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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spin Control

Could the 2 Washingtons get more confusing?

People who live in Washington state get accustomed to explaining to strangers they meet elsewhere that it's different from Washington, D.C., the capital.

Some use geographic references. We're in the northwest corner of the country, that's on the East Coast. We're the Pacific side; that's on the Atlantic side. 

We're a state, that's a city. 

We're the REAL Washington; that's the OTHER Washington.

There's a move afoot to make this even more confusing. The District of Columbia is struggling for statehood. To be a state, they need a name. And the name the district council likes, according to the Associated Press, is the State of Washington, D.C.

The D.C. would stand for Douglass Commonwealth, after Frederick Douglass. The new name is being added to a proposed state constitution, which is up for a vote next month, the AP says.

The district council apparently liked this better than New Columbia, which was sort of the working name for D.C. statehood. All of this is, at best, a long shot because Republicans in Congress are pretty set against statehood for the district. At this rate there could be some Democratic "no" votes from the Evergreen State delegation, too, unless statehood supporters come up with different name.

Still, as colleague David Ammons pointed out, there's a certain amount of weird symmetry to all this. Back in the late 1800s, some folks wanted to call this state Columbia. That was rejected because -- wait for it -- some folks thought that would be too easily confused with the District of Columbia. 

So they settled on Washington.


Jim Camden
Jim Camden joined The Spokesman-Review in 1981 and retired in 2021. He is currently the political and state government correspondent covering Washington state.

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