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‘Left’ Democrats make gains in Washington DC primary

The Democratic Party primary elections in Washington DC last month saw a number of nominally left-leaning candidates prevail over their more conservative rivals. Matthew Frumin won the Democratic primary in Ward 3, Zachary Parker in Ward 5 and Brianne Nadeau (incumbent) in Ward 1.

In the heavily Democratic city, the winners of the primaries are usually almost guaranteed to win the general election. The three elected members of the “left-wing” Democratic council join Democratic councilor Janeese Lewis George, a self-proclaimed democratic socialist and supporter of the Black Lives Matter organization, on the council. This brings the number of “leftist” and even nominally “socialist” seats on the council to four out of 15, forming a sizable bloc in the district legislature.

Parker has been publicly endorsed by the Democratic Socialists of America, who have highlighted his support for expanding rent control and tenant protections, as well as “community safety efforts” as opposed to simply increasing the police budget. In a public statement, the Washington D.C. Chapter of the DSA proclaimed Parker’s candidacy as “a huge opportunity for the progressive left to elect an uncompromising champion for our values.”

The statement further stated, “Metro DC DSA endorsements are not merely a recommendation to DSA members to vote for a particular candidate, but rather a commitment to fight for that candidate to be elected.”

Frumin and Nadeau, although not officially supported by the DSA, were endorsed by a number of labor unions and other “progressive” groups. A statement on the Washington DC DSA blog reads: “[o]Overall, voters in the district chose to favor left-wing progressive candidates over moderate alternatives” in the June 21 primaries.

Frumin, a former State Department official in the Clinton administration, also advocated for affordable housing in the district and said he was a supporter of public education. These positions have undoubtedly gained traction with workers in the District of Columbia (DC) who face the same cost of living increases as workers around the world. Rents in the neighborhood are up more than 23% since May 2021, and average studio rents are $1,924; two-bedroom apartments are over $3,000.

Frumin was able to secure his victory a week before the election, when three other Ward 3 candidates dropped out of the race, backing him over his main rival, former DC Council staffer Eric Goulet. According to Washington PostBen Bergmann, one of Frumin’s rivals, denounced Goulet as “a conservative supporter of the business community” as he dropped out of the race.

Democratic Mayor Muriel Bowser won her primary, but with a much less comfortable lead than her previous victory in 2018. This time she faced a serious challenge from Robert White Jr., who garnered 40% of the vote. voice. White had campaigned to the left of Bowser, criticizing the incumbent’s pro-police and policing policies.

The leftist rhetoric of the candidates provoked the ire of Job. The latter chastised the residents of the district in an editorial a week before the primary. “The district has been blessed with a sober and stable leadership, but voters should remember that not long ago its government was in dysfunction and its finances in disarray. It would be a mistake to go back to that time,” the newspaper said.

The editorial board disclosed the nature of its concerns in a separate statement issued just after the election. “In addition to rising gun violence…the district is still reeling from the effects of the pandemic. How to bring back the city center? How to compensate for the loss of student learning? In other words, the Job calls for action to be taken to make workers produce more profits and to empower the police to quell any resistance.

In the same statement, the Job breathed a sigh of relief that Bowser won her primary and will likely be reelected to a third term in November. However, the publication feared that a “far left” board would make it more difficult for Bowser “to achieve his goals”.

District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser, center, speaks with constituents, Friday, June 10, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

The Job revealed something of the undemocratic state of bourgeois politics, saying that Bowser “will have to recalibrate her ‘my lane or the highway’ approach if she hopes to continue moving the city forward.”

Despite these infighting, no one should be under the illusion that any of the new council members will do anything substantial to help city workers. Parker’s so-called “leftist” pretensions are challenged by his open support for the right-wing Biden administration.

In an August 2020 tweet, the ‘Democratic Socialist’ said ‘we should all be proud’ that the Democratic Party has made Joe Biden and Kamala Harris its ‘flag bearers’.

A closer look at its platform proves it. As part of his “Cooperative, Community Wealth, and Small Business Development Platform,” Parker advocates for race-based tax credits and other small business incentives. His “workers power” approach is to implement a local version of the PRO law, a national Democratic Party initiative to strengthen company-backed unions and other measures to limit the class struggle to the limits set. by the bourgeois state.

Matthieu Frumin, despite the fulminations of the Job, is a similar case. In his ‘Public Safety’ campaign website page, despite invoking the murder of George Floyd and asserting that we shouldn’t ‘double down’ on old policies, lists as his first priority to build the forces police, followed by an increase in the recruitment and training of officers. The rest of his platform contains measures that claim to change “police culture” and other empty promises that do not commit him to anything concrete.

Frumin was endorsed by Ward 4 Council Member Janeese Lewis George, who was herself endorsed by Black Lives Matter and the DSA. George has a reputation for being critical of the police, but this is belied by his actual record on the council. This includes his open support for Bowser’s recent choice for police chief Robert J. Contee III. Contee, a longtime Metropolitan Police Department official, came to prominence last year when he spoke out against politicians who want to “coddle violent criminals”.