CLEVELAND – Shadow Senator Paul Strauss (D-D.C.), a non-voting member of the Senate, praised GOP vice presidential nominee Mike Pence for supporting D.C. statehood in the past.
“Donald Trump, for all my issues with him, has been open to the idea of statehood. He’s said some positive things. He walked them back, which as we know is part of his trend sometimes. Mike Pence, interestingly enough, made a very eloquent statement in favor of voting rights for the District of Columbia on the floor of the House when our bill was being discussed,” Strauss said during an interview with PJM at the Republican National Convention.
“It really is such a great statement that we have reprinted it on palm cards that we are distributing out at the convention, because we want every Republican to read the words of Mike Pence on this particular issue. Now I don’t agree with him on a lot of other issues, but he was right on this. It was a principled position and I am glad, for one, that he came out for it,” he added.
Pence, a former Indiana congressman, spoke on the House floor in support of the District of Columbia Voting Rights Act of 2007.
“The fact that more than half a million Americans living in the District of Columbia are denied a single voting representative in Congress is clearly a historic wrong. The single overarching principle of the American founding was that laws should be based upon the consent of the governed,” he said.
Strauss told PJM presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton has made “strong pro-D.C. statehood comments” in the past. Strauss said he is a “little bit disappointed” in President Obama for not advancing the statehood issue.
“Yeah, we are a little bit disappointed in the results that we got from President Obama. I am optimistic that Secretary Clinton is going to keep her word when she becomes president, which I expect to happen. The main point is, I think, when President Obama first got elected, D.C. wasn’t as ready as it could have been to push statehood,” he said.
“This year, we’re not going to let that happen. We have a referendum on the ballot. D.C. residents will be presenting a new petition to the Congress for a new state. We just redrafted our new constitution. We’re really investing in a lot of efforts so that when statehood comes we’re going to be ready,” he added.
Strauss led an effort to hand out red, white and blue M&Ms with a card attached that read, “Make AMERICA GREAT, ADD The 51st State,” a reference to Trump’s campaign slogan.
The Washington Post reported that Mayor Muriel Bowser flew to Cleveland to attend a D.C. statehood party at the convention but only one GOP delegate attended. Bowser said statehood is a “conservative issue.”
“It’s the conservative principle of having the most government closest to the people, at the local level,” Bowser said.