Local activists scheduled the early primary in an attempt to draw attention to the district’s push for voting rights in Congress.
Democrat Eleanor Holmes Norton is the district’s delegate to the House of Representatives, but she is not allowed to vote on legislation.
D.C. activists and local officials have for years advocated for voting rights in Congress. The city’s license plates bear the moniker “Taxation Without Representation” as a protest against the lack of a voting member of Congress.
“Stand up for your rights! Come out and show your support for your favorite Democratic candidate and send a message to all on our right to vote!” said a notice on the Web site of the D.C. Democratic Party on Monday.
The local party’s efforts, however, have been hampered by the Democratic National Committee, which opposes any primary elections being held earlier than the traditional first elections in Iowa and New Hampshire.
Some candidates, including Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., Rep. Richard Gephardt, D-Mo., Gen. Wesley Clark, and Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., were originally slated to compete in the primary but removed their names from the ballot.
Carol Moseley Braun, Howard Dean, Dennis Kucinich, Al Sharpton and a number of lesser-known candidates will appear on the ballot.
The primary is “advisory” in nature, meaning that the outcome will not determine which candidate D.C. delegates to the national convention will support. That process will begin on Feb. 14 and continue on March 6 when the district holds its Democratic caucuses.
“There’s no point. I know I’m going to vote for the Democratic candidate in November, and the primary doesn’t have anything to do with who that will be,” retiree Jimmy Calderon told The Washington Post.