Jesse Jackson, the preacher-politician who twice ran for president, coasted to victory Tuesday in his first election to public office - as one of two "shadow senators" from the District of Columbia.
Jackson finished far ahead of the pack in a field of 11 candidates vying for the two non-paid ceremonial posts, created by the City Council to act as super lobbyists in Congress for district statehood.Jackson garnered 105,633 votes, or 46 percent of the ballots cast Tuesday to easily win the first seat, according to an unofficial count by city election officials.
The second seat went to city public school employee Florence Pendleton, also a Democrat, who was next in line behind Jackson with 58, 451 votes, or 26 percent of the tally.
While Jackson was the most high-profile politician seeking office in the district, his campaign was overshadowed by races to succeed Marion Barry as mayor and Walter Fauntroy as the non-voting House delegate from the nation's capital.
Jackson, one of the best vote-getters nationally in the Democratic Party, ran a strong second to Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis for the 1988 Democratic presidential nomination with a liberal-populist campaign that led to primary wins in many states.
Although largely absent from the local stump this year, Jackson has tried with some success to remain in the public spotlight with a weekly television show on 130 stations, a journey to Iraq, a visible presence during the Senate debate on civil rights and many speeches in inner-city schools.
Statehood for the District of Columbia, a federal enclave without voting representation in Congress, has been a long-cherished dream for city residents that still appears far from realization.
A previous bid for statehood, which ultimately must be achieved through a constitutional amendment, was approved by Congress but fell far short of the 37 states needed to grant the district admission to the union.
A renewed attempt is certain to meet strong resistance from Republicans.