Michael Brown, 64, is a radio host and one of the District’s shadow senators. He lives in AU Park, right on the D.C.-Maryland border — “literally disenfranchised by inches.”
Neither D.C. nor the federal government pays you a salary. Does anyone pay you?
No. I was a successful businessman for 25 years. I ran my own consulting firm. And my beloved wife works two jobs. Somebody’s got to do this. I got involved because my great-great-great-grandfather fought in the Revolutionary War. My ancestor fought for these rights. He put his life, liberty and property on the line, and here we are 200 years later, and we still don’t have the rights. What would he think of me?
For the readers: You are not Michael Brown, who was on the D.C. Council and convicted of bribery, nor are you Michael Brown of “Heck of a job, Brownie,” head of FEMA during Hurricane Katrina.
No. I always remember to bring the water.
What are your duties as shadow senator?
If you look at the mandate that created our office, we’re supposed to lobby Congress and keep them informed that we’re ready for statehood.
From the outside it doesn’t look like there’s any power to being a shadow senator.
It depends on how you define power. Do you consider it powerful that I’ll speak at an international conference in front of four heads of state? The president of Portugal is going to be there. I’ve had 16 letters published in The Washington Post.
Do you go in when the other senators are voting?
We’re not allowed on the floor of the Senate. They’ll make a special accommodation for us to sit in the gallery. I could take you to lunch, maybe, at the Senate dining room. There are certain courtesies I get.
Why don’t we have regular congressional representation yet in D.C.?
The main reason is because it’s a partisan battle. We have no elected officials that are Republican. We have never voted for a Republican for president.
If we promised to vote Republican, would we get representation?
Well, I’m willing to promise. In the end, the solution’s got to be bipartisan.
Do you think having the middle name Donald will be a drag on your reelection campaign?
I don’t ever use it — I use D. I have the Republican vote all sewn up! All six of them.
Is there something you wish I’d asked about?
If you took the rights away from the people of Oklahoma, there’d be more people from Washington in the streets arguing about that. Why can’t we muster one in 10 — 70,000 people would make all the difference, but we have a rally and 300 people show up. And I wish the city would put some money into this.
Into the cause?
They spent $200 million building a streetcar that nobody rides, and it’s free. And our budget is $235,000 for three offices?
Your office is in the Wilson Building with the city government, not on Capitol Hill. And I notice the sign on your office door is printer paper affixed with tape.
What can you do?