Candidates endorsed by the Democratic Socialists of America and Our Revolution, two groups pushing progressive candidates within the Democratic Party, won several races across the country Tuesday, demonstrating that the surge from the Democratic Party’s left is able win voters.
At least 12 candidates endorsed by the DSA, the country’s largest socialist organization, won races Tuesday and at least 13 candidates endorsed by Our Revolution, the group started by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., also won. Many of the DSA-endorsed candidates were endorsed by Our Revolution and vice versa.
One of the most notable win of the night was in Virginia, where Lee Carter, an IT specialist and former Marine who didn’t have the backing of the state Democratic Party but had the backing of the two progressive groups, beat House Majority Whip Jackson Miller, the second-highest ranking Republican in the state House.
Carter ran on a platform of implementing a single-payer healthcare plan in the state, raising the minimum wage and supporting workers unions. Miller, who has held the delegate seat since 2006, opposed a single-payer healthcare system and has voted against minimum wage increases and a bill to allow collective bargaining for government employees.
In Philadelphia, civil rights attorney Larry Krasner, a Democrat strongly endorsed by both DSA and Our Revolution, won the district attorney’s seat on a platform of reforming the criminal justice system through ending mass incarceration, including imprisonment for minor drug crimes, ending cash bail, ending stop-and-frisk and prosecuting police misconduct.
About 300 miles west in Pittsburgh, fellow civil rights attorney Mik Pappas, an Independent who ran on a similar criminal justice reform platform to Krasner’s, won in his bid for District Justice of Allegheny County. Pappas had the backing of both Our Revolution and DSA.
Other winners backed by DSA and Our Revolution include Seema Singh Perez, who was elected to the Knoxville, Tenn. city council; Brian Nowak to the Cheektowaga, N.Y. town council; Tristan Rader to the Lakewood, Ohio city council; Charles Decker to the council of Ward 9 in New Haven, Ct.; Anita Prizio to the Allegheny County, Penn. council; and J.T. Scott and Bew Ewen Campen, who were both elected to the city council in Somerville, Mass.
Instead of running candidates in third parties, the strategy for Our Revolution and DSA has been to elect progressive candidates in an effort to push the Democratic Party left.
“The only viable electoral strategy is to work with the Democratic Party,” Michael Kazin, the editor of leftist magazine Dissent, told Politico in October. “There is no viable third party.”
“Absolutely, we definitely want to primary neoliberal Democrats,” said Maria Svart, the DSA’s national director. “What we’re trying to do is build an organized grass-roots constituency for democratic socialism, and the politicians we’ll support are the ones who can win.”
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