BenCarson1
Dr. Ben Carson is a 2016 GOP presidential candidate. (Photo courtesy of www.bencarson.com)

The only African American candidate for president in 2016 recently scored a political victory in the District, but he is ambiguous on if the city should become a state.

In a straw poll conducted by the District of Columbia Republican Party on July 20 at the Wonder Bread Factory in Northwest,presidential hopeful Dr. Ben Carson received 44 percent of the vote, far outpacing former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (17 percent), U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) with 11 percent, and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker at seven percent.

“I am humbled by the support shown at the D.C. GOP Straw Poll,” said Carson, an internationally known neurosurgeon. “Even in our nation’s capital, Republicans recognize the need to change the culture of government here.”

Carson was the keynote speaker at the straw poll and spoke about the need for children to have school vouchers instead of being stuck in bad public schools, endorsed a proposal to tax income at 10 percent for everyone, and praised capitalism as the best thing for people of color and the poor. He also restated his opposition to the president’s health care plan, saying it is an instrument to redistribute wealth. He added that the U.S. is doing little to combat Islamic extremists.

Carson’s win in the District spurred discussion among some political observers about his stand on D.C. statehood. The Republican National Committee and the D.C. Republican Party have never embraced statehood fully and many national Republicans such as Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush think that a constitutional amendment needs to be passed in order for the city to be a state.

Some Republicans, like former D.C. Council member Carol Schwartz and Clinton special prosecutor Ken Starr, who is now the president of Baylor University, think that the District should have voting representation in the Congress but not statehood. Schwartz and Starr believe that can be done by a bill in the House and Senate that is approved by the president.

Nelson Rimensynder, a longtime D.C. Republican activist, said the District should become a territory like Guam and American Samoa before it achieves statehood. Some members of Congress, such as U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), say the District should retrocede or become a part of Maryland specifically in order for its citizens to have representation in Congress.

Carson told the {AFRO} that he has no objection to the District becoming the 51st state, but there are issues that need to be resolved. “There are a lot of things that D.C. doesn’t have when it comes to infrastructure,” he said. “For example, D.C. doesn’t have an agriculture infrastructure and that could be a real problem when it involves being a state. People who support D.C. statehood need to think long and hard about things like that.”

Carson said he is aware District residents pay federal taxes but have no voting representation in the U.S. Congress. “Perhaps it would be better if the District could have voting representation in Maryland or Virginia,” he said.

Virginia Strickland lives in the District and attended the straw poll. She supports Carson’s presidential bid even though she is not a staunch Republican. “I consider the person I am voting for not the party, but I believe that Dr. Carson is a man of great intellectual depth,” Strickland said. “He has the ability to give thought to a situation and nobody’s doing that these days.”

Carson declared his candidacy for the 2016 presidential Republican nomination on May 4.