Shadow congressperson

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.


Historically, shadow congressmen were elected by organized incorporated territories prior to their admission to the Union.[1][2] 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] The election of shadow congresspersons from the District of Columbia is authorized by a "state" constitution, which was ratified by D.C. voters in 1982 but was never approved by Congress.[3]

District of Columbia officeholdersEdit

District of Columbia shadow senatorsEdit

The voters of the District of Columbia elect two shadow U.S. senators who are known as U.S. 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.[4]

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
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 –
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.
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 representativesEdit

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. In November 2020, Oye Owolewa was elected to succeed the 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.

Delegate 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-Flemming 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 officeholdersEdit

The posts of shadow representatives and senators for Puerto Rico were created in 2017 as part of the Puerto Rico Equality Commission[5] after the New Progressive Party gained control of both the executive and legislative branch and the results of the 2017 Puerto Rican status referendum. Pro-statehood governor Ricardo Rosselló appointed five shadow representatives and two shadow senators[6] with the advice and consent of the Senate of Puerto Rico.[7]

Puerto Rico shadow senatorsEdit




# Senator Party Dates in office Electoral history T T Electoral history Dates in office Party Senator #
1 Zoraida Fonalledas New Progressive/
August 15, 2017 –
Appointed in 2017. 1 115th 1 Appointed in 2017. August 15, 2017 –
New Progressive/
Carlos Romero Barceló
# Senator Party Years in office Electoral history T   T Electoral history Years in office Party Senator #
Class Class

Puerto Rico shadow representativesEdit

Year Shadow Congressmembers
1 2 3 4 5
2017 Luis Fortuño (PNP/R) Charlie Rodríguez (PNP/D) Iván Rodríguez (I) Pedro Rosselló (PNP/D) Félix Santoni (PNP/R)
2018 Alfonso Aguilar (PNP/R)
2019 Luis Berríos-Amadeo (I)
2020 Vacant Vacant

See alsoEdit


  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. ^ 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.
  4. ^ Election profiles Michael D. Brown (D), The Washington Post, 2006, retrieved, September 30, 2012.
  5. ^ "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. 30-2017 of June 5, 2017 (PDF) (in Spanish).
  6. ^ Bernal, Rafael (August 15, 2017). "Puerto Rico swears in congressional delegation". The Hill. Washington, D.C.
  7. ^ "Puerto Rico governor designates four members for Equality Commission". Caribbean Business. Guaynabo, Puerto Rico.

External linksEdit