by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
A number of prominent 2020 Democratic Senate challengers have refused to take a position on D.C. statehood after Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) called the issue a “top priority” should his party gain control of the upper chamber.
Democratic Senate nominees in North Carolina, Maine, and Arizona—three races considered vital to determining the Senate majority in 2020—have yet to take a stance on whether D.C. should become the nation’s 51st state. Challengers in Texas and Kentucky, as well as Sen. Doug Jones (D., Ala.), have also failed to address the issue. None of the candidates responded to a request for comment from the Washington Free Beacon.
The collective silence comes just weeks after House Democrats passed a bill in June to make D.C. a state—and hand the overwhelmingly Democratic city two seats in the Senate. While the legislation was considered dead on arrival in the GOP-controlled Senate, Schumer suggested he would revive the measure should Democrats win a Senate majority in November.
“As one of my top priorities when it comes to voting rights and democracy reform, I will keep working in the Senate to secure statehood, full voting rights, and full home rule for D.C. in this Congress and beyond,” Schumer said in a statement.
Schumer is far from the only top Democrat to rally behind D.C. statehood in recent weeks. Presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden, who first backed D.C. statehood in 2015, reiterated his support following the House vote. The recently passed Democratic Party platform also supports D.C. statehood.
The issue, however, is potentially problematic for Democratic Senate candidates in competitive races. It has not polled well nationally; a 2019 Gallup poll found that just 29 percent of adults support D.C. statehood.