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USA: Socialists and leftists performed well in races around the country

Portal de la Izquierda shares articles about performance of socialists in 2017 election. 

15 DSA Members Elected!, 2017 election


 Lee Carter

“We’re excited for all our DSA members who won last night” said David Duhalde, deputy director.  He added “DSA is especially proud of Lee Carter, a DSA member, defeating Virginia Republican House of Delegates Majority Whip Jackson Miller. Miller’s last minute red-baiting was no match for the people power that DC DSA members brought from around the region. This victory demonstrates the rising tide for socialist electoral activism across the country. ” In addition to Carter’s upset over Miller, the other democratic socialists also won for the first time.

In addition to Carter, at least two of DSA’s five nationally endorsed candidates also won last night.  Ginger Jentzen (Socialist Alternative – MN) is currently the top receiver of first-choice votes in a ranked choice election that is yet to be determined. “The national electoral program on DSA is on the march” said Duhalde, who had directed the national endorsement process with the National Electoral Committee (NEC). He stated “The victories of Tristan Rader (D-OH), JT Scott (D-MA), and the other DSA members elected last night show we have the beginning of a new wave of socialist political leaders.”  DSA, which included electoral work as one of three national priorities at our August 2017 convention, launched a countrywide volunteer effort to support six DSA-endorsed candidates this fall. (The sixth, Khader El-Yateem, lost in the September New York City primary.) Led by the NEC, DSA members supported these campaigns with phonebanks by dozens of chapters, graphics, fundraising, and more.

Also of note, Jabari Brisport won nearly 30% of the vote in New York City District 35. Brisport, a Green who ran on a newly created Socialist ballot line, received hundreds of volunteers from DSA and also the endorsements of Our Revolution and other socialist organizations.  In a city where the Democratic primary is often the general election, capturing such a large chunk of the electorate for a first-time candidate is no small feat.

A full list of the candidates who won can be found below along with some of their statements:

Vanessa Agudelo (I) City Council, Peekskill NY

Scott Alberts (D) Treasurer, Upper Darby PA

Lee Carter (D) Virginia’s House of Delegates in District 50, VA

Charles Decker (D)  Alderman for District 9, New Haven CT

Ben Ewen-Campen (D)  Board of Aldermen – Ward 2, Somerville MA

Kara Gloe (I) School Board, Moorhead MN

Kara Gloe lives in Moorhead Minnesota. She was one of the original organizers of the Red River Valley DSA chapter. She organized a fundraiser in July that raised money to help pay off some of the school lunch debt, and wants to work to ensure every child has access to healthy food in school, regardless of their family’s  ability to pay. She works in community development and is committed to creating a more equitable society for all. That commitment to equity is what inspired her run for school board. She campaigned on a platform of supporting students, supporting teachers, and supporting families.

Ross Grooters(I) City Council, Pleasant Hill IA

In both rural and urban communities, difficult economic demands are diminishing the power of people to control their day-to-day lives. This is also true in relatively well-to-do suburban communities like Pleasant Hill. When choosing to opt out of a county minimum wage increase earlier this year, the city council failed to represent working people in our community. As a union worker, Ross Grooters felt a need to step up and be a voice for working people. This led to a door-to-door campaign listening to the community and championing three issues: clean water, living wages, and a welcoming community.

Denise Joy (I) City Council Ward 3, Billings MT

Kristin LaLonde (I) City Commission, Mount Pleasant MI

Brian Nowak (D/WF) Town Council, Cheektowaga NY

Brian is a long-time resident who lives just across from Cheektowaga Town Park.  He grew up minutes away from where he now resides, raised by a single mom with his younger and older brothers. He studied Education at SUNY Buffalo State, becoming the first in his family to graduate with a college degree.  Brian has been a business manager in the town, with experience addressing budgetary issues and making a struggling operation profitable again. His recent work has been centered around political organizing and civic activism.  Brian and his wife Holly have been happily married for ten years.

