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Mr. Raskin said that while he does not oppose retrocession, he does not believe there is much appetite for it either in the District or in Maryland.

“Politically, (retrocession) seems not to be on the table,” Mr. Raskin said. “At this point, it seems as if the energy is still focused on D.C. statehood.”

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley is not in favor of retrocession, according to his communications director, Raquel Guillory. However, she said, Mr. O’Malley does support D.C. statehood.

“Residents of [the District] have long deserved the right to have fair representation in their federal government,” Ms. Guillory wrote in an email characterizing Mr. O’Malley’s position. “For hundreds of years, D.C. has been our nation’s capital. D.C. should not lose its independence and identity simply to gain the same rights all the states enjoy.”

During the 1980s and early 1990s, D.C. statehood advocates wielding a ratified constitution for the “state of New Columbia” failed to win congressional approval. In 1993, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 277-193 against D.C. statehood.

Four of Maryland’s eight representatives voted against the 1993 bill. Of them, only Reps. Steny Hoyer, a Democrat, and Roscoe Bartlett, a Republican, remain in Congress.

Mr. Hoyer supported an unsuccessful 2009 effort to grant the District a voting representative in the House. His office did not respond to a request for comment.

Mr. Bartlett’s office would not elaborate on his current thinking.

“Until the legislation is going to advance through the committee process, it won’t come up for Congressman Bartlett,” said Lisa Wright, Mr. Bartlett’s press secretary.

Mr. Strauss said he blames the failure of D.C. statehood on several factors. One of them, he said, is congressional Republicans’ reticence to add new seats to the U.S. Senate that would favor Democrats. Another, he said bluntly, is “racism.”

According to Mr. Strauss, Congress “has had a history of racial profiling … when it comes to states that have entered the Union in the latter half of our nation’s history.” He said many of the objections raised to the statehood of Hawaii and New Mexico last century, including differences in language and racial composition, are now being raised to D.C. and Puerto Rican statehood.

Neil Weare, policy counsel at the Constitutional Accountability Center in the District, suggested that D.C. residents and residents of territories like Puerto Rico and Mr. Weare’s native Guam should work together in pushing for congressional representation and voting rights.

The District “and U.S. territories are really more alike than they are different, and working together would help make this a more bipartisan issue,” Mr. Weare wrote in an email.

But Mr. Strauss said that even if voters in Puerto Rico choose statehood in November, he is not confident that Congress, which constitutionally acts as the gatekeeper to the Union, will honor their decision.

“The regrettable fact is that while I think that the question of statehood should be up to the people of Puerto Rico, it’s not guaranteed,” Mr. Strauss said, invoking the House’s rejection of D.C. statehood in 1993.

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