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Republicans make up a small minority in the District of Columbia; just 7 percent of D.C. voters supported Republican Senator John McCain in 2008. But this week Washington's delegates to the Republican National Convention get a treat: they are among thousands of GOP colleagues assembling in Tampa. Bob Kabel, Chairman of D.C.'s Republican party, talks with WAMU Morning Edition Host Matt McCleskey about the group's work at the convention.
On the mood among the D.C. delegation in Tampa: "The mood is very positive. Due to the storm, today's the first full day, and it will be very long day, doing a lot of the biz that needs to be transacted," Kabel says. "Then there's the speakers this afternoon and evening, wrapping up with Governor Chris Christie, so we're all very excited about that."
On a voting representative in Congress versus statehood: "It's an educational process for D.C. voting rights. As people change at the RNC and so forth, it's a learning process," Kabel says. "The D.C. party was one of the first supporters of former Rep. Tom Davis's legislation on D.C. voting rights, which would have provided D.C. with a full voting member of Congress, and would've provided … Utah with another member. "That's still the approach we favor; we do not favor statehood."
On how the D.C. Republican party, which urges voting representation in Congress for the District, reconciles the GOP's decision to oppose D.C. statehood in its platform: "I think we're treated better this time by almost any standard, than we have been in the past, We're pleased by that," Kabel says. "Gov. Bob McDonnell of Virginia was a supporter of enhanced D.C. autonomy on our budget … but at the last minute someone came in and eliminated that, so we're very disappointed by that. On the other hand, when we gain the support of prominent Republicans like Governor Bob McDonnell, we're very enthused that we're making progress."
On the D.C. GOP's differences from the national party on marriage equality: We actually have a provision in ours that supports marriage equality, so I think we're probably the only state Republican party in the country that has done that," Kabel says. "We understand the reality of the platform committee … the very strong conservatives make a very strong effort to become members of the platform committee. We're not running on it necessarily; there's a lot of really good things in there about employment, and how to create a more vibrant economy from a Republican point of view, but as far as marriage equality, we understood the recommendation for a constitutional amend on marriage was going to be in there, and it is, so we just move on from here.
D.C. Public Schools is abandoning longtime school food provider Chartwells in the wake of allegations of poor food quality and fraud and moving forward with new vendors for 2016. But, questions remain about the selection process and future oversight.