Loose Lips

Shadow Senate Candidates Argue Over Who Has the Shadier Past


Despite that fact that it's an unpaid, essentially meaningless position, Paul Strauss and Pete Ross both want to be one of the District's shadow senators. They want it so bad, in fact, that they were slinging mud at each other in mailers last weekend. And there's a lot of mud to sling.

First up: the above mailer from incumbent Strauss, which dubs deep-pocketed rival Ross "Pete the Cheat." Most of Strauss' mailer trades on Ross' 2007 conviction for felony tax evasion, which cost him three months in a halfway house.

LL couldn't reach Strauss for comment on the mailer, but Ross, unsurprisingly, isn't a fan. “The fact that he’s so crude as to say Pete 'The Cheat' Ross," Ross says. "I’ve just never seen anything like that."

Ross tried to convince Marion Barry to retract his Strauss endorsement over the mailer, hoping that Barry's own incarceration would convince him to turn on the shadow senator's unwillingness to forgive previous convictions. Unluckily for the furniture magnate-turned-office-hopeful, Barry wouldn't budge.

"Paul Strauss is willing to get the endorsement of an ex-felon, but he thinks that because you’re an ex-felon who has been rehabilitated that you can’t hold public office," Ross says. (LL notes that Barry, who was only found guilty of a misdemeanor, isn't actually an ex-felon.)

Ross' campaign has some dirt on Strauss, too. In a mud-slinging mailer of its own, Ross' campaign touts Strauss' 2008 arrest for driving under the influence. According to a police report, Strauss flashed his Senate I.D. badge and asked the cop who pulled him over whether the stop was really necessary.

Ross says his camp had already designed the literature trashing Strauss, but only decided to run it after seeing the tax evasion mailer.

“We had that prepared, just in case," Ross says.


Photos via Jon Bender

  • John Clark

    Interesting article. On reading this.... you would think this tax issue occurred last week. I ran into candidate Ross at an event. He totally disclosed this issue and told me this happened over 12 years ago. His quote, " he did his time-- he paid the fine and he learned from his mistake".

    Unfortunate, he is being "hung" again on this issue. Pretty desperate. I guess desperate times bring on desperate measures.

  • Joan

    Thanks for letting me know about all of this information. I was going to vote for Paul Strauss but now that I know Mr.Strauss has been endorsed by Marion Barry, I'll now be voting for Pete Ross.

  • Not A Felon

    Does "Pete the Cheat" even know what a Felony is? He seems to think that a Traffic Misdemeanor is the same as stealing payroll deductions from his employees. And he should apologize to Barry. Felon is a serious term, reserved for the most serious criminal offenders. He was not "fined", he was incarcerated. He faced 5 years in jail for his very serious crimes. Plus fighting "Taxation without Representation" is kind of what the job is about. If you went to jail for Felony Tax Evasion, it kind of makes you a lousy advocate for DC.

  • http://www.peteross.com Pete Ross

    I apologize to Councilmember Barry for referring to him as an ex-felon. This was an error by me in referring to Councilmember Barry as an ex-felon.

  • Pop M

    Why do we HAVE a shadow senator? (Rhetorical question as i know the history.) But rather if these represent the quality were going to get, maybe we should "shut it down." I'm writing another name for this race. Any other name.

  • monica schneider

    I've been telling my friends to do like I did- and write me in for Senator- vote Monica Schneider. In 12 hours of campaigning I think I've already gotten more than a dozen votes- and I can promise, if elected, i will never stop casting a shadow- no matter what pressures are placed upon me.

  • Dupont Resident

    On the bus shelters in Dupont Circle, there are signs urging us to vote for Potomac Phil. the National Groundhog for Shadow Representative. Pictures of Phil and everything.

    His slogan is "a make-believe animal for a make-believe job."

    Perfect for an April Fool's Day election to an imaginary position.

  • Rob

    Having dealt with Strauss professionally (he's also an ambulance-chasing lawyer as well as a pretend senator) I can assure that the Potomac Phil would be a far better choice than the incumbent.

    He's everything you DON'T want in a politician-- a self-involved blowhard who's in love with his own voice!

    I'd take a groundhog any day.

  • colete

    Congrats to Paul Strauss for his LANDSLIDE win yesterday!! A great man and a great lawyer AND a great senator!!

  • Steve

    Mudslinging doesn't really do anyone any good. Sad when it becomes the focus of a campaign. The DC statehood issue is more important than personal foibles of either of these two gentleman, both of which I am sure are decent people.


    Pete THE CHEAT Ross has not paid his Campaign workers. Reports of over 30 black workers looking for Pete Ross to pay up!. If know anyone who has not been paid their money from the April 1, 2014 Pete Ross 2014 campaign please contact the District of Columbia Office of Campaign Finance 202) 671-0547 and Dorothy Brizill dorothy@dcwatch.com