CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- D.C. Councilman Marion Barry is enjoying considerable attention at the Democratic National Convention. The issue of statehood for the District, however, is not.
D.C. statehood was left out of the Democratic platform this time around, a fact lamented by council members and voting advocates who congregated at the Hilton Garden Inn Monday night for a barbecue.
"We don't like it," Barry told Yeas & Nays. "I don't like it. But that's not enough to stop us." He added that he planned to spend the convention "working my butt off for statehood."
And, apparently, posing for pictures with the Alaska delegation, which is sharing a hotel with the D.C. delegation. According to several sources, the Alaskans have been seeking out Barry for handshakes and photos. (Indeed, Yeas & Nays saw two Alaska delegates enthusiastically intercept Barry in the lobby of the Hilton Garden Inn.) Barry was also a hot sighting among reporters on Twitter at the convention.
D.C. Councilman Vincent Orange doesn't think Barry's presence will overshadow the issues at the convention. "I think the fact that everyone wants to meet him is amazing," he said. Orange is used to seeing people go bonkers over Barry. "Took a trip to South Africa, and the mayor of Cape Town, she was just so enamored with Marion Barry," he said. "She even called him Mayor Emeritus."
Orange hopes that statehood will move onto President Obama's radar once he's re-elected.
The delegation and D.C. voting advocates have done what they can to raise the profile of statehood at the convention. Two 23-foot-long billboards on the issue currently stand in Charlotte, and Shadow Sen. Michael Brown said they are handing out materials, working the streets, and working events to raise awareness. "No matter what," he said, "we need to keep this issue before people."