Most New Party members hailed from the Democratic Socialists of America and the “Community Organizing” group ACORN. The party’s Chicago chapter also included a large contingent from the Committees of Correspondence, a Marxist coalition of former Maoists, Trotskyists, and Communist Party USA members.
The New Party’s modus operandi included the political strategy of “electoral fusion,” where it would nominate, for various political offices, candidates from other parties (usually Democrats), thereby enabling each of those candidates to occupy more than one ballot line in the voting booth. By so doing, the New Party often was able to influence candidates’ platforms. (Fusion of this type is permitted in seven states — Connecticut, Delaware, Idaho, Mississippi, New York, South Carolina, and Vermont — but is common only in New York.)
Though Illinois was not one of the states that permitted electoral fusion, in 1995 Barack Obama nonetheless sought the New Party’s endorsement for his 1996 state senate run. He was successful in obtaining that endorsement, and he used a number of New Party volunteers as campaign workers.
New Ground 42 (New Ground is the Official Newsletter of the Chicago Democratic Socialist Party) September October 1995. Obama signed a contract promising an visible and open relationship with the Marxist New Party:
About 50 activists attended the Chicago New Party membership meeting in July. The purpose of the meeting was to update members on local activities and to hear appeals for NP support from four potential political candidates. The NP is being very active in organization building and politics. There are 300 members in Chicago. In order to build an organizational and financial base the NP is sponsoring house parties. Locally it has been successful both fiscally and in building a grassroots base. Nationwide it has resulted in 1000 people committed to monthly contributions. The NP’s political strategy is to support progressive candidates in elections only if they have a concrete chance to “win”. This has resulted in a winning ratio of 77 of 110 elections. Candidates must be approved via a NP political committee. Once approved, candidates must sign a contract with the NP. The contract mandates that they must have a visible and active relationship with the NP. The political entourage included Alderman Michael Chandler, William Delgado, chief of staff for State Rep Miguel del Valle, and spokespersons for State Sen. Alice Palmer, Sonya Sanchez, chief of staff for State Sen. Jesse Garcia, who is running for State Rep in Garcia’s District; and Barack Obama.
New Ground 46 May-June 1996 DSA Endorsement:
Three out of four candidates endorsed by Chicago DSA in the March primary election won. Only Willie Delgado lost in his effort to win nomination for 3rd General Assembly District; he received only 43% of the vote. Danny Davis walked away with the nomination for the 7th Congressional District; he also had no trouble defeating two candidates for 29th Ward Democratic Committeeman. Patricia Martin’s race for Judge of the Circuit Court (7th Subcircuit) was more of a cliffhanger as she won by only 3%. She will have no opposition in November’s General Election. Barack Obama won nomination to the Illinois Senate with no opposition. He will have no opposition in November. The 49th Ward non-binding referendum in support of the Jobs and Living Wage Ordinance won with 3,164 votes against 576 “no” votes and 1,140 “abstentions”.
New Ground 47 July August 1: New Party Endorsement:
Secondly, the NP’s ’96 Political Program has been enormously successful with 3 of 4 endorsed candidates winning electoral primaries. All four candidates attended the NP membership meeting on April 11th to express their gratitude. Danny Davis, winner in the 7th Congressional District, invited NPers to join his Campaign Steering Committee. Patricia Martin, who won the race for Judge in 7th Subcircuit Court, explained that due to the NP she was able to network and get experienced advice from progressives like Davis. Barack Obama, victor in the 13th State Senate District, encouraged NPers to join in his task forces on Voter Education and Voter Registration. The lone loser was Willie Delgado, in the 3rd Illinois House District. Although Delgado received 45% of the vote, he lost by only 800 votes. Delgado commented that it was due to the NP volunteers that he carried the 32nd Ward. Delgado emphasized that he will remain a visible community activist in Humbolt Park. He will conduct four Immigration workshops and encouraged NP activists to get involved.
New Ground 45 March – April, 1996 Obama is a panelist at Town Hall meeting of Chicago Democratic Socialist Party, the University of Chicago Democratic Socialist of America, and The University Democrats. Obama calls for redistribution of Income:
A Town Meeting on Economic Insecurity: Employment and Survival in Urban America By Bob Roman Over three hundred people attended the first of two Town Meetings on Economic Insecurity on February 25 in Ida Noyes Hall at the University of Chicago. Entitled “Employment and Survival in Urban America”, the meeting was sponsored by the U of C DSA Youth Section, Chicago DSA and University Democrats. The panelists were Toni Preckwinkle, Alderman of Chicago’s 4th Ward; Barack Obama, candidate for the 13th Illinois Senate District; Professor William Julius Wilson, Center for the Study of Urban Inequality at the University of Chicago; Professor Michael Dawson, University of Chicago; and Professor Joseph Schwartz, Temple University and a member of DSA’s National Political Committee….
…. Now the issue is again coming to the front, but he wished the issue was on the Democratic agenda not just on Buchanan’s.
One of the themes that has emerged in Barack Obama’s campaign is “what does it take to create productive communities”, not just consumptive communities. It is an issue that joins some of the best instincts of the conservatives with the better instincts of the left. He felt the state government has three constructive roles to play.
The first is “human capital development”. By this he meant public education, welfare reform, and a “workforce preparation strategy”. Public education requires equality in funding. It’s not that money is the only solution to public education’s problems but it’s a start toward a solution. The current proposals for welfare reform are intended to eliminate welfare but it’s also true that the status quo is not tenable. A true welfare system would provide for medical care, childcare and job training. While Barack Obama did not use this term, it sounded very much like the “social wage” approach used by many social democratic labor parties. By “workforce preparation strategy”, Barack Obama simply meant a coordinated, purposeful program of job training instead of the ad hoc, fragmented approach used by the State of Illinois today.
The state government can also play a role in redistribution, the allocation of wages and jobs. As Barack Obama noted, when someone gets paid $10 million to eliminate 4,000 jobs, the voters in his district know this is an issue of power not economics. The government can use as tools labor law reform, public works and contracts…..
New Ground 69 March-April 2000 Endorsement For Congress:
For Congressman of the 1st Congressional District, the Executive Committee was faced with two very good candidates. As we are not making endorsements but merely recommendations, we felt no conflict in recommending both Bobby Rush and Barak Obama…. Barak Obama is serving only his second term in the Illinois State Senate so he might be fairly charged with ambition, but the same might have be said of Bobby Rush when he ran against Congressman Charles Hayes. Obama also has put in time at the grass roots, working for five years as a community organizer in Harlem and in Chicago. When Obama participated in a 1996 UofC YDS Townhall Meeting on Economic Insecurity, much of what he had to say was well within the mainstream of European social democracy.
New Party members and supported candidates won 16 of 23 races, including an at-large race for the Little Rock, Ark., City Council, a seat on the county board for Little Rock and the school board for Prince George’s County, Md. Chicago is sending the first New Party member to Congress, as Danny Davis, who ran as a Democrat, won an overwhelming 85% victory. New Party member Barack Obama was uncontested for a State Senate seat from Chicago.
The first NP member heads to Congress, as Danny Davis wins an overwhelming 85% victory yesterday (he got a higher percentage of the vote in that district than the President). NP member and State Senate candidate Barack Obama won uncontested.