City Cast

Are D.C.’s Shadow Senators Failing?

Kaela Cote-Stemmermann
Kaela Cote-Stemmermann
Posted on November 16
Michael D. Brown, DC shadow senator, Hands Off DC rally.

Michael D. Brown, DC shadow senator, Hands Off DC rally. (Lorie Shaull/Wikimedia Commons)

City Cast

Are D.C.’s Shadow Senators Failing?


D.C.’s 2023 elections came and went with little drama, but the 2024 races are already getting spicy, particularly for the Shadow Senator position. We talked with City Paper's Alex Koma about why Senator Michael D. Brown is in the hot seat, and who is gearing up to challenge him next year.

Back Up, What’s a Shadow Senator?

D.C.’s shadow senators are elected Congressional officials who cannot actually vote. Their main purpose is to push for D.C. statehood. Once admitted as a state, the shadow senator would become a full member of Congress. Of D.C.’s two shadow senators, only Michael D. Brown is up for re-election in 2024.

Ok, So What’s The Deal With Brown?

Brown has served since 2007 and has always been a colorful character in local politics. He recently antagonized many in D.C.’s progressive community by blaming the D.C. Council when Congress rejected the city’s revised criminal code legislation earlier this year. After all this, Brown has said he is undecided about running again.

Brown is theoretically an advocate for D.C. autonomy, yet he was cheering Congress on and referring to D.C. Council as petulant children.Alex Koma, Washington City Paper

Who’s In The Race?

Brown’s potential competition is already stacked.

  1. Wendy Hamilton, an Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner in Ward 8 who has been active in statehood advocacy around the criminal code revision
  2. Ankit Jain, an attorney and environmentalist active in local D.C. progressive groups.

“They’re both telling similar stories about wanting to see the shadow senator’s office reinvigorated, and it will be interesting to see over the next few months who emerges as the favorite,” said Koma.

Get into the weeds as Koma and our team make predictions for the shadow senator election next year and what it means for D.C autonomy.

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