Jesse L. Jackson was the top vote-getter in the Democratic primary election for D.C. shadow senator last night, gathering more votes than the four other candidates combined.
In complete returns, Jackson led the pack with 85,454 votes, or 57 percent.
The second-place Democratic finisher also will advance to the November general election, and that contest was too close for election officials to call early today. City officials said 4,800 challenged and absentee ballots will not be counted until Friday. Florence Pendleton had 25,349 votes, or 17 percent. She was followed by Harry Thomas Jr., who had 22,401 votes, or 15 percent.
On the Republican side, both candidates advance to the general election. Joan Gillison was the top Republican vote-getter. She had 3,826 votes, or 57 percent. The other Republican, Minton Francis, had 2,909 votes, or 43 percent.
District voters will elect two shadow senators to lobby Congress for statehood.
The Jackson campaign declared a victory about 9:45 p.m. Jackson, who sat in the basement of Israel Baptist Church on Saratoga Avenue NE with about 50 campaign workers and supporters, said he would use a seat as shadow senator to "expand democracy and participate in our city."
Flanked by his wife Jacqueline and a son, Jackson said that if elected, he would seek more access on Capitol Hill, focusing his energies on the Senate Appropriations and Foreign Affairs committees.
In the race for the Democratic nomination for shadow representative, Deairich "Dee" Hunter, a Ward 1 Advisory Neighborhood Commission member, and Charles Moreland, 42, a political consultant, were locked in a virtual dead heat early today, each with 48 percent of the vote.
Jackson is considered a shoo-in to win the Nov. 6 general election. It would be the first elective office for Jackson, who has made two unsuccessful bids for president.
In interviews, several voters said the choice in the Democratic primary for shadow senator was simple. They said they voted for Jackson, and then chose among the other candidates for the second nomination.
Veronica Cook, a U.S. Postal Service worker who lives in Anacostia, said she voted for Jackson "because he is Jesse Jackson. I think he could do well."
Lottie Medley, a retired teacher who lives in Southeast Washington, said she voted for Jackson "because he's got a big mouth and if anybody can do well, he can. I didn't even know who the other candidates were."
"I couldn't have anybody but Jesse," said David V. Crow, 71, a retired resident in Ward 4. "And I did that because he makes people sit up and pay attention."
Jackson faced four in the Democratic primary: Pendleton, 64, a Ward 5 Advisory Neighborhood Commission member; 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, 29, a Ward 5 Advisory Neighborhood Commission member and program coordinator for the Mayor's Youth Leadership Institute.
The D.C. Council approved legislation in March authorizing the election of two unofficial senators and a representative to lobby Congress and the White House for statehood, but they have no legislative authority.
Citing the District's fiscal problems, the council provided no financing for the three offices, which means the lobbyists will have to raise money from private sources to cover their own salaries, the hiring of staffs and renting office space. The council set a salary limit on the lobbying posts of $79,500, the same as the council chairman's pay.
The qualifications and term of office will mirror those of U.S. senators, who serve six years, and representatives, who serve two years.
Howard Lamar Jones, 52, a clinical psychologist, was unopposed in the GOP contest for representative.
Tom Chorlton, 44, a registered lobbyist, will run in the November general election as a Statehood Party candidate for representative.