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Shadow congressperson

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The posts of shadow United States senator and shadow United States representative are held by elected or appointed government officials from subnational polities of the United States that lack congressional vote. While these officials are not seated in either chamber of Congress, they seek for their subnational polity to gain voting rights in Congress. As of 2021, only the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico currently have authorized shadow delegations to Congress.


Historically, shadow congressmen were elected by organized incorporated territories prior to their admission to the Union.[1][2][3] From its origins in Tennessee, this approach is sometimes known as the Tennessee Plan.

The first shadow senators, William Blount and William Cocke of the Southwest Territory, were elected in March 1796, before being seated as senators representing the newly formed state of Tennessee. Michigan, California, Minnesota, Oregon, and Alaska likewise elected shadow senators before statehood. The Alaska Territory also elected the first shadow U.S. representative, Ralph Julian Rivers, in 1956. All were eventually seated in Congress as voting members, except for Alaska shadow senator William A. Egan, who instead became governor.[1]

Territory Office Name Elected Seated
(now Tennessee)
Senator William Blount March 28, 1796 December 6, 1796
Senator William Cocke
Michigan Senator Lucius Lyon November 10, 1835 January 26, 1837
Senator John Norvell
California Senator William M. Gwin December 20, 1849 September 10, 1850
Senator John C. Frémont
Minnesota Senator James Shields December 19, 1857 May 12, 1858
Oregon Senator Joseph Lane July 5, 1858 February 14, 1859
Senator Delazon Smith
Alaska Senator Ernest Gruening October 6, 1956 January 7, 1959
Senator William A. Egan Elected governor in 1958
Representative Ralph J. Rivers January 7, 1959

District of Columbia officeholders

The election of shadow congresspersons from the District of Columbia is authorized by a state constitution ratified by D.C. voters in 1982 but never approved by Congress.[4]

District of Columbia shadow senators

The voters of the District of Columbia elect two shadow U.S. senators who are known as senators by the District of Columbia, but who are not officially sworn or seated by the U.S. Senate. Shadow U.S. senators were first elected in 1990.

The current shadow United States senators from the District of Columbia are Paul Strauss and Mike Brown.[5]

Class 1

Class 1 U.S. senators belong to the electoral cycle recently contested in 1994, 2000, 2006, 2012, and 2018. The next election will be in 2024.


Class 2

Class 2 U.S. senators belong to the electoral cycle recently contested in 1996, 2002, 2008, 2014, and 2020. The next election will be in 2026.

# Senator Party Dates in office Electoral history T T Electoral history Dates in office Party Senator #
Florence Pendleton 1993.jpg

Florence Pendleton
Democratic January 3, 1991 –
January 3, 2007
Elected in 1990. 1 102nd 1 Elected in 1990.
January 3, 1991 –
January 3, 1997

Jesse Jackson
Re-elected in 1994. 2 104th
105th 2 Elected in 1996. January 3, 1997 –
Senator Paul Strauss (cropped).jpg

Paul Strauss
Re-elected in 2000.
Was not re-nominated as a Democrat.
Lost re-election bid as an independent.
3 107th
108th 3 Re-elected in 2002.
Michael Donald Brown.jpg

Mike Brown
Democratic January 3, 2007 –
Elected in 2006. 4 110th
111th 4 Re-elected in 2008.
Re-elected in 2012. 5 113th
Independent 114th 5 Re-elected in 2014.
Democratic 115th
Re-elected in 2018. 6 116th
117th 6 Re-elected in 2020.
To be determined in the 2024 election. 7 119th
# Senator Party Years in office Electoral history T   T Electoral history Years in office Party Senator #
Class 1 Class 2

District of Columbia shadow representatives

The voters of the District of Columbia elect one shadow representative who is recognized as equivalent to U.S. representatives by the District of Columbia, but is not recognized by the U.S. government as an actual member of the House of Representatives. A shadow representative was first elected in 1990. Inaugural office-holder Charles Moreland held the seat for two terms. Most recently in November 2020, Oye Owolewa was elected to succeed retiring shadow representative Franklin Garcia.

D.C.'s shadow U.S. representative should not be confused with the non-voting delegate who represents the district in Congress.

Representative Party Term Congress Electoral history
Charles Moreland Democratic January 3, 1991 –
January 3, 1995
Elected 1990
Reelected 1992
John Capozzi Democratic January 3, 1995 –
January 3, 1997
104th Elected 1994
Sabrina Sojourner Democratic January 3, 1997 –
January 3, 1999
105th Elected 1996
Tom Bryant Democratic January 3, 1999 –
January 3, 2001
106th Elected 1998
Ray Browne Democratic January 3, 2001 –
January 3, 2007
Elected 2000
Reelected 2002
Reelected 2004
Mike Panetta Democratic January 3, 2007 –
January 3, 2013
Elected 2006
Reelected 2008
Reelected 2010
Nate Bennett-Fleming Democratic January 3, 2013 –
January 3, 2015
113th Elected 2012
Franklin Garcia Democratic January 3, 2015 –
January 3, 2021
Elected 2014
Reelected 2016
Reelected 2018
Oye Owolewa Democratic January 3, 2021 –
117th Elected 2020

Puerto Rico officeholders

The posts of shadow representatives and senators for Puerto Rico were created in 2017 as part of a newly formed Puerto Rico Equality Commission[6] to fulfill campaign promises made by the New Progressive Party, which gained control of both the executive and legislative branch in the 2016 elections in part with calls for a status referendum in 2017. Pro-statehood governor Ricardo Rosselló appointed five shadow representatives and two shadow senators[7] with the advice and consent of the Senate of Puerto Rico.[8]

