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D.C. To Push For Statehood

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D.C. is taking its statehood campaign nationwide, by appealing to legislators in other states to pass resolutions of support. This sticker advocating for D.C. 51 -- D.C. as the 51st state -- is part of the campaign.
Patrick Madden
D.C. is taking its statehood campaign nationwide, by appealing to legislators in other states to pass resolutions of support. This sticker advocating for D.C. 51 -- D.C. as the 51st state -- is part of the campaign.

The District has set its sights on becoming the 51st state, and the city is launching a nationwide campaign to press for statehood.

Council Chairman Kwame Brown channeled his inner "Braveheart" for the roll-out of D.C.’s new statehood campaign, shouting, "Are we ready for some freedom," to a crowd gathered for the launch Nov. 8.

"Let’s get on Facebook, let’s tweet, let’s see if we can get 10,000 tweeter friends as soon as we can," said Brown. "I think we need to get this word out that we are so not represented in Congress and it is time for it to end.”

To support the effort, D.C. has set up a new website and is preparing to blanket the city with bus advertisements. But the real work will take place outside D.C.’s borders. The strategy is to lobby state legislatures around the country to pass ceremonial resolutions supporting District statehood. 

"We have to take this show on the road," said Council member David Catania Tuesday. "We have convinced ourselves, we have petitioned our Congress, they do not listen, they will not listen. The only redress we have is in our state capitals." Catania says he has already convinced a friend in the New Hampshire state legislature to introduce a measure.

But in order to become "New Columbia" as city leaders have dubbed it, the District is going to need more than ceremonial resolutions. A constitutional amendment allowing statehood would have to be ratified by 38 states.

“When you start with the resolution part, then, when its time for them to have a vote it’s not something they haven't heard of before," explains Council member Michael Brown. "There has already been a marketing campaign, advocacy, and education." 

Until recently, city leaders have been focused on securing limited voting rights in Congress, not full-fledged statehood, which is considered to be a much more difficult proposition.

But Michael Brown disagrees with critics who call the effort unrealistic.

"I tell you it’s not realistic at all if we don’t do anything," he said Tuesday.  "The only way it is realistic if have a campaign that is aggressive and we start to market to residents around country and get regular residents involved in this plight as well."

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