Jackson likely to be chosen D.C.'s 'shadow senator'

November 03, 1990|By Arch Parsons | Arch Parsons,Washington Bureau of The Sun

WASHINGTON -- The Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, who has been something of a political nomad since he sought the Democratic nomination for president in 1988, appears certain to get voters' approval next week to take up residency at an oasis of his own creation: the post of "shadow senator" from the District of Columbia.

Washingtonians are expected to elect Mr. Jackson to the post on Tuesday, giving him a job for which the sole duty will be lobbying for district statehood. He would be an employee of the city -- but at no pay.

The clergyman-activist-politician bristles at any intimation that the job would be just a temporary station on his way to another run for the presidency in 1992 -- although he acknowledges that he "may run" for that office again.

"Our numbers, our blood and our taxes qualify us" for statehood, he told Washingtonians in campaign speeches this week.

It was a typical Jackson week: making speeches, meeting with campaign volunteers at Washington churches, greeting voters at open markets and subway stops, making motivational talks to high school students and ending with a quick trip to New York City to join New York Daily News workers on their picket line.

Although he has been campaigning as "Jesse Jackson for U.S. (( Senate," Mr. Jackson -- or whoever should win the "shadow" senator seat -- would be far removed from that body in status if elected.

The "shadow" senator won't be able to work out of the Senate office buildings on Capitol Hill, will have no automatic access to the Senate floor and, most importantly, will not be eligible to cast a Senate vote.

But Mr. Jackson has insisted that, once elected, he should be regarded by full-fledged senators "as a peer," and has noted that he will have been elected by "a jurisdiction larger than those represented by 10 senators."

Even before the primary, Mr. Jackson met with Senate Majority ** Leader George J. Mitchell, D-Maine, to discuss the privileges he might be accorded as a "shadow" senator. After the meeting, an aide to Mr. Mitchell said his office would study precedents to see what privileges "shadow" delegations to Congress have

been accorded in the past.

Eight states have successfully used the so-called "Tennessee Plan," which features the use of "shadow" delegations, to press Congress to enact legislation as a means of achieving statehood.

The first state to be admitted through this strategy was Tennessee in 1796. The most recent state to be successful under the plan was Alaska, in 1956.

Mr. Jackson is one of 11 candidates vying for two district "shadow" senator posts, while three other candidates seek the single post of "shadow" representative. In addition, the district already has a delegate to Congress, who has no vote in the House of Representatives but does serve on House committees and draws the pay of a congressman.

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