Norton Says Her Strategy for Winning Voting Rights Is the Way to Go
D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton may be rallying the troops for the Democratic Party convention in Denver, but she's also fending off criticism about her strategy for winning the fight.
Norton, who is scheduled to speak at the convention on voting rights on Tuesday, said there's no need to wait for a victory on the issue and believes there's a chance "to get the D.C. Voting Rights Act out of the Senate before it adjourns for this term."
In April 2007, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the D.C. Voting Rights Bill by a vote of 241 to 177 and Norton said the measure is just three votes short of passage in the Senate.
"We know that Barack will take care of this bill in a heartbeat, why should D.C. residents wait for a Democratic president when we have gotten so close after waiting 208 years," she said.
But leaders of the D.C. Statehood Party are criticizing Norton and the city's Dems for dropping the statehood language from the 2008 national platform draft at Norton's request.
"The residents of D.C. deserve full statehood. Voting rights will not provide any real Democracy for D.C.," said Scott McLarty, spokesman for the D.C. Statehood Green Party. "In 2005 D.C. Statehood was in the platform and 2004 the statehood language was removed at Mrs. Norton's request."
Eugene Kinlow Jr., outreach director of D.C. Vote and a delegate to the convention, said the Green Party criticism is unfounded. "In platform language there will always be compromise, but the goal is to always get your point across and surely some people wanted the strongest language possible, but others outside the District might not understand words like Home Rule or Self Determination."
Norton said her critics talk about the Democratic Party's platform like the city has no role in crafting the document.
"I am vice-chairman of the Platform Committee and the party's way of indicating their strong support for D.C Voting Rights is by making me vice-chair of the Platform Committee," said Norton, who is looking forward to making her case for the District on Tuesday.
"We regard the convention as a unique opportunity to reach people in every state in the union," Norton said. "We can't let this moment go buy."
In an effort to keep the local folks informed, Delegate Norton has announced this week that she will be tapping away on the keys via Facebook to keep in contact with her supporters back here in the District and to allow them to speak their minds on a non-official website not constrained by House rules.
Norton was invited earlier this month to take part in an online chat with a group of D.C. bloggers. In a statement she said, "I enjoyed my session with the D.C. bloggers. The closest I can come to being one of them is to establish my own Facebook page where I can invite supporters to have interaction with me and among themselves. "
Hamil R. Harris
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