D.C. Dem Delegates Prep for Statehood Fight at Convention

by: James Wright Special to the AFRO jwright@afro.com
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D.C. Council member Jack Evans (Ward 2) is poised to represent D.C. at the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia. (AFRO File Photo)

Democrats in the District of Columbia selected delegates to the 2016 Democratic National Convention scheduled for July 25-28 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. As part of the platforms, several political leaders said they will fight for the District’s statehood.

“We need our people in Philadelphia to push for D.C. statehood and voting rights,” Lee Wilson, who works for an association that advocates for minority contractors, said. “We had rallies in Denver [2008 convention] and we would go to other delegations’ hotels and talk to them. We should focus on the big states like California and Texas to ask them to push for statehood.”

The District will send 45 delegates to the national convention, which is calculated based on the number of Democratic elected officials and the level of support for the party. D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D), D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D), D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D), and D.C. Council member Anita Bonds (D-At Large), who serves as the chair of the D.C. Democratic State Committee (DCDSC) are among those considered automatic or super delegates who didn’t have to go through the May 21 election process.

For the purpose of delegate selection, Washington, D.C. is divided into two congressional districts. Congressional District 1 consists of Wards 1, 2, 6 and 8 while Congressional District 2 encompasses Wards 3, 4, 5 and 7. The presidential camps of former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) were the candidates on the ballot.

The DNC stipulates that there must be an equitable balance of gender and race for potential delegates.

The Clinton supporters for District 1 are D.C. Council member Jack Evans (D-Ward 2), Ward 2 Democratic activist John Fanning, retired labor chief Joslyn Williams, D.C. Council member Brianne Nadeau (D-Ward 1), Ward 8 advisory neighborhood commissioner Mary Cuthbert, and activists Sheila White and Susana Baranano. The Clinton supporters for District 2 are D.C. Democratic State Committee members Charles Gaither and James Bubar, Ward 7 political leader Lee Wilson, former Ward 3 Democratic chairman Shelley Tomkin, DCDSC member Linda Gray, and Ward 4 Democrats president Candace Nelson.

The Sanders supporters for District 1 are Jeff Cruz, Chuck Rocha, Kristian Smith and Rita Collins. The District 2 supporters are Ann Hume Loikow, David Harlan Sheon and Stephen Frum.

Many voters were surprised to see Evans campaigning to be a delegate given his 25 years of service on the D.C. Council. “I am not a super delegate so I have to work to be elected like everyone else,” Evans told the AFRO.

The results of the June 14 primary will determine which delegates go to the convention. For example, if Sanders gets at least 15 percent of the vote in a district, he gets one of his delegates to go to the convention. If he gets 29 percent of the vote, he gets two delegates (male and female) and if he wins a district, all of his candidates will go and it will be the Clinton camp that will make their determination by who will go to the convention based on the top voter getters.

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