A 51st state? DC voters say yes, but path to statehood hard

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Voters in the nation's capital decided Tuesday to support becoming the 51st state, though a vote for statehood doesn't mean another star is getting added to the nation's flag any time soon.

The statehood referendum added some interest to a sleepy general election in the nation's capital, where Democrats outnumber Republicans 12-to-1, and Hillary Clinton easily won the District's three electoral votes.

On the statehood question, voters endorsed a draft constitution that would have city residents electing a governor, not a mayor, and a 21-seat state legislature instead of a city council. The constitution includes new borders for the proposed state, with the White House, the Capitol and the National Mall carved out as a separate federal enclave.

The city's mayor, Muriel Bowser, was scheduled to speak on statehood Wednesday morning.

City leaders will now submit the statehood proposal to Congress, which can admit a new state into the union by simply voting to approve the document. But Republicans remain deeply opposed to statehood for both constitutional and partisan reasons: Making the District a state would dramatically shift the balance of power by all but guaranteeing two new Senate seats for Democrats.

As it stands, the city's lone representative in Congress is Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, a 79-year-old Democrat who is barred from voting on the House floor. She was re-elected Tuesday to her 14th term.

Also on Tuesday, voters chose six members of the 13-member D.C. Council, including former Mayor Vincent Gray, who was mayor from 2011 to 2015 and will represent his home ward on the council. Gray's bid for a second term as mayor was derailed by a long-running federal investigation that exposed corruption in his 2010 campaign.

On the council, the 73-year-old Gray could serve as an antagonist to Mayor Muriel Bowser, who defeated him in the 2014 Democratic primary. The two politicians have a deep-seated personal animosity even though they lack major policy differences.

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