Gray Urges DNC to Put D.C. Statehood in its Platform
||Washington Times (DC)
||Wednesday, August 22, 2012
D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray is lobbying the Democratic National Committee to put D.C. statehood in its party platform ahead of its convention next month in Charlotte, a hopeful push within his own party after Republicans slapped away any talk of D.C. voting rights and urged city lawmakers to relax gun laws in the nation’s capital.
The Democratic Party platform in 2000 said D.C. residents are entitled to “autonomy in the conduct of their civic affairs, full political representation as Americans who are fully taxed, and statehood.” Yet the subject was not included in the party’s platforms for 2004 and 2008.
“It should be restored in 2012,” Mr. Gray said, noting they must seize every opportunity to tout the issue. “This only comes around every four years.”
Mr. Gray has been a vocal supporter of D.C. statehood and wants Congress to give the District more latitude in how it spend its local tax dollars. He was among dozens of protesters arrested on Capitol Hill in early 2011 during a protest over legislative riders that affected abortion rights in the District and he testified before state legislators in New Hampshire this year in an unsuccessful bid to gain support for D.C. statehood.
Earlier this month Mr. Gray and Anita Bonds, chairwoman of the D.C. Democratic Committee, sent a letter to DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz that asked the party to support giving D.C. votes in Congress and reserve a speaking slot for Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District’s non-voting member of Congress, at the convention.
For now, Mr. Gray’s spokesman said the administration is “still working out the game plan and what exactly our next steps are.”
Meanwhile, the Republican Party’s platform committee on Tuesday shot down talk of expanded voting rights for the District through an amendment by James Bopp, a delegate from Indiana.
“My view is that our party has been clear on this proposition,” Mr. Bopp told the committee. “That we have opposed statehood.”
He said the District did not need more representation on the Hill because it has Mrs. Norton to promote its interest and a Democratic Party “of, by and for the federal government — so they have plenty of representation in Congress.”
On Wednesday, Mr. Gray condemned the move as “undemocratic.”
“It is not consistent with the principles upon which this nation was founded. We all know that,” he said.
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