3 Transformational Candidates That the Working Families Party Is Excited About
The party's national director tells The Appeal about candidates in New York, Washington, D.C., and New Mexico that the WFP would like to see oust the establishment.
In the run-up to Tuesday, the Working Families Party has made hundreds of endorsements in federal, state, and local elections.
The party, which was founded in 1998 as a grassroots effort to elect more progressive candidates, separate from the two major parties, aims to bring equality and prosperity to all people and repair the harms caused by systemic racism.
The Appeal asked Maurice Mitchell, national director of the Working Families Party, to share information about three candidates—one local, one state, and one national—that the party is excited to support this election.
Janeese Lewis George – Washington D.C. City Council
Even before the defund police movement made national headlines after the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Janeese Lewis George was calling for funds to be stripped from the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia and reinvested into the community.
George defeated incumbent Brandon Todd in the June primary for the Democratic nomination for the Ward 4 seat on the Washington D.C. City Council.
Ward 4 is in the northeast corner of D.C. About 50 percent of the ward’s population is Black and about half of the population has at least a bachelor’s degree. About 11 percent of Ward 4 residents have an income below the poverty line.
“She is, I think, the first defund candidate to win a primary during this uprising,” Mitchell said. “That was a really important signal not just locally, but nationally that you could run a viable campaign on the interests and issues coming from the movement.”
Prior to running for office, George was an assistant district attorney in the Philadelphia district attorney’s office before becoming an assistant attorney general in the Juvenile Section of the Public Safety Division of the Washington, D.C., attorney general’s office.
George is running on a platform that includes creating affordable housing, seeking statehood for the district, and pushing for single-payer healthcare.
She is the presumptive winner in the general election. George is facing a challenge from Perry Redd of the D.C. Statehood Green Party. However, no candidate for any office from Redd’s party received more than 73 votes in Ward 4 during the primary, compared to 11,000 ballots cast for George.
Carrie Hamblen – New Mexico state Senate
For 20 years, New Mexico’s 38th Senate District was represented by Democrat Mary Kay Papen. The district is in the southwestern portion of the state and includes Las Cruces, New Mexico’s second-largest city. Roughly 70 percent of the district is Hispanic, and the median income is around $30,000.
But Papen’s tenure will end after this session. Carrie Hamblen, CEO of the Las Cruces Green Chamber of Commerce and first-time political candidate, beat Papen in the Democratic primary.
Hamblen is running with the slogan “the time is now for a new perspective,” and her campaign platform includes expanding public transportation, developing renewable energy sources, protecting access to abortions, helping small businesses, and protecting public lands.
Papen, who is the president pro tempore of the state Senate, drew criticism last year for voting against repealing a state law that criminalizes abortion. Mitchell described Papen as a conservative member of the Senate.
He said Hamblen’s win in the Democratic primary is “an important symbolic victory demonstrating the rise of the progressive movement against the establishment.”
Hamblen will face Republican Charles Wendler in next week’s election. The last time Wendler ran for the seat in 2016, he lost to Papen by 34 percentage points.
Jamaal Bowman – New York 16th Congressional District
Jamaal Bowman is a middle school principal and a public school advocate. In January, he will most likely have a new title: representative.
Bowman defeated Eliot Engel for the Democratic nomination for New York’s 16th Congressional District, which includes Mount Vernon, New Rochelle, Scarsdale, Eastchester, and Yonkers. About 28 percent of the district is Black and 28 percent of the district is Hispanic. Roughly 12 percent of people in the district live below the poverty line and more than half of all renters spend more than 30 percent of income on rent.
Engel has been in Congress for more than 30 years, and in the 2014 midterms, the Working Families Party backed his candidacy.
Mitchell said Engel had lost perspective on what was important to his constituents and only visited the district when he realized he was in a competitive race with Bowman.
Bowman’s platform includes reconciling with the country’s history of slavery and systemic racism by implementing reparations, reducing jail and prison populations through efforts like ending cash bail and mandatory minimum sentences, creating a single-payer healthcare system, increasing taxes on the wealthiest people, investing in public schools, and implementing the Green New Deal.
“Jamaal is an educator, born and raised in the Bronx,” Mitchell said. “He’s an educator and principal in a Bronx school district and through his time as an educator surfaced all of the failings of our society through the needs and demands of his student base, his community, and his parents. His political journey is informed by what is going on on the ground in a very, very real way in the community.”