Jesse L. Jackson's easy dominance in the race for one of two D.C. shadow Senate seats has presented other candidates with a choice: embrace him or fight him. Most, including fellow Democrat Florence H. Pendleton, have reached eagerly for his coattails.
"For Reverend Jackson, his service has been more national, so I think the Pendleton-Jackson team will be a very good Democratic team to get statehood for D.C.," said Pendleton, who touted her own local record.
David L. Whitehead, an independent, has chosen another path.
"Right now, I'm taking hits at Reverend Jackson," Whitehead said. "I'm using the Yeltsin approach: Attack Gorbachev and you become president of Russia."
Whitehead said he is a former CIA analyst now embroiled in a dispute with his former employer. He said his only serious problem is that someone, either Jackson or the CIA, is tearing down his posters.
Minton Francis, a Republican nominee, takes a more cautious approach. His central campaign theme is that "Washingtonians should be represented by a Washingtonian," and he said he looks "somewhat askance" at the sincerity of Jackson's commitment to the District, but he added:
"I believe that people who vote for Reverend Jackson can also vote for me. I would hope to split it with him."
Voters going to the polls Tuesday will elect two shadow senators and a shadow representative to press the District's claim to statehood.
Ten candidates are competing with Jackson for the two symbolic Senate posts: Harry Toussaint Alexander, Lee Andrew Black, John West and Whitehead, all independents; Sam Manuel of the Socialist Workers Party; Republicans Joan Gillison and Francis; Statehood Party candidates Keith Mario Wilkerson and Anthony W. Peacock; and Democratic nominee Pendleton.
To stagger their terms, the top vote-getter will serve six years and the runner-up will serve four.
Three candidates -- Republican Howard Lamar Jones, Democrat Charles J. Mooreland and Statehood Party candidate Tom Chorlton -- are running for a shadow seat in the House of Representatives.
Many of those seeking the shadow seats are first-time political candidates. Few have raised more than $1,000 for the race, and virtually none have citywide name recognition among voters.
Ronald Walters, a Howard University political scientist, attributed the "weak field" to disparaging views of the shadow posts in the news media and among established politicians.
Black, the independent candidate, was so eager for attention that he telephoned to dare a reporter to expose him as an Arlingtonian. Black, who indeed listed a Virginia telephone number with the D.C. Board of Elections, said he will move to the District by Election Day.
Created last spring by the D.C. Council, 10 years after passage of a statehood referendum, the unfunded and unstaffed shadow jobs are intended to dramatize the District's absence of voting representation in Congress. Popularly, the posts are known as shadow seats in the U.S. House and Senate.
There will be no hint of a shadow in the titles on the ballot, which styles the offices as "United States senator" and "United States representative."
"It's not a shadow," Jackson said. "It's United States senator from Washington, shadowing the Senate, petitioning for statehood."
The Senate has followed no consistent pattern in according special recognition to senators elected by states prior to their admission to the Union. The issue has arisen on only six occasions during the last 200 years, with the admission of Tennessee, Michigan, California, Minnesota, Oregon and Alaska.
For example, the Tennessee senators-elect were provided with seats on the Senate floor, while the Alaska senators-elect sat in the diplomatic gallery.
Unsurprisingly, in light of the nature of the office that they seek, most of the 14 shadow candidates support D.C. statehood as an expression of self-determination -- more than justified, they say, by the number, tax payments, and military service of D.C. residents. Still, there are exceptions.
Like Francis, who expressed "some reservations" about statehood, Republican Gillison said "we have to protect ourselves" from the risks that come with "constructing a city-state."
For most of the candidates, the debate is over means, not ends.
Alexander, a former Superior Court judge who has since been disciplined for breaches of professional responsibility, said he would be the best voice for the District on Capitol Hill because "I've been an advocate for freedom, justice and equality for 41 years."
Others divide by strategy. Many -- including Pendleton, Whitehead, West and Peacock -- said they would lobby Congress.
Manuel denounced lobbying. "I don't think any important social gain that's been won by working people in this country has been won by lobbying Congress," he said.
Moreland, the Democratic nominee for shadow representative, is said to be campaigning on a platform of tax protest. The Washington Post reported last month that Moreland has not filed federal tax returns for five years or D.C. tax returns for three.
Jackson, citing the 7 million votes he received as a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, suggested that he could use his clout in the constituencies of other senators and representatives.
Chorlton, whose candidacy for shadow representative has been endorsed by D.C. Council members Hilda Mason and William Lightfoot, said Jackson's high profile will be critical to statehood's prospects.
"I think what we need to complement that is exactly my strong point," he said. "The door to door office grunt work to get the job done."