Note: Columnists' deadlines being what they are, William Raspberry was unable to write a piece on the election that was held yesterday. Instead, he offers this report on an election that may never be held.
New Columbia, in its first election since achieving statehood, yesterday elected Bettie Ann Klarke governor. The surprise victory makes Klarke the first minority governor to be elected since Tom Bradley of California.
The state once known as the District of Columbia also elected its first congressional delegation: Walter Marion and Barry Fauntroy for the Senate, and Polly Tucker and Sterling Shackleton to the House. Doug Dixon, who won a landslide victory in his race for city council chairman, expressed chagrin at learning that that office had been abolished as a result of statehood.
Most of the electoral interest, however, centered on the gubernatorial race, which pitted longtime activist Klarke against Patricia Roberts Alexander, former secretary of the Department of the Army, Labor and Urban Fairs (ALUF). The defeated candidate, when asked about plans for future service to New Columbia, responded by raising an eyebrow.
The official outcome of yesterday's election remains in some doubt, as the entire Board of Elections and Ethics was out on strike, under provisions of the New Columbia constitution. There were early indications that some of the defeated candidates would challenge the constitutionality of the first state election decided by a show of hands.
Robert E. Lee Brooke, who was overwhelmingly elected dogcatcher, said he would demand a recount. "The only reason I was elected is that the other candidate failed to campaign against me," he complained.
In other action, New Columbia voters:
* Rejected a referendum to combine future elections with the Instant Lottery drawings, a plan that would have given top winners the choice of either a million dollars or the governorship;
* Adopted a bond issue for a Great Wall to surround the city, both as a revenue-producing tourist attraction and as a practical way of keeping out the jobless millions from other states attracted here by the constitutional guarantee of a job or adequate income in lieu of a job.
* Agreed to sell the Convention Center to Abe Pollin in order that New Columbia residents might be able to hold sporting events, concerts and other money-making activities within the state.
Perhaps the biggest surprise in yesterday's voting was the approval of a resolution to abandon statehood in favor of a return to the system that prevailed until the early 1980s. Backers of the proposal attributed their surprise victory to two main factors: the difficulty of designing a flag with 51 stars, and a Post Office complaint that there is no way to abbreviate New Columbia -- "N.C." already having been spoken for.
"Besides," said a spokesman for the group known as the Majority with a Yen for the Good Old Days (MY GOD), "the only advantage of statehood is that it keeps Congress out of line-by-line consideration of our budget while it debates the size of the federal payment. With the unexpected success of the Instant Lottery, the numbers game and bingo, we no longer need the federal payment. Or Congress either, for that matter."