As disappointing as last November’s elections were for progressives nationwide, the 2004 election season wasn’t all gloom and doom. The emerging grassroots fundraising prowess of organizations like MoveOn promises to put progressive candidates and causes on a competitive — if not equal — financial footing, while the sudden and growing dominance of the progressive blogosphere shows signs of undermining the institutional advantage enjoyed by the right-wing media echo chamber. Together, both these developments bode well for our ability to clearly communicate the progressive message in future campaigns.
But when we look back a decade from now, I’m guessing that the day Progressive Majority set up shop in Washington state will stand out as the most significant recent development in state and local politics.
Some people may find it hard to get excited about the mundane task of recruiting, training and supporting new candidates for “down ballot” races, but these oft overlooked local offices are the minor leagues from which future political all-stars will arise. If we want to eventually take back Congress and shift the nation towards a progressive agenda, then we need to establish progressive majorities at the local level, throughout the state, where we can develop and nurture new leadership for the 21st century. This is PM’s nuts-and-bolts’ mission… and it is one it is executing exceedingly well.
In an email yesterday, PM’s Washington State Director, Dean Nielsen touts the organization’s impressive success in Tuesday’s primary. Out of over 100 recruitment meetings, PM winnowed their 2005 endorsements to 20 key races… and of the 9 candidates appearing on the primary ballot, 8 will move on to the general election.
Dave Somers for Snohomish County Council faced a spirited Democratic primary between himself and Steven Hobbs, a 33-year-old veteran who was supported by some of the more centrist Democratic leaders. Somers defeated Hobbs 64% to 35%.
Fred Chang for Port Orchard City Council was the largest vote getter in this three-way primary, garnering 48% against the former mayor and an incumbent.
Liz Loomis is in a tough race for re-election to the Snohomish City Council. While she received the most votes, 46%, in a three-way primary, she will be running against a fellow council member who gave up his safe seat to run against her.
Lawrence Molloy for Seattle Port Commission came in second place in the three way primary, even though he did not spend any money on voter contact, choosing instead to save it for the general election versus conservative Jack Creighton III, the son of the former Weyerhauser CEO.
Pete Coates, who heads the Seattle/King County Building and Construction Trades Council, lost his five way primary for Seattle Port Commission.
Rockey Marshall appears to have made it through his 7-way primary for Yakima City Council with nearly 20% of the vote. The most conservative candidate garnered nearly 43% of the vote; however, he was the only conservative in the race. Progressive Majority members played a key role in this race by funding Rockey’s GOTV program that appears to have put him over the top.
Michelle Sandoval, running for re-election to the Port Townsend City Council against two competitors, received 46% and will advance to the general.
Judy Woods will face off against conservative former State Rep. Suzette Cooke for Kent Mayor. She pulled more votes than two incumbent Kent City Council members, Bruce White and Les Thomas, who were also running for the seat.
Helen McGovern received a majority of the votes in her race for Lakewood City Council. She faces Lisa Ikeda, a member of a conservative anti-tax group, in the general election.
All these candidates need your support in the November election, as does PM for it’s tireless efforts to change the face of Washington politics, one candidate at a time.