DSA specialty: Toppling incumbents
At least 48 DSA members were on the ballot this November, and at least 36 won office, earning more than 3.1 million votes for socialist candidates altogether.
Minnesotans are sending two socialists to the capitol next year. In his second run for legislature, Twin Cities DSA member Omar Fateh—the son of Somali immigrants—campaigned on an explicitly socialist platform, defeated a 10-year incumbent in the August primary, and went on to win the state senate district where George Floyd was killed. Meanwhile, in Duluth, Twin Ports DSA member Jen McEwen—an attorney representing workers with disability claims—crushed an incumbent Democrat nearly 3-1 with a campaign centered on the climate crisis, affordable housing, and Medicare for All.
St. Louis DSA member Cori Bush is heading to Congress after defeating corporate Democrat and 20-year incumbent Lacy Clay in the August primary, and an easy November win in a blue district. Bush is best known nationally as one of three insurgent candidates featured alongside AOC in the 2019 Netflix documentary Knock Down the House. A registered nurse, pastor, and formerly homeless single mom, she got active during the 2014 Ferguson uprising. Now she’ll advocate for the platform she was elected on: Medicare for All, public housing, nationwide rent control, tuition-free public college, and a Green New Deal.
This November, five more New York DSA members won election. Representing a district that includes Yonkers and the northernmost part of the Bronx, Lower Hudson Valley DSAer Jamaal Bowman will join AOC in Congress after having defeated 32-year incumbent Democrat Eliot Engel. And school teacher Jabari Brisport, union nurse Phara Souffrant Forrest, housing counselor Zohran Kwame Mamdani, and tenant organizer Marcela Mitaynes will join Julia Salazar in the state legislature. Albany’s new socialist squad is markedly diverse: Forrest is the daughter of Haitian immigrants; Mitaynes immigrated from Peru at age 5; Brisport will be the state’s first Black openly gay legislator; and Mamdani, son of filmmaker Mira Nair, is an Indian-Ugandan hiphop artist who performs as Mr. Cardamom. In each case, most of the drama was in the June Democratic primary, when Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez also clobbered a business-backed TV talking head by more than 4-1 and cleared the way to a second term.
In heavily Democratic Philly, DSA member Nikil Saval was unopposed in the general, so the real feat was beating a 10-year incumbent state senator by 14 points in the June primary. Saval, formerly a UNITE HERE union organizer and editor of leftist literary magazine n+1, is cofounder of the Bernie-inspired local group Reclaim Philadelphia.
Austin DSA member José Garza—who proved DSA’s top vote-getter nationally on Nov. 3—is the latest district attorney to be elected on a platform of criminal justice reform. Garza beat his GOP opponent more than 2-1, but the real wins were a March primary and July runoff: Backed by Bernie and the DSA, he trounced Travis County’s incumbent DA. A public defender and labor and immigrants’ rights attorney, Garza campaigned on holding police accountable for misconduct, and ending cash bail and low level drug possession prosecutions.
OFFICE | CANDIDATE | VOTE COUNT
- Travis County TX District Attorney Jose Garza* 393,808
- Clark County NV Judge, District 8 Dept. 24 Erika Ballou 390,454
- Pima County AZ Recorder Gabriella Cázares-Kelly 283,591
- U.S. Congress (MO-CD1) Cori Bush 245,520
- U.S. Congress (MI-CD13) Rashida Tlaib* 220,307
- U.S. Congress (NY-CD16) Jamaal Bowman 161,730
- California State Assembly, District 25 Alex Lee 130,718
- Pennsylvania State Senate, District 1 Nikil Saval 121,154
- U.S. Congress (NY-CD14) Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez* 105,455
- New York State Senate, District 25 Jabari Brisport 90,347
- New York State Senate, District 18 Julia Salazar* 76,068
- Los Angeles CA City Council, District 4 Nithya Raman 68,575
- Clark County NV School District, District E Lola Brooks* 65,061
- District of Columbia Council, Ward 4 Janeese Lewis George 34,791
- Minnesota State Senate, District 62 Omar Fateh 33,103
- New York State Assembly, District 57 Phara Souffrant Forrest 31,857
- Jefferson County KY Board of Education, District 2 Chris Kolb* 31,331
- Minnesota State Senate, District 7 Jen McEwen 30,526
- New York State Assembly, District 36 Zohran Mamdani 27,182
- Michigan State House, 4th District Abraham Aiyash 27,107
- Pennsylvania House, District 188 Rick Krajewski 24,208
- New York State Assembly, District 51 Marcela Mitaynes 22,173
- San Francisco CA Supervisor, District 5 Dean Preston* 21,389
- Pennsylvania State House, 184th District Elizabeth Fiedler 19,726
- Mass. State House, 27th Middlesex District Erika Uyterhoeven 19,713
- Alameda County Transit Board Jovanka Beckles 15,498
- Burbank CA City Council Konstantine Anthony 15,222
- Austin City Council, District 4 Greg Casar 11,629
- Rhode Island State Senate, District 5 Sam Bell 7,657
- Richmond CA City Council, District 5 Gayle McLaughlin 4,502
- Montana State House, District 95 Danny Tenenbaum 4,075
- Rhode Island State House, District 7 David Morales 4,068
- Maine State House, District 37 Grayson Lookner 3,545
- Vermont State House, Chittenden 6-4 Brian Cina* 1,858
- Merced CA City Council, District 3 Bertha Perez 1,870
- Redwood City CA City Council, Dist. 3 Lissette Espinoza-Garnica 861