Following the pro-statehood vote in the 2020 Puerto Rican status referendum, the Puerto Rican legislature passed in a lame duck session Law 167 of 2020,[9] replacing the Puerto Rico Equality Commission with the new Commission to the Congressional Delegation of Puerto Rico and establishing an electoral process for shadow delegates to Congress. Although an effort to overturn Law 167 passed the House of Representatives of Puerto Rico in early 2021 after the Popular Democratic Party gained control of the legislature, it did not have enough votes to sustain a threatened veto from pro-statehood governor Pedro Pierluisi.[10][11]

Popular elections for two shadow senators and four shadow congressmen will be held on a nonpartisan basis every four years, with the first election held on May 16, 2021, so the delegates can take office on July 1. The law also appropriated funds for the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration to cover the wages of the delegates and serve as their headquarters in Washington, D.C., where they will work on the statehood process with the island's resident commissioner in Congress.[12]

Puerto Rico shadow senators


The terms for Puerto Rico's shadow senators
are not aligned with the classes of United States senators



The terms for Puerto Rico's shadow senators
are not aligned with the classes of United States senators

# Senator Party Dates in office Electoral history T T Electoral history Dates in office Party Senator #
1 Zoraida Fonalledas New Progressive/
August 15, 2017 –
July 1, 2021
Appointed in 2017.
Successor elected.
1 115th 1 Appointed in 2017.
Died in office.
August 15, 2017 –
May 2, 2021
New Progressive/
Carlos Romero Barcelo (cropped).png

Carlos Romero Barceló
May 2, 2021 –
July 1, 2021
2 Melinda Romero Donnelly New Progressive/
July 1, 2021 – present Elected 2021 2
2 Elected 2021 July 1, 2021 – present Independent Zoraida Buxó 2
# Senator Party Years in office Electoral history T   T Electoral history Years in office Party Senator #
Class Class

Puerto Rico shadow representatives

Cong. Shadow House members
1 2 3 4 5
115th Luis Fortuño (PNP/R)
(August 15, 2017 – July 1, 2021)
Charlie Rodríguez (PNP/D)
(August 15, 2017 – July 1, 2021)
Iván Rodríguez (I)
(August 15, 2017 – August 20, 2018)
Pedro Rosselló (PNP/D)
(August 15, 2017 – July 22, 2019)
Félix Santoni (PNP/R)
(August 15, 2017 – January 6, 2018)
Luis Berríos-Amadeo (I)
(August 20, 2018 – July 1, 2021)
Alfonso Aguilar (PNP/R)
(January 6, 2018 – February 26, 2020)
(July 22, 2019 – July 1, 2021)
(February 26, 2020 – July 1, 2021)
Elizabeth Torres (I)
(July 1, 2021 – present)
Ricardo Rosselló (PNP/D)[13]
(July 7, 2021 – present)
Roberto Lefranc Fortuño (PNP/R)
(July 1, 2021 – present)
Mayita Meléndez (PNP/D)
(July 1, 2021 – present)
Seat eliminated on July 1, 2021

See also


  1. ^ a b Strauss, Paul. "A Brief History of the Shadow Senators of the United States". Paul Strauss – United States Senator for the District of Columbia. Archived from the original on February 11, 2003.
  2. ^ "Puerto Rico's Tennessee Plan". AAF. Retrieved March 10, 2019.
  3. ^
  4. ^ Sheridan, Mary Beth (May 29, 2008). "D.C. Seeks to Fund Lobbying Effort for a Voting House Member". The Washington Post. p. B01. Retrieved December 29, 2008.
  5. ^ Election profiles Michael D. Brown (D), The Washington Post, 2006, retrieved, September 30, 2012.
  6. ^ "Ley por la Igualdad y Representación Congresional de los Ciudadanos Americanos de Puerto Rico" [Act for Equality and Congressional Representation of the United States Citizens of Puerto Rico]. Act No. 40-2017 of June 5, 2017 (PDF) (in Spanish).
  7. ^ Bernal, Rafael (August 15, 2017). "Puerto Rico swears in congressional delegation". The Hill. Washington, D.C.
  8. ^ "Puerto Rico governor designates four members for Equality Commission". Caribbean Business. Guaynabo, Puerto Rico. July 3, 2017.
  9. ^ "Ley Núm. 167 de 2020 -Ley para crear la Delegación Congresional de Puerto Rico". LexJuris Puerto Rico. Retrieved February 23, 2021.
  10. ^ de Jesús Salamán, Adriana (January 29, 2021). "Peligra elección pro estadidad por falta de fondos y el PPD" [Statehood election in danger due to lack of funds and PPD]. NotiCel (in Spanish). San Juan, Puerto Rico. Retrieved February 24, 2021.
  11. ^ Rivera Clemente, Yaritza (February 22, 2021). "Radicarán medida para atender el estatus" [They Will File a Measure to Amend the Status]. El Vocero (in Spanish). San Juan, Puerto Rico. Retrieved February 24, 2021.
  12. ^ Padró Ocasio, Bianca; Ortiz-Blanes, Syra; Daugherty, Alex (January 28, 2021). "Puerto Rico governor plan for a 'shadow delegation' draws criticism amid pandemic". Miami Herald. Miami, Florida. Retrieved February 24, 2021.
  13. ^ "Ricardo Rosselló juramenta como delegado congresional". Telemundo Puerto Rico (in Spanish). Retrieved July 22, 2021.

External links

This page was last edited on 5 May 2022, at 08:34
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