A protest movement candidate is shaking up the District's little-noticed contests for shadow representative and shadow senator for Congress, injecting a dose of controversy in an election year in which incumbents are heavily favored.
Adam Eidinger, the D.C. Statehood Green Party nominee for shadow representative -- one of two unpaid, non-voting local offices whose job is to lobby for statehood or voting representation -- promises two years of disruption to dramatize the District's case if elected. He faces shadow Rep. Ray Browne (D), who is seeking a second term.
In other races, first-term D.C. shadow Sen. Paul Strauss (D) faces competition from D.C. Statehood Green challenger Joyce Robinson-Paul and Norma Sasaki, a Republican who won a place on the ballot as a write-in candidate in the primary.
Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), the District's six-term non-voting member of Congress and sole federal office holder, faces independent challenger Pat Kidd, a Ward 4 ANC commissioner who ran for delegate in 1998 and for D.C. Council in 1996 and 2000.
Eidinger, an anti-globalization protest organizer and media consultant, vowed to crash the swearing-in of new voting House members in January until arrested, to lead a campaign by District elected officials to withhold their federal income taxes and to organize a general strike to expose the moral injustice of denying 570,000 residents representation in Congress.
"Working behind the scenes and in the shadows hasn't gotten us anywhere in the last 30 years," said Eidinger, a first-time candidate from Adams-Morgan who has raised $4,000 for his campaign. He said his goal is to "put local Republican and Democratic leaders' feet to the fire . . . and to get them some competition for once."
No Statehood Green candidate won more than 20 percent of the vote in the District's 2000 elections.
Browne, a Georgetown insurance executive, longtime civic leader and supporter of Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D), has led efforts across the country to collect resolutions of support from local and state elected officials for D.C. voting representation. So far he has gathered a dozen pledges.
Browne said Eidinger's ideas, while welcome, are not new, substantive or effective. A general strike would be weakened because most Washington workers are not city residents, and District government employees are barred by law from lobbying Congress for voting rights. Browne said that withholding income taxes would lead to criminal sanctions.
"I've heard a lot of noise, but I haven't heard any message," Browne said. Browne, who said he is spending about $5,000, promised to do more outreach to Republicans in Congress.
In other races, Strauss, a lawyer from Tenleytown, is running on his support for statehood, congressional voting representation and "any intermittent steps along the way," including greater power for shadow representatives and senators. "Because we've made a lot of progress, it's the wrong time for me to stop the efforts I began in my first term," said Strauss, whose campaign has raised about $40,000.
Robinson-Paul, a lifelong District resident from Ward 5, 16-year Advisory Neighborhood Commission member and civic activist, is campaigning for statehood. "Voting representation would not change the oversight relationship between Congress and the District of Columbia," Robinson-Paul said, including control over the local budget, laws and courts. "The best way to accomplish both self-government and voting representation in Congress is through statehood."
Sasaki, a book and antique seller from Chevy Chase whose son is a GOP operative, said she decided to run when she saw no Republican candidate. "I really believe to get the message out . . . that we have to reach the Republicans in Congress as much as the Democrats. Having a Republican would help do that."
Norton, a Georgetown University law professor and former chair of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunities Commission, has waged a low-key race, given a nominal challenger and $147,534 in campaign cash. Norton has adopted the theme, "Eleanor for Our Vote!" She cites her long-standing quest to expand District voting representation.
Kidd, a former District government employee, said she is running because she believes she and other residents are being denied constitutional safeguards, such as adequate access to the courts.