On March 19, Danny Davis won the Democratic Primary for Congress in Chicago's 7th Congressional District (West Side), and won the general election in November, 1996. Why is this particularly interesting to the New Party? Because Davis became the first New Party member elected to the U.S. Congress.
Name: Danny K. Davis
Occupation: Before becoming a US Congressperson, Davis was a Cook County Commissioner, but his real occupation has been an activist for social and economic justice. As a community organizer, health care planner, and teacher, Davis has worked to address the problems faced by people in the inner city.
"I'm proud to be the first New Party member in the House of Representatives. Now we need to build a nationwide progressive-populist political organization which can aggressively fight back against those who are driving American politics in an anti-democratic direction."
Political History: In 1979, Davis ran against the powerful and entrenched (and corrupt) Democratic "machine" and was elected to the Chicago Board of Aldermen, the equivalent of city council. Four years later, Davis was one of only four aldermen to support Harold Washington's successful bid to become Chicago's first black mayor.
In early 1995, several Illinois New Party members participated in a 29th Ward People's Assembly meeting (a grassroots neighborhood organization) which Davis chaired. When he heard the NP members talk about their efforts to fight for jobs and the environment, he quickly became an NP member himself. Just months later, long-time Congressional incumbent Cardis Collins announced her retirement. After consulting with leaders of community, political, and labor groups, Davis decided to enter the race.
"Why did I run for Congress? I want to fight for the rights of working people and help revive the American labor movement. The right-wingers running Congress are working hard to turn back the clock to a time before there were unions, an eight-hour day, worker health and safety regulations, and a minimum wage."
The Race: Davis topped 13 rivals for the Democratic nomination by focusing on the issues people care about æ supporting a city-wide living wage campaign and the WASTE campaign, an effort to force the shutdown of a noxious Northwest incinerator.
"New Party members played an important role in our campaign æ they were out there hitting the doors with literature, hosting house parties to raise money, phone banking to turn out voters, and helping to develop our issues program. If the Democrats take back the Congress in November, which I hope is the case, then we'll desperately need to build a visible progressive presence in Washington. And the best way to do that is by building local NP power."