Florence Pendleton's campaign for a newly created shadow Senate seat has been overshadowed, if you will, by Jesse L. Jackson.
Like others vying for the three nonvoting offices to lobby Congress for D.C. statehood, Pendleton, a Ward 5 advisory neighborhood commissioner, is given so little chance of defeating Jackson that her campaign has been virtually ignored by the media.
With Tuesday's primary in clear sight, Pendleton and other candidates vying for the lobbying jobs -- two unofficial Senate seats and a representative post -- are talking tough about facing Jackson in the primary.
"He's just another opponent," said Pendleton.
"I am not threatened by Jesse," said Joan Gillison, a Republican primary candidate for shadow senator.
The top two vote-getters in the Democratic and Republican primaries for shadow senator go on to the Nov. 6 general election.
Compounding the 11 candidates' concerns about being elected, the issue itself has received scant local attention and remains a murky idea for many District residents.
But some observers say the issue is coming into its own. Kevin Chavous, a member of the Ward 7 Democratic State Committee, said that within the past year the statehood movement has "taken on the fervor of a civil rights issue" amid a national resurgence of black activism.
Harry Thomas Jr., 29, a Democrat running for the Senate seat, said statehood is becoming a major issue for blacks nationally.
"If we got the masses involved, as in the civil rights movement, statehood could be gained fairly easily," said Thomas.
That tactic was raised last month at a meeting of the National Association of Black Organizations, a coalition of groups working to stem social and economic problems facing blacks.
The NAACP and Urban League have adopted resolutions expressing support for statehood. The Southern Christian Leadership Conference approved a similar resolution at its national convention last month.
The spark for that interest is widely attributed to Jackson, 48, who has vigorously promoted D.C. statehood around the country as an extension of the civil rights movement.
Jackson tells audiences he would consider using old civil rights tactics to achieve statehood. "If necessary, we will march. If necessary, we will go to jail," he told reporters recently.
Charles J. Moreland, 42, a Democratic candidate for representative, said many blacks in the District, where residents pay taxes but have no vote in Congress, see a correlation between statehood and civil rights.
"Black people, who have no representation in the Senate, understand how it will benefit them," Moreland said.
Tuesday's election is considered crucial to the movement because the first wave of officeholders will define the issue for the public.
The movement also has suffered from a lack of issues other than the main one -- statehood for D.C. -- to set the candidates apart.
Nevertheless, the candidates are stumping hard. Jackson, who returned Sunday from Iraq, has remained in the area this week, focusing on fund-raising and campaign events.
Other candidates are attending forums and political events, trying to generate interest in their campaigns.
Jackson faces four Democratic primary opponents: Pendleton, 64; James Forman, 61, a Howard University adjunct professor and former civil rights activist; Marc Humphries, 35, a community activist and policy analyst for the Library of Congress research service; and Thomas, a Ward 5 advisory neighborhood commissioner and program coordinator for the Mayor's Youth Leadership Institute.
Gillison, 60, a social worker for D.C. schools, faces Minton Francis in the Republican primary. Francis, 67, is a management consultant and former deputy assistant secretary of defense.
Moreland, 42, a political consultant, faces Deairich Hunter in the Democratic primary campaign for representative. Hunter, 25, is a Ward 1 advisory neighborhood commissioner and the D.C. statehood coordinator for Jackson's national Rainbow Coalition.
Howard Lamar Jones, 52, a clinical psychologist and Ward 4 precinct chairman, is unopposed in the Republican contest for representative.
Tom Chorlton, 44, a registered lobbyist, will run in the November general election as a Statehood party candidate for representative.Staff writer Mary Ann French contributed to this report.