Across the country, DSA candidates succeeded in establishing and safeguarding footholds in local governments on election day, 2021. Though DSA candidate and avowed socialist India Walton failed to overcome a D-R team-up in the Buffalo mayoral race, 26 nationally endorsed DSA campaigns were victorious on November 2, including Richie Floyd, the first democratic socialist to win election in Florida, and an entire slate of DSA-endorsed candidates in Minneapolis. You can find a roundup of national victories on Washington Socialist.
These wins are all hyper-local - school boards, city councils. But small wins breathe life into local movements and help tip the scales in favor of organized masses. If Bernie Sanders' loss showed the left anything, it's that local and regional allies are sorely needed if socialists want to contest corporate power at the ballot box.
While sewer socialists had these quiet wins to fuel tempered optimism, Democratic centrists had little to celebrate. Former VA governor Terry McAuliffe failed to produce a positive message to turn out a voter base to surmount a right-wing surge. Though Terry McAuliffe generated more votes than any Democratic gubernatorial candidate in VA history, the campaign’s lack of a motivating policy platform failed to generate the enthusiasm necessary to overcome a surge of Republican voters. (In better news, Tidewater DSA endorsed Nadarius Clark won his election over in Richmond, ousting a conservative Democrat, becoming the youngest delegate elected).
Socialists and progressives should be sure to contrast the moderate loss in VA to Democrats’ positive performance in — of all places — New Jersey. Over the last four years, New Jersey had swung wildly to the left: legalizing marijuana, expunging criminal records for pot charges, raising the minimum wage, establishing a public bank (!), extending licenses to undocumented immigrants and making community college free for Jersey residents. Voters rewarded Governor Murphy — who was endorsed by Bernie Sanders — with a win, with Murphy’s campaign running up highest margins in dense and working-class segments of the state (and Democrats are looking like their majority will be held comfortably in the state house). It’s good evidence that Democrats who embrace their base – rather than push them away – are more likely to motivate voters and volunteers to turn out for them.
Metro DC DSA is in the process of considering endorsements for the 2022 cycle. There are nine pending endorsement resolutions – good evidence that our local is seen as a real force in the region by folks looking to take on the system. Two of these pending endorsements are public DSA incumbents: Gabriel Acevero, who is defending his House of Delegates seat in Maryland’s District 39, and Oye Owolewa, who is running for reelection as DC’s Shadow Representative.
DSA members will vote on these endorsement resolutions in December following debate at the local convention taking place on Saturday, December 11. Members (and..well really anybody) can take a look at endorsement questionnaires, audio Q&As, and the resolutions themselves on the MDC DSA website.