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Shadow U.S. Senator Paul Strauss has always been a shameless self-promoter. You can’t expect any less from a guy who has U.S. Senator printed on his stationery but is routinely ignored on the Hill.
But Strauss’ latest shtick doesn’t arrive via an official-looking press release. He’s being drafted to run for the Ward 3 D.C. Council seat by some of his fellow Stoddert Elementary School parents. A group of Stoddertites and other D.C. Public School parents invited Strauss to the Glover Park Starbucks last Sunday for a cup of joe. They also delivered a pitch that he step out of the shadow and run for the Ward 3 seat.
The ringleader of the draft Strauss movement is Stoddert parent Wendy Feliz Sefsaf. Her son and Strauss’ daughter are in the same second-grade class. So why is she behind a guy with a reputation for overheated blather but little clout on Capitol Hill? “Because Paul Strauss has a kid in the public school system,” says Sefsaf. She’s looking for a candidate that has more than a political interest in fixing the schools. “I want [candidates] to have a gut-wrenching stake in it, instead of just being angry about it,” says Sefsaf. “It’s about finding a good schools candidate and someone who can be elected, and that’s Paul.”
And like any humble public servant, Strauss is patiently listening to those clamoring for him to leave the glamour of the white marble columns for a more parochial calling. “Folks whose opinions I respect are asking me to get in,” says Strauss. “I am seriously considering it.”
He’d be doing battle with seven other candidates in D.C.’s wealthiest ward. But a crowded field with no clear star might be to the advantage of a guy like Strauss, who has at least some name recognition and proven fundraising prowess. “I’ve had 20 years of experience in politics in this city. If I decide to do it, I know the ward, I know the people.”
Strauss says he hopes to make a decision some time in the next two weeks.
Sefsaf is convinced that the karmic forces are on the side of the draft board. At the Starbucks meeting, Strauss was seated in front of a big sign that read: “Now Accepting Applications.”