Anita Prizio (D) County Council – District 3, Allegheny PA

Tristan Rader (D) City Council, Lakewood, Cuyahoga County OH

Tristan’s campaign for Lakewood City Council was about reprioritizing basic, people-first government. Strong public services, an inclusive culture, and genuinely open, democratic decision-making are concepts that he hopes most people support, and he’s honored that Lakewood endorsed this platform today. As a DSA member, he will continue working to make it a reality for all. He is very glad that DSA was a part of this campaign and will be part of that ongoing work.

Carlina Rivera (D) City Council – District 2, New York City NY

JT Scott (I) Board of Aldermen – Ward 2, Somerville MA

Seema Singh Perez (I) City Council Third District, Knoxville TN

Singh Perez ran for City Council because she believes the city needs qualified people who represent the population of Knoxville. The city needs the council to reflect the genders, races and socio-economic makeup of the people. Singh is a qualified woman of color who is an immigrant and a naturalized American citizen with a background in social justice. Why does diversity matter? Not because we want to sit around a table looking like a rainbow coalition, but because the local government needs to understand the unique life experiences, challenges and struggles of its many people, not just the dominant culture.


Yesterday Was a Good Day


 Branko Macetic – Jacobin Magazine

A  year ago today, Hillary Clinton lost the presidency to Donald Trump. Ever since then, the Left’s refrain has been: “Bernie would have won.” In the face of pundit after pundit after pundit warning Democrats to embrace Wall Street, move to the center, and abandon policies like Medicare for All and tuition-free college, the Left has insisted that the only way to fight Trumpism is to to embrace an unapologetic message that appeals to all working people.That was the theory. And the evidence from last night’s nationwide Democratic sweep suggests it’s also the case in practice, as mayoralties, city council seats, judgeships, and even state legislature seats around the country were won by not just unapologetically progressive Democrats, but open socialists as well.

Take Virginia. Democratic Socialists of America member, veteran, and Democratic candidate Lee Carter unseated Republican House majority whip Del. Jackson Miller in the 50th District. Carter had been largely abandoned by the state’s Democratic party after choosing to run on a platform calling for single-payer health care and curtailing big-money campaign finance, and openly opposing the Democrat-supported Dominion Energy plan for a natural gas pipeline and a high-voltage transmission line through residential neighborhoods. His opponents distributed mailers comparing him to Stalin. And ultimately, none of it mattered — Carter beat out a top-ranking Republican with an 84 percent lifetime rating from the American Conservative Union by 54 percent to 46 percent.

Democrats ultimately flipped seats in fourteen of the state’s districts, easily outdoing even the rosiest of predictions and achieving the best Democratic turnaround in the state since 1975. One of the more notable victories was that of Danica Roem, a transgender journalist who unseated Republican Del. Bob Marshall, the man who had written the state’s discriminatory “bathroom bill,” refused to debate Roem, and insisted on referring to her using male pronouns. While Roem ran a centrist campaign focused on local issues, her victory is a stunning rebuke to those insisting Democrats are “mired too often in political correctness” and “bathroom issues.”

Meanwhile, in Massachusetts, all seven of the alderman candidates for the city of Somerville endorsed by Our Revolution, the political organization that grew out of Bernie Sanders’s 2016 presidential campaign, won seats. Two were DSA members: Ben Ewen-Campen and JT Scott, who comfortably knocked off incumbents to win.

Indeed, for those asking the question, “Can a democratic socialist actually win a spot on city council?”, the answer appears overwhelmingly to be “Yes.” In Knoxville, socialist Seema Singh Perez became the city’s first Indian-American council member, running a campaign focused on reducing domestic violence, ensuring jobs with liveable wages, and instituting fairer economic development. The city council also now has four women for the first time.

