Joe Biden is the Democratic nominee for president. (WI File Photo)

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden didn’t mention his support for the District becoming the 51st state during his acceptance address on Aug. 20 with some advocates expressing disappointment while others said getting President Trump defeated in November remains the priority.
Anise Jenkins, executive director for Stand Up! for Democracy, a pro-statehood organization, said she was chagrined that Biden didn’t mention the District’s aspiration for full political rights and autonomy.
“I am very disappointed,” Jenkins said. “It is a part of the Democratic Party platform. The Democratic Party has not put D.C. statehood on the front burner for many years and I don’t know why.”
Since District residents became eligible to vote in presidential elections in 1964, the city has supported the Democratic candidate for president overwhelmingly. Despite the District’s support of Democrats, no presidential nominees have addressed statehood in an acceptance address or Democratic advocated it as president in a State of the Union address, according to research by the Informer.
However, this year Biden has gone on record supporting D.C. statehood. On Feb. 25, 51 for 51, a group lobbying the U.S. Senate to change its rules so it would take only 51 senators to vote on a D.C. statehood bill instead of the usual 60 required to prevent a filibuster, announced Biden embraced their cause.
“Vice President Biden has been fighting for representation for D.C. for decades and we’re proud to have him as an ally in this fight,” Ty Hobson-Powell, a leader with 51 for 51, said in a statement. On June 2, Biden easily won the District’s Democratic presidential primary with 75.97 percent of the vote, followed by Sens. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) at 12.85 percent and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) at 10.04 percent. While neither the D.C. Democratic Party nor the statehood movement officially requested Biden to mention the District’s quest to become a full member of the union during his address, Stanley Mayes, a Ward 1 Democrat, said it he would have preferred a statehood mention by the former vice president.
“I am always looking for people to promote the issue and thought it would have been great for him to say something about it,” Mayes said.
In contrast, Ward 4 Democratic activist Douglas Sloan said Biden’s non-mention of statehood didn’t bother him.
“Democrats are now aware of statehood and how it will benefit them with two senators,” Sloan said. “If he chose not to mention it, it was probably due to strategy. The Democrats don’t want D.C. statehood to become a central issue, they want to do what is necessary to defeat Trump and not mentioning statehood may help do that.”
Mayes agreed with Sloan in not mentioning statehood as a strategy.
“We have to get Trump out of there,” he said. “We have to take care of that first. Mentioning statehood might deter some people from supporting Biden so we can wait until the election is over and the discussion becomes ripe again.”

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James Wright Jr.

James Wright Jr. is the D.C. political reporter for the Washington Informer Newspaper. He has worked for the Washington AFRO-American Newspaper as a reporter, city editor and freelance writer and The Washington...

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