So we're back where we were a few days ago. Gingrich sets the agenda, Clinton rotates it a few degrees to make it palatable. Our task, and there are no shortcuts, is to build enough power to produce better choices in the future.
A few more steps down that road were taken by local New Party chapters on Tuesday. Here are some highlights:
Overall: Campaign finance led the way, with overwhelming victories in Arkansas and Massachusetts. Not counting Washington, DC's ANC races, NP members and supported candidates won 16 of 23 races, bringing our overall total to 110 victories in 163 races.
Arkansas: As local favorite Bill Clinton swept to victory under cloud of tainted contributions, an NP and ACORN-backed statewide initiative for real campaign finance reform won an overwhelming victory, outpolling Clinton and Perot combined. The measure lowers contribution limits to $300 for statewide candidates and $100 for state legislative and local candidates, grants a tax credit for small donors, and tightens reporting and disclosure requirements. It'll be a big step in leveling the playing field for grassroots candidates against their corporate funded opponents. And in the first city-wide victory for a New Party candidate in Little Rock, member Paul Kelly won an at-large City Council seat. He'll join NP members Gloria Wilson and Willie Hinton on the Council, with the potential for a strong progressive caucus. In a second at-large City Council race, NP member Genevieve Stewart made a strong showing. She finished third against 2 entrenched incumbents but built her name recognition and a base of support for a possible ward race for City Council next year. Finally, in a classic New Party vs. the Right Wing matchup, member Jayne Cia handily defeated the Arkansas state chair of Empower America (Bill Bennett's organization) for a seat on the County Board.
Illinois: The first NP member heads to Congress, as Danny Davis wins an overwhelming 85% victory yesterday (he got a higher percentage of the vote in that district than the President). NP member and State Senate candidate Barack Obama won uncontested. Interestingly, it appears that the local Democratic machine is trying to distance itself from our folks. At a "Democratic Unity" march on Chicago's West Side, a flyer invited community members to join with a host of local democratic candidates. The only two west-side Democrats not listed: NP members Danny Davis (U.S. House candidate) and Michael Chandler (Alderman and Ward Committeeman).
Maryland: Progressive Montgomery's Majority Rule Amendment, which would have made it easier for the County Council to approve budget increases, is painfully close and the absentee ballots are yet to be counted. We're behind by a razor-thin margin of about one-half of one percentage point (250,000 votes total), so it's likely we'll fall just short in the end.
Whatever the end result, the chapter can be tremendously proud of its work. Together with the Montgomery County Education Association and other labor and community allies, made a strong effort on a difficult issue. At a post-election meeting of the steering committee, the tone was upbeat, and leaders planned a winter house party drive, a volunteer phonebank, and a founding convention in January. In other news, it was one up and one down for Maryland NP members running for school boards. Doyle Niemann won election to the Prince George's County school board, while Dan Parr lost a race for the board in Montgomery County.
Massachusetts: Both of the NP-led local advisory ballot initiatives on campaign finance won staggering victories yesterday. In Dorchester/Mattapan, the measure received 83% of the vote; in Worcester, 92%. These should send strong messages to the State Representatives in these districts, including House Speaker Thomas Finneran (Dorchester/Mattapan), that the voters demand campaign finance reform.
Minnesota: All of the candidates who had agreed to receive fusion nominations from Progressive Minnesota (before the state Democratic chair squelched the plan) won handily: State Assembly candidates Karen Clark, Andy Dawkins, and Linda Higgins, and State Senate candidate Ellen Anderson and Sandy Pappas. In the one contested race, New Party member Cam Ryder ran on the Green Party ticket in a State Assembly race. He received close to 25% in a three-way race, a good showing for an independent in a partisan race but not enough for the victory.
New York: Both of the Long Island New Party's key races were successful. Carolyn McCarthy knocked off freshman Republican Dan Frisa in a closely watched U.S. House seat. She was helped by an NP voter registration drive in the Hempstead area. And Tom DiNapoli, the most progressive State Assemblyman on Long Island, handily won re-election as a Democratic Party/New Party fusion candidate.
Wisconsin: All of the PM members and endorsed candidates in Milwaukee won handily: State Assembly candidate Johnnie Morris-Tatum and State Senate candidates Spencer Coggs and Gwendolynne Moore. PM member Dale Dulberger made a gutsy showing in an overwhelmingly conservative district, picking up 40% of the vote in a State Assembly race in Wauwatosa. Locals say that's the most a Democrat has gotten in that district in almost 20 years. And in way out-state Wisconsin, in the Fox Valley, NP leader Tony Palmeri ran a spirited but outgunned campaign for state assembly in an exceedingly conservative area. He also received about 40% of the vote -- also one of the highest returns for a Democrat in many years.
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