Norton Seeks Re-election
The District's longtime legislator in the United States Congress is certain to win another term with minimal opposition due to her work ethic and the manner in which she carries out her duties.
D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) has represented the city in the U.S. House of Representatives since 1991. When asked by a reporter why she should be re-elected to serve on Capitol Hill for two more years, she pointed to the reporter's notebook and asked: "How much paper have you got?"
Norton, 75, is running in the Nov. 6 general election with no Republican opposition but faces Natale Stracuzzi of the Statehood Green Party and, perhaps, Bruce Majors of the Libertarian Party, if he qualifies to get on the ballot.
Norton has faced no significant primary or general election opposition since she defeated a strong challenge by former D.C. Council member Betty Ann Kane in the Democratic Party primary in 1990.
Norton does not vote on the House floor because the District is not a state. However, she does vote in committees and has seniority rights in party caucuses.
A March 21-22, 2011 Clarus Research Group poll showed that Norton is the second most popular political figure in the District with an 82 percent approval rating, surpassed only by D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier, who had 84 percent. Lorraine Bouknight, of Southeast, said that Norton is well-liked "because she is just a powerful voice."
"She has fought for the right of District residents to have a vote in the U.S. Congress and she has fought hard for D.C. statehood," said Bouknight, 62. "She has taken the position that we D.C. residents do have a voice even though we don't have statehood and I appreciate that."
Despite not having a vote, Norton managed to bring a vote on D.C. statehood to the House floor in November 1993 but if failed, 277-153, with most Democrats supporting it and the majority of Republicans opposed. In 2009, Norton sponsored legislation that would give the District a full voting member of the U.S. House of Representatives but it failed due to pressure from the National Rifle Association.
In May, Norton was blocked by a Republican chairman of a subcommittee from speaking on behalf of a rider to an appropriations bill that would not fund abortions for low-income women in the District. The political disrespect that Norton endures on Capitol Hill is why she is thought of so highly, said Wilmer J. Leon III, a Howard University political scientist.
"Eleanor Holmes Norton is a competent public servant," said Leon, 53. "While I disagree with some of her politics, I agree with her as a person and public servant because I know she is doing what she feels is in the best interests of the city."
Bouknight said that Norton has defined her niche in politics.
"She is Washington's voice and she does it well," she said.
D.C. Young Democrats are Back
An organization that grooms up-and-coming Democratic leaders in the District is back in operation after internal problems caused the group to falter.
The District of Columbia Young Democrats [DCYD] will hold its first general membership meeting on July 18 at the Democratic National Committee headquarters in Southeast, at 7 p.m. The new nine-member board will present its plan for the fall elections.
"In this critical election year I am thrilled that the D.C. Young Democrats have new energy and a strong commitment to making a difference in the District and our neighboring states," said DCYD President Toby Quaranta. "I am excited to work with our members and the executive board to have an impact in the District and help bring Democratic victories to our whole region."
All registered Democrats under the age of 36 are eligible to join DCYD. Census data reveals that more than 33 percent of D.C. residents are 36 and younger.
"Representing such a large group of District residents, DCYD has an excellent opportunity to improve the lives of young people in every ward of the District by promoting Democratic values through service, and community service," he said.