Other city council seat victories for socialists include self-described democratic socialist Tristan Rader in Lakewood, Ohio; and DSA members Denise Joy in Billings, Montana, who won by more than eight hundred votes; Charles Decker in New Haven, Connecticut; Justin Farmer in Hamden, Connecticut; and Joel Sipress who won with 67 percent of the vote in Duluth’s 2nd District. Former DSA Buffalo vice chair Brian Nowak also won a seat in Cheektowaga, as did dues-paying DSA member Ross Grooters, who ran a campaign championing clean water and living wages.

Meanwhile Democrat Anita Prizio, a DSA member and small-business owner who ran on increased transparency, greater fracking oversight, and setting up a county jail investigative task force, narrowly beat the Republican incumbent to take a council seat in Allegheny County, north of Pittsburgh. Mik Pappas, a civil rights attorney and DSA member, became an Allegheny County district judge after a campaign stressing access to affordable housing and legal services, increased scrutiny of landlord-tenant disputes, leniency toward “economic crimes like drug offenses,” and skepticism toward money bail. And Klara Gloe, Red River Valley DSA organizer, comfortably won a thirteen-person field to win a seat on the Moorhead School board.

According to Christian Bowe, a DSA National Political Committee member from central New Jersey, 56 percent of the DSA members who ran in this election cycle won, the organization’s best ever result. In the previous cycle, he says, only 20 percent of DSA members won their races.

Then there’s Ginger Jentzen, the DSA-endorsed Socialist Alternative candidate for the city council in Minneapolis’s Third Ward and champion of rent control, a $15 minimum wage, criminal justice reform, and higher taxes on high earners and big property developers. Because of Minneapolis’s ranked-choice voting system, there was no clear winner last night. However, Jentzen did win 34 percent of first-choice votes, six points more than her closest rival, backing up her claim that on Tuesday, “Minneapolis voted socialist.”

Even some of the losses were significant. Jabari Brisport, a Brooklyn city council candidate backed by DSA and Our Revolution, won 29 percent of the vote, despite running solely on third-party ballot lines in a borough where Democratic Party loyalties are notoriously hard to shake.

And it wasn’t just socialists who won big. In Philadelphia, Larry Krasner, a self-described “completely unelectable” defense attorney with a history of suing the city’s police department and representing Black Lives Matter and Occupy activists pro bono, became the city’s top prosecutor. With a campaign spearheaded by former Bernie Sanders volunteers and pledges to end to cash bail, the death penalty, and mass incarceration, he won by a three-to-one ratio, thanks largely to the votes of the city’s communities of color. “This is what a movement looks like,” he told a crowd of supporters.

In St. Paul, Keith Ellison-endorsed former city councilmember Melvin Carter became the city’s first African American mayor on a platform promising police reform and free pre-K education, winning double the share of the vote of his closest rival. And Vi Lyles became Charlotte’s first female African American mayor on the back of a platform that called for a $15 minimum wage, improving the relationship between the city’s police and its residents, and promoting the hiring of poorer residents in projects funded by the public purse.

And in another progressive victory, Tuesday also saw 60 percent of Maine voters approve a Medicaid expansion in the state, extending coverage to more than seventy thousand people. It was the first time a state has expanded the program through the ballot box, leap-frogging both conservative governor Paul LePage’s veto and Republican attempts to roll back Obamacare. While LePage is continuing to try to block the expansion, the result nonetheless reflects a changing mood among the electorate on the issue of health care.

Taken in total, the results represent a significant shift in the political moment. Though they undoubtedly stemmed to some extent from a typical pendulum swing to the out-party linked to popular disgruntlement with Trump’s presidency, the scale of the Democratic victory — which saw Democrats win mayoralties, governorships, and even some state legislatures — handily outdid expectations.

More importantly, the success of unapologetically socialist candidates and the prominent role of left-wing platforms in victorious campaigns suggest that a left message is, at worst, no recipe for electoral apocalypse — and at best, a positive vote-winner. Combined with marked change in the gender and racial makeup of many state and local governments — instanced by Ravi Bhalla, who became New Jersey’s first turbaned Sikh mayor despite a campaign of racist flyers against him — the results challenge time-worn precepts of conventional Beltway thinking.

