You've seen the headlines. Electing Mike Arcuri to Congress was our top priority, and now he's headed there to be part of a new majority. He'll be joined by Kirsten Gillibrand and John Hall, two more candidates for whom we campaigned.
Elections matter. Sometimes they matter a lot.
The gangsters no longer control the House and Senate. Rumsfeld's history. And Bush is talking about raising the minimum wage (we'll believe it when we see it).
But that doesn't mean our work is over. As one of our flyers said, "The Republicans are awful, and our job is to make the Democrats better." To paraphrase New York's new Governor, our job starts on Day One.
Working families need stronger unions, better pay and secure pensions; our children need smaller classes; and everyone needs health care. We need to end the catastrophe that America's involvement in Iraq has become. And, yes, we need a real plan to end global warming and stop devastating our planet. Those are our values, and thank you for voting for them.
Counting third party votes is a slow process in New York. It'll take about 3 weeks to know exactly how many votes we got on Row E, but we do know that we're close to moving up to Row D.
Sometimes, individual stories paint a richer pictures of our work than the reams of data produced by 4 million pulls of a lever. Here are just a couple:
- This is a November 4 update from our Western New York operation to elect Jack Davis:
"Steelworkers came out tonight and went to a lot of steelworker houses. Best story of the night came from a steelworker, who said the contact wouldn't be voting. The steelworker told the contact at the door that he was on strike and out there working on this race because he knows it's important to the survival of the workers. The contact flipped to say I will vote for Jack Davis on the Working Families line."
We didn't take out Davis's opponent, Tom Reynolds, but we helped remove enough of his Republican cronies that there is new hope for steelworkers and teachers and autoworkers and nurses and early childhood educators all across New York.
- Not every voter contact was so favorable. On the first night of our door-to-door operation in the 24th district, where our independent expenditure for Mike Arcuri helped elect him, one of our crew knocked, unknowingly, on the door of the candidate's girlfriend. She was so startled that she called the cops on the young man at the door (because our effort was an independent expenditure, the Arcuri folks were unaware our canvass was starting).
But quite a change six weeks later: another WFP canvasser in the same district knocked (again, unknowingly) on the door of Arcuri's aunt and uncle. Like 30,000 other independents in the district, they had received six pieces of WFP direct mail for Arcuri. And they happily said they would vote for Mike Arcuri on the Working Families line.
- The WFP also mounted a successful effort for Kirsten Gillibrand in the 20th district that began with radio ads criticizing her opponent, incumbent Republican John Sweeney, for refusing to support an increase in the minimum wage unless it was accompanied by a tax cut for the super-wealthy. When we sent out an email about the radio ad, imagine our surprise when Kirsten Gillibrand herself responded with a $100 online contribution.
- On Election Day, the Times Union posted a report on its web site that, "The Rensselaer County Board of Elections is expecting a more than 60 percent turnout in the county and the only problem so far has been activists with the Working Families Party urging people to vote for their candidates." In Manhattan, a New York magazine blog entry noted that the only volunteer posted outside a usually quite busy West Village poll site was "a lone working Families Party regular."
- Working Families members are typically gung ho (some would use a stronger phrase) about voting the party line, but they never let politics get in the way of principle. And the number one principle this year was taking back Congress. Because of a quirk in election law, the candidate challenging Republican incumbent Sue Kelly in the 19th district, John Hall, did not appear on the WFP ballot line. That produced a first-of-its-kind palmcard in the 19th District urging a vote first "for John Hall on Row B," and then for everyone else on "Row E." We're proud to note that John Hall won.
- And last, our policy director Josh Mason reports:
"I was standing outside a poll site distributing palm cards when a man passes by and says, 'Working Families? My mom always says, when you don't know who to vote for, vote Working Families.'"
Technorati tags: Working Families Party | 2006 Election | Vote Row E | Take Back the House