Does D.C. Count for Hillary Clinton?

It was way back in August of 1992, but I vividly remember a brief conversation I had with then presidential candidate Bill Clinton, who was campaigning through Texas on one of his bus tours. He thought he had a chance to win the Lone Star State.

In Austin, he came off the stage and I asked him how he felt about statehood for D.C. Always the charmer, Clinton told me exactly what I wanted to hear. He said he compared the feelings of D.C. citizens to the “freedom-loving people of Eastern Europe.” Naturally, I asked the follow-up question. “Governor, first term?” He paused a few seconds, then looked me directly in the eye and with that classic pointed finger pronounced: “First term.”

It never came to pass. Yes, there was a historic vote on D.C. statehood in November of 1993, but even with a hefty Democratic majority it only got 153 votes in the House (it needed 218). That was the end of it. It didn’t even get a vote in the Senate; John Glenn and Jim Sasser made sure of that.

I bring up this ancient history because recently presidential candidate Hillary Clinton came out for D.C. statehood in a column she wrote in the Washington Informer. I’m sure she wants to win a big victory in D.C. on June 14. D.C.’s Democratic primary is the last contest before the convention in Philadelphia in July. She should be the overwhelming favorite.

Hillary Clinton has demonstrated deep support all across the country with African American voters. In D.C., the entire political establishment has come out for her. I can see her rolling up huge numbers in Wards 4, 5, 7 and 8. But will we see her actively campaign in D.C.? Does she care enough about D.C. to shake our hands, knock on our doors, hold rallies and tell us in person that she will champion our cause?

Or will D.C. just be an afterthought? Will she take our votes but never appear in our neighborhoods? She has a house in Ward 2 on Whitehaven Street NW. Her record on D.C. is stellar. Immediately after becoming a senator, she was one of the original cosponsors of the D.C. Statehood bill. She also publicly took Tom Daschle to task when he failed to list D.C. statehood as one of his priorities when assuming the role of Senate majority leader. I believe she is sincere and committed to the issue.

The very best scenario would be that, after campaigning in D.C., she stays here on election night next Tuesday and — before a bank of TV cameras and loads of national reporters — reaffirms her support for D.C. statehood. That would mean she’s serious and wants to tell the world where she stands. What a great lift it would give us, proving that D.C. does count.

*Political analyst Mark Plotkin is a contributor to the BBC on American politics and a contributor to Reach him at*


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