Despite all evidence, some will continue to insist that Democrats need to “move back to the center” and follow the nineties-era recipes of Third Way thought. If the past year’s developments weren’t enough to dispel that notion, last night’s results should. Whether the Democratic Party leadership draws the right lessons is anyone’s guess.


Ziad Jilani,Ryan Grim, Rachel Cohen – The Intercept  – 11.09.2017

A CIVIL RIGHTS attorney who delights in suing the police is the new district attorney in Philadelphia. A democratic socialist shocked an incumbent Republican in Virginia. A black woman who prosecuted a white cop for shooting a black teenager was re-elected as prosecutor. Three months after Charlottesville, a black lieutenant governor was elected in Virginia. A transgender woman who focused on traffic problems knocked out a longtime culture warrior who focused on bathrooms. A criminal justice reformer flipped the Washington stateSenate to Democrats. A wet bag of mulch beat a race-baiting lobbyist in Virginia by a stunning nine points. Maine voters expanded Medicaid.Long-held Republican seats in Georgia flipped in a special election. New Jersey, finished with Gov. Chris Christie, elected a Democrat in a landslide.

Facing what looked to pundits like an insurmountable 32-seat gap, Democrats are on the brink of taking back the Virginia House of Delegates, a result that now comes down to recounts.

In special elections since last November, Democrats have dramatically outperformed at the polls, though Republicans have dismissed each flipped seat as a one-off, and not as evidence of a pattern. Tuesday will be much harder to write off.

Look, for instance, to a pair of special elections in the very red state of Georgia. Two statehouse seats were up for grabs, both being vacated by Republicans. Democrats won them both. One of those Democrats, Deborah Gonzalez, raised $55,000 for her campaign; her opponent failed to best her even after raising around $200,000.

Also in Georgia, Liliana Bakhtiari, a Working Families Party and Our Revolution-backed queer Muslim woman lost to an incumbent Atlanta City Council member.

A year ago, Bernie Sanders ran an insurgent campaign that helped popularize democratic socialism and resurgent populism among American progressives. On Tuesday, populist candidates won in places you may not expect — from Manassas, Virginia to Knoxville, Tennessee.

In Virginia, Democratic Socialists of America-backed Lee Carter defeated the GOP whip Jackson Miller in the House of Delegates. Richmond-Times Dispatch reporter Patrick Wilson noted that the state Democratic Party offered little support to Carter. He won anyway. Numerous wings of the broader party united behind Carter, including factions, such as Planned Parenthood, who had backed Hillary Clinton last year:

Pretty interesting unity: Dem Party of VA, Planned Parenthood, unions, Indivisible, & small donors powered socialist Lee Carter’s VA win

Here’s his pre-election campaign finance reporthttps://www.documentcloud.org/documents/4177029-Report-CC-16-00043-10-01-2017-to-10-26-2017.html 

Report CC 16 00043 10 01 2017 to 10 26 2017

Source document contributed to DocumentCloud by Lee Fang (The Intercept).


Across the country, DSA candidates took offices, winning both as Democrats and independents. Socialist Seema Singh Perez won a seat on the Knoxville City Council. In Pittsburgh, a pair of DSA-backed candidates won, including Mik Pappas, an independent candidate who defeated a 24-year incumbent Democrat to become the 31st Magisterial District judge. Pappas ran strong on criminal justice reform, focusing on restorative justice rather than punitive measures.

In Somerville, Massachusetts, DSA members JT Scott and Ben Ewen-Campen unseated long-time incumbents to join the Board of Aldermen. DSA member Charles Decker will represent Ward 9 in New Haven, Connecticut.

And in Philadelphia, District Attorney Larry Krasner — also backed by DSA — will soon take office promising to radically overhaul the city’s criminal justice system.

