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  • Thomas Mitchell

Opinion The Post endorses Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District’s first line of defense

May 22, 2022 at 7:00 a.m. EDT

If, as many are predicting, Republicans win the House in November’s midterm elections, the District of Columbia will likely be in for some hard times. The Republican Party has been brazen about using the city as a political punching bag. Already, Republicans on the committee that oversees D.C. are talking about cracking down on local officials’ ability to govern the city, with some even saying they would try to repeal the Home Rule Act. One only needs to look at the radical policies moving through state legislatures in Republican-run states — from curbing abortion to banning books in schools — to know what a Republican Congress might do to D.C.

The District’s first line of defense in Congress is its non-voting delegate, an office held for 31 years by Democrat Eleanor Holmes Norton. Two candidates are challenging Ms. Norton in her bid for another term in the June 21 Democratic primary. Rev. Wendy Hamilton, a community activist, and Kelly Mikel Williams, a former D.C. Council staff official, say that, after 16 terms, it is time for a change. But it is precisely Ms. Norton’s experience that makes her equipped to protect and advance the city’s interests.

Ms. Norton has served in the House both when Democrats and Republicans had majorities and under presidents of both parties. While lacking a vote — an enduring disgrace of our democracy — she has been able to get bills passed that benefited the city, such as the District of Columbia Tuition Assistance Grant Program (DCTAG), which helps D.C. students attend any U.S. public college or university. That she has been ranked as one of the chamber’s most effective lawmakers by the Center for Effective Lawmaking is testament to her smarts, her skills and her fortitude. Because of her seniority, she chairs the Transportation subcommittee on highways and transit and played a key role in passing a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill.

Ms. Norton would be the first to tell you there is much still to be done. Foremost is statehood. There has been no more passionate advocate for that than Ms. Norton. But she is also a realist who understands that, while statehood is the ultimate goal, there are other things that need to be accomplished, such as securing the RFK Stadium site for the city and increasing the DCTAG grant amount.

We urge voters to again return Ms. Norton to the House.

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