Jesse L. Jackson said yesterday he plans to vote for incumbent Hilda H.M. Mason of the D.C. Statehood Party and Democratic nominee Linda Cropp, rather than Mayor Marion Barry, in the Nov. 6 election for two at-large seats on the D.C. Council.
Jackson, a Democratic nominee for one of two shadow U.S. Senate seats, said he decided to support Mason, a 13-year council veteran, "long before" Barry decided to mount his independent bid for a council seat.
The television personality and civil rights leader also said he wanted to avoid the political controversy surrounding the mayor's campaign, which reached a head this week when a majority of the 13 council members said they are supporting Mason over Barry.
"I do not choose to get in the middle of any kind of spat that goes down," Jackson said during a breakfast meeting with reporters and editors of The Washington Post.
Jackson stressed that his support for Mason, a board member of his National Rainbow Coalition Inc. and a longtime political ally, should not be interpreted as a slap against Barry. "I suppose there'll be many things that we'll work together on because I regard him as a friend," Jackson said of Barry.
Jackson added that he and Barry have not discussed the eight-way race for the two at-large council seats. "He's not asked for my support, and I assumed it was because he knew I was supporting Hilda early on," Jackson said.
"I'm not campaigning against him. It's not anti-him," Jackson said.
Eleven people -- two Democrats, two Republicans, two D.C. Statehood Party members, four independents and one Socialist Workers Party member -- are running for two shadow Senate seats, which are unsalaried, nonvoting posts created by the D.C. Council to lobby for D.C. statehood.
Jackson, a household name who is considered an overwhelming favorite to capture one of the seats, said he would use the position as a platform to discuss not only statehood, but also other issues confronting the District and the rest of the nation.
Voters also will send one shadow lobbyist to the U.S. House of Representatives in next month's election.
Jackson said he believes the shadow senators will have the stature needed to be effective advocates for the District and other causes. "It's not really a shadow senator," he said. "It's a U.S. senator from Washington to shadow the Senate, petitioning for statehood."