There were a few low points for populists. In Ohio, a drug price control referendum went down by a huge margin after the industry spent $60 million opposing it. In the Atlanta mayoral election, populist Vincent Fort was edged out by conservative Mary Norwood and business-friendly Democrat Keisha Lance-Bottoms, the incumbent mayor’s hand-picked successor, who will make the runoff. While Fort did not succeed in the race, his campaign successfully pressured the Atlanta City Council to raise the wages of city workers to $15 an hour and decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana.

In Minneapolis’s mayoral and city council election, progressive criminal justice reformer Ray Dehn and Socialist Alternative candidate Ginger Jentzen performed well in first-preference votes, but because the city uses a ranked-choice voting system, final results will not be available until later this week — leaving the possibility that the Democratic establishment maintains its hold.

In Seattle, socialist Jon Grant, despite building a strong public-financed campaign organized by recruiting the homeless, was defeated in his bid for city council; meanwhile, the most business-friendly candidate waselected mayor. In Brooklyn, Green Party socialist Jabari Brisport ran a spirited race but failed to defeat the Democratic incumbent; Brisport, however, won more votes than any third-party candidate running in the city.

A slate of progressive challengers in Columbus, Ohio, who took on incumbent Democrats for city council and school board lost their races as well.

The five challengers – Will Petrik, Jasmine Ayres, Erin Upchurch, Amy Harkins and Abby Vaile – ran under the banner of “Yes We Can” and were backed by the Working Families Party and Our Revolution. They drew their inspiration from the Bernie Sanders 2016 campaign, and charged the city’s establishment Democrats with being too caught up in the narrative that Columbus is a thriving city, refusing to confront pressing issues like police misconduct, income inequality, drug addiction, and one of the nation’s highest infant mortality rates.

The Columbus branch of the International Socialist Organization declined to endorse Yes We Can because they “maintained a strategic orientation toward the Democratic Party” rather than running third-party.

The incumbent candidates – Priscilla Tyson, Shannon Hardin, Mitchell Brown, Michael D. Cole, Ramona Reyes and Dominic Paretti – who all received endorsements from the Franklin County Democratic Partymonths before the primary, ended up massively outspending their Yes We Can opponents. For the city council race, incumbent Democrats outspent Yes We Can challengers by nearly 10 to 1. Dominic Paretti outspent his Yes We Can school board challenger Erin Upchurch 5 to 1.

The wide gulfs in fundraising have reignited local conversations about campaign finance reform and the need to potentially cap campaign contributions. “You should not be able to donate $50,000 to a campaign,” Ayres said last week in the Columbus Dispatch. “If someone donates $50,000 to you, they want something.”

For a time it seemed possible that the city’s teachers union – the Columbus Education Association – might endorse the Yes We Can school board challengers. In September the union voted “no confidence” in the seven-person school board, deeply unsatisfied with its new contract and the board members’ behavior during the negotiation process. In the end, however, the union decided to endorse no one.

On the event page for an Election Night party hosted by Yes We Can, the candidates wrote:

Yes We Can has brought the political revolution to Columbus in a big way. In a very short time, we have grown from a few frustrated organizers sitting in a living room, to a powerful, people-powered movement giving the voters of Columbus options for the first time in a long time.

In many ways, we’ve already won. We have made this election about issues that matter to everyday people: Police violence, affordable housing, ending tax giveaways to millionaires.

We know the fight ahead of us is long and hard, regardless of the results. Let’s celebrate each other, and how far we have come. We will watch the results, hear from the candidates and talk about where we go from here. We’re in this for the long haul. #YesWeCan.

Correction: Nov. 8, 2017, 11:19 a.m.
An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Liliana Bakhtiari won the Atlanta City Council District 5 seat. She lost to incumbent Natalyn Mosby Archibong.

Leftist Candidate Jabari Brisport of DSA Makes Strong Showing in Brooklyn

Dan La Botz – 11.09.2017

Jabari Brisport, a member of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), made an extraordinarily strong showing in his first bid for the New York City Council. Running on both the Green Party and Socialist lines in Crown Heights, District 35 of Brooklyn where he grew up, Jabari won almost 30 percent of the vote, receiving 8,619 votes. He was defeated by Democrat Laurie Cumbo, who took 68 percent of the vote while the Republican Christine Parker got just 4 percent.

