Resolution 20-05-R03: AGAINST – John G.


for Resolution 20-05-R03

My name is John G (he/him) and I have been heavily involved in almost every MDC DSA-endorse electoral campaign since 2017. I urge Metro DC DSA members to not endorse Will Merrifield for at-large DC Council because he does not have a path to victory and thus his campaign does not build socialist power. Running doomed campaigns not only diverts DSA’s limited volunteer time and deflates our energy, it also wastes the historic opportunity before us to elect a second open socialist to the DC Council to partner with Ward 4’s Janeese Lewis George.

Insufficient Coalition – I respect Will and the activist work he’s done, but that work does not in-and-of-itself make him a viable candidate for at-large DC Council. Will does not have the existing electoral base and is not assembling the expansive coalition necessary to win or even be competitive.

All recent evidence shows that leftist activists operating alone end up with very poor results. The progressive candidate in Ward 7’s CM primary, who had more endorsements than Will currently has, came in a distant 4th place with only 12% of the vote. McKayla Wilkes, the progressive challenger in Maryland’s 5th congressional district, got crushed, receiving only 27% of the vote.

Leftist Janeese Lewis George was able to win, however, because she built a coalition of labor, progressive & leftist activist organizations, racial justice organizations, environmental activists, immigrant communities, and other major players in DC politics.

Ed is the Stronger Candidate – Since there is only one at-large Council seat that is credibly up for grabs, it doesn’t make sense to endorse two candidates who will be in direct competition for that one seat. Since Ed Lazere is both a strong socialist and in a much stronger position to win, we should endorse only him.

Ed has more endorsements; he’s building the same left-labor coalition that brought victory to Janeese in Ward 4. Ed has already been endorsed by DC Attorney General Karl Racine (whose endorsees won in Wards 2 & 4), JUFJ, AFGE 1975, and DC for Democracy, with more to come soon. Both Ed and Will are using public financing, but Ed has more than twice as many individual contributions and is currently projected to receive more than twice as much public funds as Will. This money difference matters as our capitalist enemies are sure to out-spend us to try to put a pro-business candidate on the Council.

Only One Truly Open Spot – While voters have the option to vote for two candidates in the November at-large DC Council general election, one seat will absolutely be won by the incumbent and Democratic Party nominee, Robert White. Here are the two top vote-getters in the past 5 DC at-Large Council races:

2018 data shows Dem Anita Bonds came in first with 45% and Independent Elissa Silverman came in second with 27%. 2016 data shows Dem Robert White came in first with 53% and Independent David Grosso came in second with 25%. 2014 data shows Dem Anita Bonds came in first with 31% and Independent Elissa Silverman came in second with 15%. 2012 Data shows Dem Vincent Orange came in first with 38% and Independent David Grosso came in second with 20%. 2010 data shows Dem Phil Mendelson came in first with 56% and Independent David Catania came in second with 31%.

As you can see, the candidate running as the Democrat has always come in first by a wide margin. Robert White, who in 2016 received the largest vote total of any at-large Council candidate in recent memory, is the incumbent running for re-election in the race Ed and Will are running in. Robert White is, if anything, in an even stronger position now than in 2016, as evidenced by the lack of any primary challenger against him, and there is zero evidence that he won’t retain one of the two seats on the ballot in November 2020.

Too Big a Race to Split Resources – While MDC DSA was able to win Ward-specific races like Emily Gasoi in Ward 1 and Janeese Lewis George in Ward 4, these races are 1/8th the size of a DC at-large race. This is especially salient since the COVID-19 pandemic has curtailed our most effective electoral tactic: mass canvassing. It thus does not make sense to further split our resources by endorsing two candidates for one open spot and thereby pit them against each other.

We have a chance to get two socialists on the DC Council, to create a socialist caucus that doesn’t just protest but that actually wins votes and governs. It is thus vitally important that the left consolidate and not divide or dilute our forces. Since there’s only one seat truly up for grabs, and only one leftist candidate poised to win that seat, I urge you to endorse that candidate and only that candidate: Ed Lazere, not Will Merrifield.

Full list of member statements on this resolution: