Mayor Gray announced that he’ll be going to Tampa, Florida this year for the Republican National Convention as reported by Tim Craig in the Washington Post to push the Statehood cause to members of the Grand Old Party. It’s a pretty good idea although I think it will be logistically awkward since it’s largely a subject to be ignored…unless the Mayor follows one of two routes:
- The first route is old school traditional organizing and outreach leading up to the convention. The Mayor and his people, since they all live and work in the District should spend time between now and the GOP Convention reaching out to members of Congress who will all be there and educate them on the Statehood cause and the logistics of admitting New Columbia into the Union. Waiting until the convention to start outreach and education is a losing proposition (look at Council member Michael Brown’s failed effort in New Hampshire as evidence). So if the Mayor doesn’t want to do the grunt work of reaching out to hundreds of members of Congress before the convention then he must do the second route:
- This second option is something that he’s proven he’ll do: civil disobedience. He should cause a great big old stink down there about why the party that champions states rights and local control over local affairs is so blatantly hypocritical when it comes to Statehood for the District. Getting arrested or some other type of direct action in a thoughtful and well orchestrated event could bring the Statehood cause some National attention while more importantly inspiring those of us back in the District to get more involved.
I believe those are the Mayor’s two options but he also needs to work with the DC delegates to the Republican convention. Make them become our Statehood advocates as well. The Mayor should work with those District GOP delegates to develop a strategy together to work the crowds in Tampa and to get entry into the smoke-filled rooms where the good old boys make decisions for the party.
At the same time the Mayor needs to be equally vigilant at the Democratic Party Convention because too often the Democrats say they support us but then are unwilling to push the Statehood cause when they’re in control of Congress. If the Democrats are so supportive of Statehood for the District why are there only 17 cosponsors on H.R. 265 presently? Shouldn’t folks be tripping over themselves to sign-on as cosponsors? The Mayor must be an equal opportunity advocate for Statehood and must be an equal opportunity critic of those who either stand ardently against us or indifferent in times when moral and righteous leadership is needed.
The Mayor is on the right path but he has considerable work to do to make his trips a success.