- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 3, 2016


Maryland and Virginia have weighty down-ticket races.

In the State of Maryland, Republican Delegate Kathy Szeliga is riding on a wing and saying a prayer in hopes of keeping Democratic Rep. Chris Van Hollen out of retiring Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski’s seat. In a similar round of musical chairs, former Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown is trying to plop into the seat of Rep. Donna Edwards, who lost her Senate bid to Mr. Van Hollen in the Democratic primary.

You remember Mr. Brown, don’t you? He ran for governor against Republican Larry Hogan in 2014 and lost — despite winning in Baltimore city and Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, which have sizable Democratic constituencies of Asians, blacks and Hispanics.

Virginia has a most interesting race in its 10th Congressional District, a former Republican stronghold. Democrat LuAnn Bennett and freshman GOP Rep. Barbara Comstock are playing not musical chairs but a gentle tug-of-war. Their battle is not nasty, like the rough-and-tumble Hillary Clinton-Donald Trump contest, though. These two gals’ ads inform voters and anyone else who has a stake in the commonwealth about their opponent’s record. Theirs are cunning displays of how to hit below the belt without bruising the victim. Nice.

While voters in the State of Maryland and the Commonwealth of Virginia have additional choices in local races to draw them to the polls, D.C. doesn’t offer much to counter even the slightest voter empathy.

Indeed, besides playing the Trump card and proving liberals and progressives are ready for Hillary, D.C. voters are going to return Democrat Eleanor Holmes Norton to her congressional delegate’s seat, which she’s held since 1991, and they get to sign off on an initiative that would give the nation’s capital a new name should D.C. become a state.

The proposed name is Douglass Commonwealth, in a nod to statesman, abolitionist and newspaper publisher Frederick Douglass. Frankly, D.C. leaders could better honor the former slave and capital denizen by offering a hand up to empower residents east of the Anacostia River. Douglass, after all, helped galvanize a nation against slavery. Hence, the moniker the “Lion of Anacostia.”

Forefathers like Douglass wouldn’t recognize today’s capital, and I’m not referring to the geography but the politics of the place, where anything and everything goes, including drug legalization and assisted suicide. The D.C. Council approved its come-and-get-your-marijuana bill this week. Interesting timing too, since one of the champions of the Marijuana Reciprocity Amendment Act leaves office courtesy of her “constituents.”

It’s no coincidence that D.C. leaders continue to hopscotch around critical issues: freedom, liberty, life, faith and family.

Makes you wonder: Do D.C. leaders and the folks who signed off on the Douglass Commonwealth name change even know the difference between a state and a commonwealth?

Here’s hoping voters do some research on Google before they hit the polls on Nov. 8.

Deborah Simmons can be contacted at [email protected]

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