One of the longest-serving elected officials in D.C. appears to be leaving the voting-rights battlefield with a whimper. Shadow U.S. Senator Florence Pendleton has withdrawn from her effort to appear on the Sept. 12 Democratic primary ballot and seek a fourth six-year term. The near-lame-duck Senator was first elected in 1990, along with Jesse Jackson.
Shadow Senator candidate Philip Pannell challenged 917 of the 2,251 signatures Pendleton turned into the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics. Elections officials found that 692 were, in fact, invalid, leaving her far short of the 2,000 needed to appear on the ballot.
Pendleton says she decided to bail from the race rather than attempt to prove her signatures were valid. She filed her official withdrawal papers today. “Rather than fool with that, I decided I’d go with a [write-in campaign] now,” she says.
And Pendleton knows the perfect consultant that can deliver the winning write-in formula. “I’m waiting to get some tips from the mayor,” Pendleton says. “I stopped by his office today, but he wasn’t in.”
In recent years, Pendleton has been the grande dame of the effort for D.C. to win a vote in Congress—but little more. If her write-in campaign fails she can at least retire with the knowledge that her service to the city was superior to that of the flamboyant Jackson. The loquacious civil-rights legend quickly lost interest in the shadow seat during his first term and redirected his energies toward reforming corporate America. He has rarely mentioned D.C. during the 12 years Pendleton has served the city.
The way Pendleton sees it, her cause is far from lost. “I will be on the ballot,” she says, “but not by name. And I will win it.”