labor's election victories

Nathan Newman nathan.newman at
Tue Mar 14 12:59:56 PST 2000

>On Behalf Of Doug Henwood
> Washington Post - March 14, 2000
> Lean Labor's Big Win
> By E. J. Dionne Jr
> Buried in last Tuesday's results was the Democratic primary victory of
> California state Sen. Hilda Solis over nine-term incumbent Rep. Matthew G.
> "Marty" Martinez. Incumbents don't usually lose primaries, and
> the standard
> account of the race, which is true as far as it goes, is that Martinez had
> been in office a long time and had, as they say, "lost touch" with his
> heavily Latino district in suburban Los Angeles.
> But what gave Solis the ability to rout Martinez by 2 to 1 was her
> anointment by the unions. As chair of the labor committee, Solis "killed
> every anti-union bill that came before her," says Miguel Contreras, the
> executive secretary-treasurer of the Los Angeles County
> Federation of Labor.
> "We're sending a message," says Contreras. "Marty was not
> terrible. He didn't have a 40 percent voting record. He didn't have a 60
> percent voting record. He had an 80 percent voting record. But
> we're looking for 100 percent."


Since you posted this, to tip-toe back into the electoral debate (shield up
:), demanding 100% seems to be exactly what the third party folks have
wanted. Knocking off weak incumbents in Democratic primaries has always been part of the strategy of "inside" leftists, despite the caricature of defending every moth-eaten Democrat thrown our way by "the party."

Since this strategy has the advantage of actually electing a Congressperson, what is wrong with it compared to your favored third party strategy? And for a second, can we ignore the Presidential lesser-evil debate and concentrate on the Congressional level, where both third party and inside Dems like myself agree there is more room for left maneuvering and power.

The obvious tactical advantage of going after weak Dems in the primary is that you don't risk electing a rightwinger as a spoiler. With any given progressive candidate, whether Hilda Solis or Joel Kovel, what is the advantage of not taking the shot at a conservative Dem in the primary?

-- Nathan Newman

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