Jabari ran as a socialist in a diverse district with a mixed population of African Americans, Afro-Caribbeans, orthodox and Hassidic Jews, upper middle class white newcomers, and young hipsters. The district has a population of 124,170, larger than many cities. The 2017 election saw one of the lowest turnouts in years. Only about 22 percent of the 5,053,842 registered voters in New York City as a whole cast ballots in the election.

Jabari wore his politics on his sleeve. As he told a reporter from New York magazine, “I want to win because I’m not seeing the results. I’m hearing people talk the talk of being progressive, but it’s not enough to be progressive. You’ve got to be revolutionary, you’ve got to be socialist, you have to want to change society, and that means going on the offense.”

Brisport ran principally on opposition to a plan to turn a publicly owned armory building that covers an entire city block into luxury housing, arguing that it should be used for low-income housing and facilities for the community. He called for converting the property to a community land trust. He took up the position of the Crown Heights Tenants Union, which had opposed the deal. His opponent Cumbo had supported the armory deal until public turned against it, as manifest in the spread of “Kill the Deal” signs in local home and store windows. While Cumbo, under pressure, later came out against the armory deal, many doubted her sincerity and had no confidence in her actual commitment to resist it.

Shortly before the election, Jabari was arrested after he and other housing acivists disrupted a City Planning Commission meeting that voted 11-1 in favor of the plan to turn the publicly owned property into a private development of luxury apartments.

While housing was the big issue, Jabari also defended public education against charter schools, supported Black Lives Matter and called for criminal justice reform, as well as speaking out for climate justice.

Following the election Jabari wrote to his supporters, “We just did something the political establishment never would have thought possible. Our campaign got over 8000 votes, nearly 30 percent. One thousand of those voted specifically on the Socialist ballot line! We should all feel proud. We have just sent City Hall a clear message – socialism is rising in New York City.”

The Role of DSA

DSA, which has over 1,000 members in Brooklyn, mobilized its members to support Brisport’s campaign. Jabari won the Green Party primary election, while DSA circulated petitions and won enough signatures to put a Socialist line on the ballot.

DSA had its own operation, independent of the Green Party, in which its members helped to produce campaign literature, canvassed the neighborhoods, and mobilized to get out the vote. DSA members approached local residents saying, “I’m a member of the Democratic Socialists of America and I’m supporting Jabari Brisport…”

Jabari’s was one of two campaigns supported by Brooklyn DSA in the last few months. In the Democratic Party primaries, DSA had supported Rev. Khader El-Yateem an Arab-American Lutheran minister and community organizer. Born in Bethlehem, Palestine in 1962, El-Yateem migrated to the United States in 1992 and settled in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn in 1995. While he ran primarily on local community issues, El-Yateem also took controversial stands on broader political questions, such as his vocal support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement against Israel, known as BDS.

In the District 43 Democratic primaries, El-Yateem, also a DSA member, received 31 percent of the vote, while Justin Brannan won with about 39 percent, other candidates dividing the rest.

For many years DSA principally worked within the Democratic Party and supported its candidates and didn’t expect or ask candidates to run as socialists. These two races give expression to DSA’s new approach to politics, willing to support both progressive Democratic Party candidates, especially if they run as open socialists, but also independent, Green Party or socialist candidates. The race also demonstrates DSA’s desire to link politics to the building of social movements, such as the fight for decent housing and against Islamophobia.

DSA’s political approach has put them at odds both not only with some progressive Democrats and also with the Working Families Party. The WFP did not support either El-Yateem in the primary or Brisport in the general election. We will seeing more such candidacies backed by DSA in New York City and other areas of the country.

*Dan La Botz is a Co-Editor of New Politics. He was the Socialist Party USA candidate for the U.S. Senate in Ohio in 2010. He worked as a volunteer in the Jabari Brisport campaign for NYC City Council.

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