The District will not consider becoming part of Maryland under Mayor Muriel Bowser’s watch, she said Sunday on Meet the Press, no matter how much Chuck Todd belabors the issue.
Bowser, getting her first bit of national exposure since being sworn in last week, appeared on Meet the Press along with Police Chief Cathy Lanier and DC Public Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson in a brief segment noting that of the 50 largest US cities, the District is the only one in which the mayor, police chief, and schools executive are all women.
The five-minute segment at the end of the broadcast did not break any news most District residents don’t already know, but it did give Bowser a platform to talk about DC’s often unpleasant attachment to the federal government and lack of true representation in Congress. Todd, a Virginia resident, suggested a retrocession of the District’s 68.3 square miles back into Maryland as a possible solution:
Todd: “I can’t let you go, Madam Mayor, without asking about DC statehood. How much of a priority, and would you accept separate statehood, or would you accept going and being a part of Maryland?”
Bowser: We are Washington, DC, Chuck. The residents of Washington, DC deserve full democracy and statehood, just like every—
Todd: But you could get that connected to Maryland, could you not? Or Virginia?
Bowser: We’re Washington, DC, Chuck. The residents of the District of Columbia really want to forge a new path towards statehood. And we can start with budget autonomy, unhooking our government from the federal government.
Todd, whose wife’s political consulting firm was paid $634,000 by Bowser’s mayoral campaign, also asked the new mayor how she plans to proceed with the marijuana legalization referendum approved by 70 percent of DC voters that congressional Republicans are trying to prevent from taking effect. Bowser said she agrees with Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton’s office that the referendum is “self-enacting” and said she would “explore every option” to get Initiative 71 to stick, but did not say if that includes suing Congress.
Find Benjamin Freed on Twitter at @brfreed.