OTTUMWA, IOWA — Iowans caucused for their party’s presidential nominee on Monday, and some of them heard pitches on a topic that typically stays within District bounds: D.C. statehood.
The District’s delegation of shadow representatives traveled to Iowa over the weekend to build off the momentum of the caucuses and make their case for statehood, urging local Democrat and Republican party chapters to talk about the issue and pass resolutions supporting statehood during their local caucuses.
“We’ve been going around trying to introduce as many people as possible to the issue,” said D.C. shadow Sen. Paul Strauss, an elected official who lobbies for D.C. statehood. “We’ve put a lot of effort in targeting Iowa.”
Shadow Sen. Michael D. Brown and Shadow Rep. Franklin Garcia also made the trip to Iowa. The trio say they have been making progress in Iowa this past year, symbolically anyway.
Strauss first traveled to Iowa last February to stump for the cause. In March, Democrats in Polk County, which includes Des Moines, passed a resolution in support of statehood. The shadow delegation has been using funds from the New Columbia Statehood Commission to buy ads in Iowa ahead of the caucus.
In all, Strauss estimates that about a dozen precincts talked about statehood at their caucuses Monday night.
“Washington, D.C. has a population larger than two other states so, as a matter of fairness, they should have the right to be represented,” Iowa state Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald said in a press release.
An advocacy group called Iowans for D.C. Statehood was launched, and it pushed for precincts to talk about statehood at their caucuses.
“We are Iowans who endorse and encourage citizens and our members of Congress to support statehood and full democracy for the District of Columbia, which will guarantee to the residents of the District of Columbia full congressional voting representation, budget autonomy, and all of the rights that the people of the 50 United States enjoy,” the group’s mission statement reads.
This isn’t the first time statehood advocates have traveled outside the nation’s capital to push for statehood. Strauss traveled to Europe last year to successfully persuade an organization of nationless ethnic groups to include D.C. in its ranks.
So when does Strauss see D.C. becoming a state? He wouldn’t commit to a year, but he was encouraged by small victories in Iowa.
“I’d like to say this year, but I think we still have a lot of work to do,” Strauss said. “We have made a lot of progress making this [more of] a national issue than it has been.”