Victory in 8th Circuit

In a historic decision reversing 100 years of electoral practice (Twin Cities New Party v. McKenna), the Court of Appeals in the 8th Circuit unanimously struck down Minnesota's ban on party "fusion." Also known as "plural nomination" or "cross-nomination," the practice refers to the nomination of a single candidate or slate of candidates by more than one party, with votes cast on each nominating party's line counting in candidate totals. A right to fusion is helpful to minor parties, especially during their early years, because it permits their members to express their values (voting on the minor party's line) without wasting their votes on candidates with no serious chance of winning. Fusion was critical to the success of third parties in the 19th century, but was widely banned in the U.S. after the defeat of the Populists for just this reason. Restoring this right has been a central goal of the New Party since its founding, and this case represents a giant leap forward in doing so. Before the Minnesota decision, fusion was legal in ten states; now it will be restored to seven more (the 8th Circuit includes MN, MO, IA, NB, AR, ND, SD). Additional challenges to state fusion bans are already underway in Pennsylvania and New Mexico, and are contemplated in other states in 1996. Given contrary rulings on the constitutionality of fusion bans in different Circuit Courts of Appeal, we expect the issue to make its way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which should result in a national restoration of the right.

On the Way to a Living Wage

Living wage campaigns by New Party chapters and community/labor allies are moving forward.

Milwaukee Milestone: After an aggressive grassroots campaign by Progressive Milwaukee/NP, the Milwaukee school board recently voted to raise the minimum wage for school employees and employees of school board contractors to $7.70 an hour -- liberating 3,000 low-wage service workers from perpetual poverty.

Phase Two in Twin Cities: While we lost our battle for the living wage initiative last November, we're well on the way to winning the war. The city councils in Minneapolis and St. Paul are establishing an unprecedented joint task force to propose ordinances on living wage jobs. New Party members and allies look to dominate the Minneapolis task force and have a strong presence in St. Paul. The New Party is organizing a precinct leader action network in several St. Paul and Minneapolis neighborhoods to mobilize support for living wage initiatives.

Around the Country: New Party chapters in Chicago, Montana, Washington, D.C., and Long Island are now launching or supporting living wage initiatives and legislative campaigns. Similar efforts -- to raise the minimum wage or attach wage requirements to public subsidies -- are also underway in California, Oregon, Missouri, Idaho, Houston, Denver, Boston, New York City, and elsewhere.

Winning in Wisconsin

The New Party continues to roll through Wisconsin, with victories this month in municipal and county primaries in Milwaukee and Madison. Progressive Milwaukee is backing three county board, one city council, and one school board candidate. Progressive Dane (Madison) is endorsing nine county board candidates. All NP-backed candidates won their primaries.

Chicago Campaigns

The Illinois New Party is working intensively on Willie Delgado's state representative campaign. Delgado is part of an emerging Latino network in Chicago. We're also backing Danny Davis in a Congressional race, Barack Obama for state representative, and judicial candidate Patricia Martin. In addition to the electoral work, the NP in Chicago is supporting a local living wage campaign and an effort to prevent the placement of a waste site on the West Side.

On the Move in Missoula

Having won a working majority in the City Council last November, the Missoula New Party is pressing ahead. First, they elected one of our own to be City Council President. Then, overcoming strident conservative opposition, they led a successful battle to repeal an anti-gay family definition housing ordinance. A door-to-door canvass during some of the coldest months of the year doubled the chapter's membership, and the chapter is about to launch a house party drive.

Ridin' the Info Superhighway

The New Party is modernizing its communications capacities. We now have a site on the World Wide Web _ _ as well as two discussion groups, an open discussion listserve and a moderated listserve. Our newly established Electronic Communications Subcommittee will soon be working to improve the content and design of the web page, increase our ability to do outreach in cyberspace, and help local chapters and organizers to communicate on the Internet.

The Next Generation

Not the Star Trek crew, but the next generation of progressive activists. The New Party will be recruiting and training scores of young people to work on candidate and ballot measure campaigns next summer.

It's a Big Country

...but we're moving across it. The New Party is launching its second major house party drive this Spring, to strengthen current chapters as well as establish new sites. The young Eastern Massachusetts chapter just kicked off a three-month drive, with a goal of 40 parties in the greater Boston area. Ten leaders participated in a speakers' training last week, and at the first event in Dorchester, 16 people attended, 10 joined, 4 became sustainers, and we raised $600. Sites being considered for expansion are Iowa, Missouri, western Colorado, Montana (outside Missoula), North Carolina, and New Jersey. Onward and upward...
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