Major news from two of the state's premier progressive organizations -- starting with the Baltimore races, Progressive Maryland and the Working Families Party will work in solidarity to elect progressive candidates around the state.
Joint Slate Kicks off a New Partnership between WFP and Progressive Maryland to Transform Maryland Politics
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
BALTIMORE –Monday, Feb. 10 the Working Families Party and Progressive Maryland issued a joint endorsement of eleven candidates for Baltimore City Council. It’s the start of a new partnership to build on progressive successes and build electoral power for working people in Maryland.
Together, both organizations are endorsing Zeke Cohen (District 1), Danielle McCray (District 2), Ryan Dorsey (District 3), Logan Endow (District 4), Tori Rose (District 7), Kris Burnett (District 8), John Bullock (District 9), Phylicia Porter (District 10), Phillip Westry (District 12), Akil Patterson (District 13), and Odette Ramos (District 14) for Baltimore City Council.
“We are proud to be announcing this new partnership and slate of passionate progressive challengers in Baltimore,” said Maurice Mitchell, Working Families Party. “This is the start of something big in Maryland, and the Working Families Party is proud to stand with Progressive Maryland in committing to putting together the people power and resources necessary to ensure success in November.”
In 2018, Progressive Maryland and the Working Families Party won a slew of state senate races, with victories in District 45 with Cory McCray, District 41 with Jill Carter, District 43 with Mary Washington, and District 40 with Antonio Hayes. Together, the two groups knocked on more than 20,000 doors in support of endorsed candidates.
“Progressive Maryland proudly stands with the Working Families Party to chart a new political future in Baltimore and Maryland as a whole, as we staff up hiring organizers that will cover every region of the state by 2022,” said Larry Stafford, Executive Director of Progressive Maryland. “Our progressive champions will fight for bold solutions that reduce homicides and mass incarceration, create local jobs with union wages that include opportunities for people who are formerly incarcerated, and fight the overdose epidemic by treating it as the public health crisis it is.”
"I'm honored to be endorsed by both the Working Families Party and Progressive Maryland," said Odette Ramos, candidate for Baltimore City Council, District 14. " I’m running because we need representatives on our City Council who will put neighborhoods and people first, support our public schools, and pass legislation based on whether it will support our communities, not satisfy big donors.”
"I have spent my career as a public interest attorney fighting for working families, and I'm ready to bring that fight to City Hall," said Phillip Westry, candidate for Baltimore City Council, District 12. "That's why I'm proud to be endorsed by Progressive Maryland and the Working Families Party. These two organizations have worked for years to help those too often ignored by the powers that be. Together we will fight for Baltimore that works all of us, not just the wealthy few."
"As someone born and raised in Baltimore, I'm so grateful for this endorsement," said Tori Rose candidate for Baltimore City Council, District 7. "The Working Families Party and Progressive Maryland represent the values that I have been working towards for years as a resident and advocate for those underserved in our community. When it comes to healthcare, wages, and crime, I pledge to be the change Baltimore needs."
The Working Families Party has a proven track record of successfully recruiting, running, and electing progressive champions across the country. In 2019, WFP helped elect longtime tenants organizer and progressive champion Jumaane Williams as Public Advocate in New York City, swelled the ranks of Chicago city council progressive caucus, made history in Philadelphia by electing Kendra Brooks, helped make Stephen Mason the first Black mayor of Cedar Hill, Texas, helped insurgent Latinx LGBTQ social worker Candi CdeBaca oust a longtime incumbent on the Denver City Council, and elected other council members from Morgantown, W.Va., to Phoenix, Ariz.
Here is the account by Maryland Matters, published the afternoon of Monday, February 10:
By Josh Kurtz <> Maryland Matters
Two statewide progressive organizations are set to jointly endorse a roster of City Council candidates in the upcoming Baltimore City elections.
But just as significantly, the joint endorsements represent a new level of partnership between the two groups, Progressive Maryland and the Working Families Party.
While the groups have largely pursued the same agenda over the past several years — both on the policy front and in state and local elections — this new level of cooperation is designed to strengthen the progressive movement in the state and ensure that the two groups are working together, leaders said.
“We are proud to be announcing this new partnership and slate of passionate progressive challengers in Baltimore,” said Maurice Mitchell, national director of the Working Families Party. “This is the start of something big in Maryland, and the Working Families Party is proud to stand with Progressive Maryland in committing to putting together the people power and resources necessary to ensure
success in November.”
