Yesterday’s elections were a familiar mix. There was the terrific news out of Maine and Seattle, where citizen initiatives on public financing of elections were passed. And there was the horrendous, most prominently in Kentucky, whose new Governor never met a poor person whose life couldn’t be made just a little bit worse.
For the WFP, we had elections in four states — and the results were solid. Some highlights:
1. Hartford has it. In Hartford, Connecticut, Working Families Party member Wildaliz Bermudez joins incumbents Dr. Larry Deutsch and Cynthia Jennings on the Hartford City Council. Wildaliz was active with Occupy Hartford and the Black Lives Matter movement. We like it when grassroots leaders step up and into the halls of power.
Also worth noting: Once again, WFP crushed the Republicans in Hartford, locking them out of power altogether — and we’ll be working to keep the Democrats honest.
2. We’re still not sick of paid sick days. Elizabeth, New Jersey became the tenth city in the Garden State to approve a paid sick days law, thanks to a campaign led by New Jersey Working Families and our allies. It passed with an eye-popping 84% of the vote.
Every day, this becomes an issue that’s harder and harder for Governor Christie to ignore. And what’s more, New Jersey has been a huge part of the national drum beat that has helped propel paid sick days onto the national stage. Go team!
3. The really really long game. Pennsylvania had an unprecedented three vacancies on its State Supreme Court. Judges are elected for ten year terms — meaning these justices wouldn’t just rule on the constitutionality of local paid sick days or minimum wage laws — it means they’ll be ultimately responsible for drawing the district lines that will be in effect after the next census in 2022. (It was a partisan Republican gerrymander that has left Pennsylvania in strong Republican control these last few years and it’ll take fairer districts to fix it.)
Going into Election Day, many progressives were nervous. The biggest source of Democratic voters is Philadelphia — but turnout sometimes craters in November, because the local races are largely determined by the May Primary. So the PA WFP team went to work pounding pavement and turning out the vote in Philadelphia — and it worked. The WFP-backed Democrats swept the judicial races. Many great allies came together to make this happen, and we’re proud to be part of it.
4. Building the pipeline. A few years back, the New York WFP totally overhauled its strategy. Instead of looking at the field in every race to find the best (or least-bad) candidate, they decided to invest in changing the field itself. That meant identifying, recruiting, training and electing the next generation of progressive leaders.
This year, after dozens of recruitment events and in-depth candidate trainings, it paid off. We selected 111 pipeline candidates to make our priority — and won in 71 races for local offices like town boards and county legislatures across New York.
Individually, the races are small. Added together, it’s a monumental effort that will shift the face of New York for years to come. And it’s something we’ll be looking to bring to scale in other WFP states as well.
That’s it for now! Time to get ready for 2016. Spring 2016 that is — when we’ll be hard at work on local races from Baltimore to Milwaukee and many more. Stay tuned.
Read the papers, pay your dues and……organize.
WFP National Director