New D.C. Statehood Campaign Targets Presidential Candidate Sen. Bennet in Primary States

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Wednesday, July 17, 2019


New D.C. Statehood Campaign Targets Presidential Candidate Sen. Bennet in Primary States 

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The 51 for 51 D.C. statehood coalition launched a six-figure ad campaign Wednesday, urging Sen. Michael Bennet to reconsider his opposition to making D.C. the 51st state with only 51 votes in the Senate. Print and digital ads will run in early primary states, as well as Colorado, urging Senator Bennet to reverse his position and asking voters to call his office to discuss their concerns.

J’Ta Freeman, a leading youth advocate for D.C. statehood who has traveled to Iowa and South Carolina to fight for the issue, stars in a digital video ad asking Senator Bennet to reconsider his position. She is a rising freshman at Howard University and is the co-youth Mayor of Washington, D.C., and co-chair of Students Demand Action. (Watch the video.)

“This experience is important to me because I have the opportunity to advocate for the residents of my city who feel like they don’t have a voice in this democracy. I think it’s important to educate people about this campaign because outside of D.C. people are largely unaware that we don’t have the same rights as everyone else,” said Freeman.

51 for 51 has directly asked 12 presidential candidates to pledge their support for making DC the 51st state with 51 votes in the Senate. So far, only 1 has refused—Senator Michael Bennet.

(View the ads featured in the Des Moines Register, the Union Leader, the Nevada Appeal, The State, and the Denver Post.)

“Many presidential candidates have proposed outstanding progressive reforms to address the problems that have set our country back for too long. But these reforms will never become laws unless the Senate abolishes the filibuster, which Mitch McConnell will use to veto every Democratic proposal. If presidential candidates are serious about making real change, they must commit to ending this unnecessary tradition. We urge Michael Bennet to get realistic about what is possible in Washington and admit that the filibuster has to go,” said Ezra Levin, Co-Executive Director of Indivisible.

Washington, D.C. residents, pay more in federal taxes per capita than the residents of any other state, despite not have voting representation in Congress. Moreover, D.C. residents overwhelmingly face interference from Congress on issues ranging from local budgets and marijuana regulation to reproductive rights and gun violence prevention.

A recent survey by Navigator Research found that 42 percent of voters support D.C. statehood with only 34 percent opposed. Importantly, however, voters who were more informed about the issue were more likely to support making D.C. the 51st state. Among respondents who said they had heard a lot or some about D.C. statehood, the margin for support grew from +8 to +18.

“As Coloradans, the representatives that we elect and send to Washington can cast votes on our behalf in the House and Senate. Representation in Congress is the cornerstone of our democratic system. But 700,000 people in Washington, D.C. don’t have that right. Not only do they not have a voice in Congress but Congress sees fit to meddle in the District’s affairs—standing in the way of reproductive rights legislation, common sense gun laws, and other important efforts. We’re disappointed that Michael Bennet—who represents us in the Senate and who wants to lead our nation as president—does not think that giving 700,000 D.C. residents the right to self determination and representation in Congress is worth changing an arcane Senate rule that stands in its way, and we urge him to reconsider his position,” said Annette Moore and Dawn Reinfeld, Co-Founders of Blue Rising, a Women-led, Colorado-based, grassroots political action committee.

“Every four years, Iowa gets to pick the president. We have the opportunity to talk about important issues, face to face, with the people who want to lead our nation. At the top of my list is making sure that the 700,000 people who live in Washington, D.C.. have the same representation in Congress that I have. I’ve had the opportunity to talk with a number of presidential candidates about why it’s so important and most of them agree. But I’m disappointed in Michael Bennet, who won’t pledge to support making D.C. the 51st state with 51 votes in the Senate. It’s long past time we make D.C. a state, even if we need to bypass the filibuster to do it. 11 other presidential candidates understand that. Why doesn’t Michael Bennet?” said Tamyra Harrison, Founder and Director of Iowans for D.C. Statehood.

“As a native son of D.C. and a father of two young children I find it inexcusable to allow an arcane Senate rule stand in the way of my family and our neighbors getting a straight up or down vote to determine if we will finally be treated as equal partners in American democracy as the 51st state in the union,” said Josh Burch, Founder of Neighbors United For Statehood. 

“For too long elected officials have made decisions about young people’s bodies, lives, and futures without listening to our voices. This is especially true for D.C. residents who have been systematically denied a vote in Congress. However, with J’ta at the helm, young people are rising up and demanding their voices be counted. We are grateful for J’ta’s powerful leadership and we join her call for 51 for 51,” said Jennifer Mandelblatt, Founder & Executive Director of Platform.


51 for 51 is a coalition comprised of DC-based and national groups committed to equal representation rights for D.C.’s over 700,000 residents.

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