In the April 28 Democratic primaries, the Maryland Working Families and Progressive Maryland have endorsed five Council incumbents seeking reelection: Zeke Cohen (District 1), Danielle McCray (District 2), Ryan Dorsey (District 3), Kristerfer Burnett (District 8) and John Bullock (District 9).
The groups have also endorsed Logan Endow, a public health expert who is running for the open seat in District 4; Tori Rose, a former federal government worker who has worked in the mental health field and is running for an open seat in District 7; public health professional Phylicia Porter for the open seat in District 10; attorney Phillip Westry over Councilman Robert Stokes (D) in District 12; community activist Akil Patterson, who is seeking an open seat in District 13; and Odette Ramos, executive director of the Community Development Network of Maryland, who is running for an open seat in District 14.
The groups’ preferred candidates are substantially similar to endorsements announced Friday by two health care unions that work closely with the Working Families Party and Progressive Maryland. The two groups plan to endorse in the primaries for mayor of Baltimore and City Council president in the weeks ahead.
In 2018, Progressive Maryland and the Working Families Party worked together on a somewhat more informal basis to elect three Baltimore City state senators competing in Democratic primaries: Jill P. Carter, Antonio L. Hayes and Cory V. McCray. Together, the two groups estimate that their volunteers knocked on more than 20,000 doors in support of endorsed candidates.
Progressive Maryland is the older of the two organizations. It arrived in Maryland in the 1990s and was initially known as Progressive Montgomery, where it focused on local affairs. The group’s first director was Tom Hucker, who became a state legislator and now serves on the Montgomery County Council.
The group initially was affiliated with the New Party, a national organization that was set up to pressure the Democratic Party and its candidates to move to the left.
But several years ago, as Progressive Maryland became somewhat less visible, the Working Families Party, a New York-based organization that allied itself with unions and other progressive groups to push Democrats to the left, moved into Maryland. Both groups largely worked the same territory, and as both have retooled over the years they are now determined to work in concert as much as possible.
“It wouldn’t be practical to do a legal merger but this is an alignment for sure,” said Larry Stafford, Progressive Maryland’s executive director. “The idea is to make progressives a much more powerful force in Maryland politics and to put together the pieces for a progressive governing structure.”
In New York, where “fusion” tickets are allowed, enabling candidates to appear on a ballot on more than one political line, and minor political parties often influence elections, the Working Families Party has become a potent electoral force. The party runs candidates of its own in many elections, often cross-endorsing the most progressive Democrat who may be competing in a primary. There are times when a candidate with the support of both the Democrats and the WFP appears on the ballot, but occasionally Working Families runs its own nominee against a Democrat.
But with ballot access rules tighter in Maryland, Working Families has chosen instead to attempt to influence Democratic primaries without becoming a political party or running candidates of its own. The organization endorsed Benjamin T. Jealous, the former NAACP president, in the Democratic primary for governor in 2018, and he wound up winning the nomination.
Some of the candidates that the two organizations have endorsed for Baltimore City Council are actually members of the two organizations. Rose is one of them.
“The Working Families Party and Progressive Maryland represent the values that I have been working towards for years as a resident and advocate for those underserved in our community,” she said. “When it comes to health care,
wages, and crime, I pledge to be the change Baltimore needs.”
But candidates who are not directly affiliated with the two organizations are also eager to receive their blessing.
“These two organizations have worked for years to help those too often ignored by the powers that be,” Westry said. “Together we will fight for Baltimore that works all of us, not just the wealthy few.”
Progressive leaders in Maryland have long complained that the Democratic Party and veteran elected officials have not been particularly responsive to their groups’ agendas. But with the pace of turnover accelerating in Annapolis, with liberals elected as county executives in the state’s five largest counties in 2018, and with several competitive Democratic primaries on tap in Baltimore City, progressive leaders are increasingly bullish on their ability to move the political conversation.
That job starts, they said, with the April primaries in Baltimore.
“Our progressive champions will fight for bold solutions that reduce homicides and mass incarceration, create local jobs with union wages that include opportunities for people who
are formerly incarcerated, and fight the overdose epidemic by treating it as the public health crisis it is,” Stafford said.
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