Populist Groundswell Gave 'Chuy' Garcia a Fighting Chance

For Immediate Release

Organization Profile: 
Contact: 

Janet Fang (China), jfang@nrdc-china.org   

Jackie Wei (U.S.), 310-434-2325 Kristi Sanford, thepeopleslobbyusa@gmail.com or 773-456-4024 

Jacob Swenson-Lengyel, jacob@peoplesaction.org or 312-316-3973or cell 347-874-8305, jwei@nrdc.org

Populist Groundswell Gave 'Chuy' Garcia a Fighting Chance

CHICAGO - Upon endorsing Jesus “Chuy” Garcia for mayor on March 19, Reclaim Chicago, an affiliate of National People’s Action Campaign, committed 2,000 hours of volunteer time to identify and turn Garcia supporters out to the polls. But by the end of Election Day, Reclaim Chicago organizers say they had mobilized more than 4,000 additional volunteer hours talking with voters about Garcia for Mayor.

“There was truly a movement feeling in the air in this runoff election. In the last three weeks alone, Reclaim Chicago was able to almost equal the number of volunteers we mobilized during the three months prior to the February 24 primary,” said David Hatch, Executive Director of Reclaim Chicago. “Chicagoans were energized by Chuy’s populist message. Voters saw a candidate they really believed would fight for their interests, instead of catering to big corporations and the wealthy.”

Reclaim Chicago organizers believe the key lesson for the left is that a populist message delivered by a candidate with a credible track record can give progressives a fighting chance to reclaim the Democratic Party from corporate-backed Democrats like Rahm Emanuel who dominate the party nationwide. Organizers say another critical lesson is that organized people can help counter the kinds of big money raised by Emanuel if they are dedicated to building independent, progressive political organizations in between elections. “Campaigns fold up their operation the day after an election, but Reclaim Chicago will continue to engage people in the fight against corporate influence in government and have a much stronger base for the next round of municipal elections,” said Hatch.

Reclaim Chicago also mobilized significant field operations in the 45th ward for Alderman John Arena, who won tonight, along with challenger Amy Crowford in the 46th ward. Reclaim Chicago also endorsed the following progressive aldermanic candidates: Sue Sadlowski Garza (10), Rafael Yanez (15), Alderman Toni Foulkes (16) and Tara Stamps (37).

The movement to elect candidates who will put people and the planet before corporate profits is rapidly expanding beyond Chicago. In 2013 Betsy Hodges, a member leader of Nation People’s Action Campaign (NPAC) affiliate TakeAction Minnesota was elected Mayor of Minneapolis. Mayor Hodges joined new populist Mayors in Boston, New York City, and Seattle.

In 2015, NPAC affiliates are taking the movement outside of America’s urban centers. In places as diverse as Lewiston, ME, Kalamazoo, MI, and Duluth, MN, NPAC affiliates are working to defeat corporate incumbents (whether Democrat or Republican) and elect bold leaders in the fight for economic and racial justice. In 2016, National People’s Action Campaign will take this fight to the nation’s state legislatures, working in primaries and general elections to elect populist candidates in 13 states: Maine, Massachusetts, New York, West Virginia, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Minnesota, Iowa, Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada.

“Today was just the beginning. While Mayor Emanuel bought this election hand over fist, we’re seeing a new left pole emerge in American politics,” said George Goehl, Chicagoan and Executive Director of National People’s Action Campaign. “In cities across the country, progressive populists are taking on corporate politicians and running on an agenda that puts people and planet before excessive profits. As discontent with a system that’s rigged in favor of corporations and the super-wealthy continues to grow, so too will a new political movement.”

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People’s Action is a national network of organizations with a million people across 29 states.

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