We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.

Fifty U.S. senators signed a letter to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell Wednesday urging him to pressure the Washington football team to change its racist name.

These signers are all Democrats, including both senators from Maryland, where the team plays its home games. But noticeably missing from the  list of signatures were the two Democratic senators from Virginia: Sen. Tim Kaine and Sen. Mark Warner, who represent the state where the football team practices.

Kaine has publicly condemned the team’s name in the past, saying in a 2013 Charlottesville radio 106.1 radio interview that if he were the team owner he would “make the decision to find a better name.”

A Kaine spokeswoman told City Desk today that the senator did not sign the letter because he did not like the tone of it, and there were “connotations  of parallel racism” in the letter that he did not want to sign off on. The letter urged Goodell to demand change in the wake of the Donald Sterling NBA controversy, in which the NBA banned Sterling, the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, after recordings of him making indisputably racist remarks surfaced. 

A spokeswoman for Warner said in a statement the senator believes “it’s not for Congress to dictate what the league does.”

“He believes that over time, team names will change to reflect the times, as happened with the Washington Wizards.”

Illustration by Carey Jordan