nelson Rimensnyder).

If I were DC DSC Chairman Anita Bonds, I might be looking at the (wo)man in the mirror and wondering where exactly things went so very wrong, and wondering what changes are necessary ahead of this November’s election, and the party’s future. While DC will remain staunchly blue this Fall, what good is that if you can’t get the National Party to return your phonecalls on the big issues like Statehood?

I live and work in the District of Columbia. I write at We Love DC, a blog I helped start, I work at Technolutionary, a company I helped start, and I’m happy doing both. I enjoy watching baseball, cooking, and gardening. I grow a mean pepper, keep a clean scorebook, and wash the dishes when I’m done. Read Why I Love DC.

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3 thoughts on “Why the District got dissed at the DNC

  1. Honestly, I believe we’re reading too much into this. The DC delegation didn’t get good seats because they don’t need to have good seats because seats don’t matter. Not to sound harsh, but that’s just how it is. It barely even matters if the swing states are up front at this point since the nomination was obvious and the roll call wasn’t historic as it was in 2008.

    The convention is about making the case to reelect the President. The people selected to speak are the ones who can best make that argument. To that extent, yes, DC’s scandals did not help our case for having someone speak. Before there would even be any discussion the recent scandals, there would need to be a reason to showcase someone from the District. We didn’t even get that far.

    Ultimately, one of the problems is that we have a serious lack of leadership in the District. We have no rockstar leaders like Cory Booker, and we don’t even have any boring leaders like Dannel Malloy. There’s a vacuum and it’s presently being filled by Marion Barry.

    That said, I don’t begrudge Barry for making noise about DC’s lack of representation — it’s important to make noise. His complaints about seats, though, was petty.

    DC’s lack of representation is an exceedingly difficult problem to solve. Giving the delegate a full vote and providing budget autonomy are the only realistic outcomes, but for many that’s not good enough. Statehood has been and will likely be for a long time a non-starter. Retrosession to Maryland sounds great on paper but also seems difficult to achieve.

    I don’t blame the DNC for not showcasing DC. We didn’t have a rockstar to sell the case for Obama’s reelection and the only thing we wanted to talk about was an unsolvable problem. That’s not the kind of stuff that you want to highlight when putting on the biggest campaign advertisement of the year.

    If, and when the President is reelected, I would hope to see some bipartisan efforts, between the DC GOP, DC Democrats, Congressional leaders to address DC’s problems.

    But right now, as much as I hate to say it, there’s bigger battles being fought over equality, the right to vote, and the very soul of our country. I’m glad there’s people being persistent on DC’s rights, but we need some real leadership to step up and real leadership isn’t going to gripe over convention seats that don’t matter.

  2. Stroup makes some very salient points. However, if Ms. Norton et al seriously want to work with Republicans in Congress, she can start by supporting and cosponsoring H.R. 3731, the No Taxation Without Representation Act, which is similar to legislation she offered in the 107th Congress.

  3. Norton is so disrespected by her own party that they refused to let her speak at the Democratic nominating convention in North Carolina. In the early years of her service as a Delegate, the 74 year old, 11 term incumbent used to submit a Bill giving DC residents equal status with Americans in Guam and Puerto Rico, who also have no Senators and only Delegates to Congress, but because of this do not pay federal income taxes. Norton dropped that Bill around 1996. I guess a Democrat just could not pass by taxing people, even when you don’t let them vote. If Norton weren’t a blindered partisan she might try to embarass these tea partiers she speaks about by getting them to exempt DC residents from taxation if they cannot vote (the tea partiers are supposed to like the Boston Tea Party after all). She might even point out to them that having the federal government refuse to recognize gay marriages DC and other states consider valid is a violation of the 10th Amendment and the rights reserved to the states. But as a Federalista who believes in expanding Federal and Executive power, Norton can’t and won’t imagine or make those arguments. Thus her party managed not to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act when it help all 3 branches of government in 2009 and 2010. She is out of juice and must go!