Metro Weekly

The Shadow Knows

Phil Pannell running for DC shadow senator

Philip Pannell has given decades of service to various D.C. communities. He’s worked for the city’s Democratic Party and NAACP chapter. He’s been an advisory neighborhood commissioner and ANC chair. He’s worked on HIV/AIDS issues in the city. He’s worked tirelessly for both the city’s GLBT community and Anacostia’s Ward 8 community. If there’s no rest for the wicked, Pannell must be as wicked as they come — a blessing for the communities he serves.

Now Pannell ( wants to take some of his signature style, which is anything from mean to magnificent, depending on who’s asked, to the Capitol. Washington, D.C. may not get any votes in the halls of Congress, but as a D.C. ”shadow senator,” Pannell aims to rock that boat.

”I would say to my fellow LGBT brothers and sisters, we are the ones who know about the oppression of the closet,” Pannell told Metro Weekly during a campaign fundraising picnic in May. ”We should definitely feel the need for our disenfranchisement to come out of the shadows. And what’s better than a candidate who can make that type of connection? We, in a way, should understand exactly what it means that not only are we facing homophobic oppression on a daily basis in our society, but then you have those of us living in the District of Columbia, which means we’re also second-class citizens.”

As D.C.’s shadow senator, Pannell’s job would be primarily to lobby for district statehood. In the Sept. 12 primary, he faces Michael D. Brown — not to be mistaken for mayoral candidate Michael A. Brown. And Pannell’s chances don’t look too shabby. He’s picked up the endorsement from the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, as well as D.C. for Democracy, the D.C. Tenants’ Advocacy Coalition, the Metropolitan Washington Council AFL-CIO, the Washington Teachers’ Union, and Ward 8 Councilmember Marion Barry (D).

Follow Will O'Bryan on Twitter @wobryan.