Former D.C. Council member Harry Thomas Jr. has abandoned a bid for his old Ward 5 seat on the council and instead will seek to become the city’s next shadow representative.
“I believe that D.C. will never get to be where it should be until we have statehood,” Thomas told The Informer. “The Jan. 6 insurrection brought to light the inequalities that we have in this city. While the privileged insurrections were housed in better conditions at the D.C. Jail, the normal residents were in bad conditions. I think if D.C. were a state, we would be able to build a better jail and treat everyone equally.”
This is not the first time Thomas has sought a congressional shadow seat. In 1990, he ran for shadow senator against the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr. but lost to the civil rights leader and two-time presidential candidate in the Democratic primary.
Thomas served on the council from 2007-2012, but resigned after pleading guilty to stealing public funds and serving time in prison as a result.
Thomas, currently a Ward 5 committeeman on the D.C. Democratic State Committee, to challenge shadow Rep. Oye Owolewa in the June 21 Democratic Party primary.
As the shadow representative, Thomas plans to tap into returning citizen and fraternal networks nationally to galvanize support for D.C. statehood. He also wants to revive an organizing tactic utilized by former D.C. Del. Walter Fauntroy.
“I remember Fauntroy would go into the districts of members of Congress that were hostile to D.C.,” Thomas said. “He would speak to the African Americans in the district and tell them about what their congressman was not doing for D.C. That would help turnout African Americans and I will do the same. We will get these people out of office who don’t fully support voting rights for all people.”
The shadow representative position is unpaid but that doesn’t faze Thomas.
“I am not running for this to get paid,” he said. “I will say if D.C. wants to be serious about statehood, there needs to be money put behind it. We need resources and people to move the cause forward.”
Thomas’ departure leaves former Council member Vincent Orange, former Bowser administration official Faith Gibson Hubbard, D.C. Board of Education member Zachary Parker, Ward 5 Democrats Chairman and Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Gordon Fletcher and Lauren Rogers, a commissioner, as the remaining candidates for the Democratic nomination.
Contrary to published reports, Thomas said he hasn’t endorsed Hubbard for the council seat.
“What I said is that Ward 5 hasn’t had a female representing it,” he said. “We are the only ward that hasn’t had a female council member. I definitely think that needs to change. Most people think I was talking about Hubbard, but Lauren is also in the race.”