Del. Norton deserves reelection to Congress

Friday, September 3, 2010

DEL. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) is faulted by her opponent in the Sept. 14 primary for not being able to deliver voting rights to the city. This failure, even with solid Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress, is why challenger Douglass Sloan thinks that she should be replaced. That Ms. Norton defines her role more broadly -- and has ably represented the District despite not having a vote -- is the very reason voters should reelect her.

Ms. Norton, who has represented District interests since 1991, faces an unusually spirited challenge. Mr. Sloan, who owns a public affairs consulting firm, has experience working for former mayor Anthony A. Williams and former D.C. Council member Harold Brazil. He's an engaging newcomer with the right priorities of full voting representation and education reform, but his argument about the District needing a new representative in Congress falls flat. Indeed, the fact that Mr. Sloan singles out Ms. Norton for the failure of Congress to give the city a vote in the House shows a naivete about political realities and how the Hill operates.

No one has fought harder for voting representation than Ms. Norton. Equally significant, she has been smart and strategic in getting important benefits for the District. She managed to have the District treated as a state in the health-care reform bill, thus saving the city $50 million by providing health care for uninsured D.C. residents. She insisted the District be treated as a state for federal stimulus spending, too. She helped cleanse the city budget of noxious, congressionally imposed riders that prevented the District from spending its money on important projects such as needle exchanges. Now, she is focusing on trying to get budget autonomy for the city.

We have had our disagreements with Ms. Norton -- notably regarding her opposition to the D.C. school voucher program -- but we value her commitment to the city and the tenacity of her leadership, and so we endorse Eleanor Holmes Norton in the Democratic primary. Missy Reilly Smith is unopposed in the Republican primary. Also on the ballot are candidates for shadow representative for which we offer no endorsement because the office carries no real responsibilities and hurts the city's efforts to be taken seriously.

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