IN FAVOR - Stuart K.

for Resolution 20-05-R02


Background

This statement is in support of the Metro D.C. chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America endorsing Ed Lazere in his candidacy for an at-large seat on the D.C. Council. Because Ed is running as an independent, this election is on the general election date of November 3, 2020.1

As a longtime advocate for a more equitable D.C. — and an expert on the D.C. budget — Ed Lazere can win this election and will fight for democratic socialist values on the D.C. Council. In this statement, I’ll share why I’m supporting Ed for our chapter’s endorsement, along with why the D.C. Council at-large election is so important this year.

Why I’m Supporting Ed

Since I joined Metro D.C. DSA in January 2017, I’ve either helped coordinate or led the efforts of our chapter to endorse and then support 11 democratic socialist candidates for office. Six of those 11 candidates won their elections. Through those wins and losses, I’ve learned to ask three questions about any new candidate who seeks our chapter’s endorsement. These questions are:

  1. Does the candidate engage with our chapter in activities related to their campaign and in building a democratic socialist movement?
  2. Is it possible for the candidate to achieve broad buy-in from a diverse range of voters and allied organizations, such as labor unions and progressive groups?2
  3. Can our chapter materially help the candidate win their election, based on our previous support of electoral campaigns?

My answer to all three of these questions about Ed Lazere is a resounding yes, which I expand on below:

  • Ed is a DSA member and has participated in chapter-led events. Last fall, Ed was a panelist at a DSA-sponsored forum for Reclaim Rent Control, and this past Friday he attended our Cops Not Care rally. Throughout the endorsement process, Ed has also been open to substantive discussions with chapter members about his platform.
  • Ed already has broad buy-in from the same coalition that elected Metro D.C. DSA-endorsed Janeese Lewis George. Just since launching his campaign in March, Ed has amassed more individual donations than any other candidate in this race. These donations are from all eight wards of D.C.3 Ed has already received the endorsements of Attorney General Karl Racine and DC for Democracy. Both Racine and DC4D — along with our chapter — were early endorsers of Janeese Lewis George and her successful run for the Ward 4 seat on the D.C. Council.
  • Our chapter can play a major role in helping Ed win. With over a dozen candidates running in this election, Metro D.C. DSA’s experience in organizing volunteers will play a crucial role in talking to voters who are inundated with candidate ads and mailers. Our chapter has seen how effective one-on-one conversations with voters can be in previous campaigns. This tactic will be even more critical now.
    With these three components, I believe Ed Lazere can win his election, build a strong coalition, and significantly involve our chapter in doing so.

Why This Election is So Important

The current makeup of the D.C. Council is such that only four out of 13 total councilmembers consistently back progressive legislation.4 However, the next composition of the D.C. Council has the potential to take a leftward shift for the first time in recent memory. Earlier this month, DSA-endorsed Janeese Lewis George won the primary election for the Ward 4 seat on the Council. Janeese defeated a right-leaning incumbent, while in the Ward 2 primary, former councilmember Jack Evans — a longtime opponent of progressive Council legislation — lost to a challenger who, like Janeese, was endorsed by Attorney General Karl Racine.

With these losses for D.C.’s center-right establishment, it is now more important than ever for D.C.’s progressive, socialist, and labor groups to consolidate support behind Ed Lazere’s campaign. Ed winning his election would add yet another advocate of social, racial, and economic justice to the Council. Electing Ed Lazere in November — along with Janeese Lewis George — would bring the number of progressive or democratic socialist councilmembers to six, which is just one shy of the seven votes necessary for a majority. Two more votes from other councilmembers would be enough to override vetoes from Mayor Muriel Bowser.

Therefore, to ensure that Metro D.C. DSA continues building power in our city and our region, I urge Metro D.C. DSA members to vote YES on endorsing Ed Lazere.


Notes
1 - The D.C. Council reserves two of the four at-large council seats for members of a different political party than the other two at-large members. This typically means that — because there are typically two Democratic at-large councilmembers — the remaining two at-large members run as independents. See this explainer for more information.
2 - While I don’t consider existing endorsements a prerequisite to endorsing candidates, the possibility of meeting those this requirement is important. A candidate with no chance of endorsements from groups other than from DSA — for instance, due to a strong incumbent or another left candidate getting those endorsements — will likely not be successful.
3 - More information on campaign contributions to D.C. candidates in the at-large election is here.
4 - You can find a scorecard of how D.C. councilmembers vote on progressive legislation here.


Full list of member statements on this resolution: