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Despite that fact that it’s an unpaid, essentially meaningless position, Paul Strauss and Pete Ross both want to be one of the District’s shadow senators. They want it so bad, in fact, that they were slinging mud at each other in mailers last weekend. And there’s a lot of mud to sling.

First up: the above mailer from incumbent Strauss, which dubs deep-pocketed rival Ross “Pete the Cheat.” Most of Strauss’ mailer trades on Ross’ 2007 conviction for felony tax evasion, which cost him three months in a halfway house.

LL couldn’t reach Strauss for comment on the mailer, but Ross, unsurprisingly, isn’t a fan. “The fact that he’s so crude as to say Pete ‘The Cheat’ Ross,” Ross says. “I’ve just never seen anything like that.”

Ross tried to convince Marion Barry to retract his Strauss endorsement over the mailer, hoping that Barry’s own incarceration would convince him to turn on the shadow senator’s unwillingness to forgive previous convictions. Unluckily for the furniture magnate-turned-office-hopeful, Barry wouldn’t budge.

“Paul Strauss is willing to get the endorsement of an ex-felon, but he thinks that because you’re an ex-felon who has been rehabilitated that you can’t hold public office,” Ross says. (LL notes that Barry, who was only found guilty of a misdemeanor, isn’t actually an ex-felon.)

Ross’ campaign has some dirt on Strauss, too. In a mud-slinging mailer of its own, Ross’ campaign touts Strauss’ 2008 arrest for driving under the influence. According to a police report, Strauss flashed his Senate I.D. badge and asked the cop who pulled him over whether the stop was really necessary.

Ross says his camp had already designed the literature trashing Strauss, but only decided to run it after seeing the tax evasion mailer.

“We had that prepared, just in case,” Ross says.

Photos via Jon Bender