Last week, in another big victory for Councilmember Sawant, grassroots members of the Democratic Party’s 37th Legislative District voted against endorsing any of the candidates running against her!
Kshama Sawant is a proud member of Socialist Alternative, independent of the Democratic Party. Because of this, she was not eligible for formal endorsement from the 37th LD Democrats. But as supporters who fought for this non-endorsement explained, many progressive Democrats strongly support Kshama and are opposed to Jeff Bezos’ bullying and the Chamber of Commerce’s attempts to buy this election.
Kshama has used her seat to win historic victories for working people, from 15 Now to Indigenous Peoples’ Day to landmark renters’ rights victories. It’s because of this that Seattle’s most powerful business leaders are hellbent on driving her, and the movements she’s helped lead, out of City Hall.
Amazon has already donated $200,000 to the Chamber of Commerce’s PAC, which has now amassed a war chest of over $700,000. Their top priority this election cycle will be to elect “anybody but Kshama,” because they know her office is unshakably accountable to working people. They also know the other candidates will base themselves on what's acceptable to big business and would fit right into the cozy club of corporate politicians at City Hall.
When Kshama Sawant was first elected to City Hall in 2013, she brought together a powerful coalition with labor unions, 15 Now, Socialist Alternative, community organizations, and grassroots activists to fight for a $15 minimum wage. But making Seattle the first major city in the country to win $15 not only required taking on big business, but also standing up to the corporate Democratic Party establishment which has run Seattle for decades. Many progressive rank-and-file Democrats see that Kshama has played a vital role in winning historic victories and pushing Seattle in a progressive direction, and wish there were more elected representatives like her, here and nationally.
Since we won $15 in Seattle, the movement for 15 Now has swept the country. Under pressure from below, the Democratic Party adopted support for a $15 minimum wage into their official party platform in 2016. Yet even since then, leading corporate Democrats have used their authority to block, delay, and dilute proposals to raise the minimum wage, even in one-party cities like Minneapolis, Baltimore and Chicago.
Across the country, rank-and-file Democrats are standing up to the corrupting influence of corporate PACs and wealthy donors. As our supporters argued at this week’s 37th LD forum, Democrats should do the same here in Seattle. We were proud that, back in our 2015 re-election campaign, both the 37th and 43rd LD Democrats stood with Kshama Sawant by voting for "no endorsement."
Policies like taxing the rich, Medicare for All, and a Green New Deal are overwhelmingly popular among Democrats (as well as many independents and even rank-and-file Republicans). Yet the Democratic establishment refuses to accept these demands or even to accept politicians within their own party who advocate for them, such as AOC and Bernie Sanders (earlier this year, for instance, word broke that corporate Democrats were already discussing “primarying” AOC next election cycle). We must stand with AOC and Bernie against attacks by the Democratic establishment. But Kshama Sawant and Socialist Alternative also believe we need to build a new party for working people, rooted in social justice movements, dedicated to socialist policies, and completely free from corporate cash.
We’re also very excited to announce that, in addition to our important victory with the support of 37th LD Democrats, we have a clear lead with early endorsements. We’re proud to already have nine union endorsements, from SEIU 1199 NW, Laborers 239, Unite Here! 8, UAW 4121, Operating Engineers Local 609, WFSE 1488, WFSE 3488, the Greater Seattle Area APWU (postal workers’ union), and WFSE 304, in addition to endorsements from the National Women’s Political Caucus and the Democratic Socialists of America Seattle Chapter.