The Diversity Declaration

Government of the People, by the People, and for the People

Filtering by Tag: Democrats

Motivation Monday: Challenges for Diversity Candidates in Maryland and New Jersey

Diversity candidates for upcoming Democratic primaries, in increasingly diverse districts with significant immigrant populations, face tough challenges - even from within the Democratic Party.

Aruna Miller's strong showing in Maryland's 6th district has made her the preferred target of GOP attack ads.  In New Jersey's 2nd district, a conservative, white, male Democrat has the full backing of the Democratic Party establishment, who sees in him its best chance of recapturing a seat held by a Republican for two decades.  Progressive activists in New Jersey see the Party turning its back on viable candidates more in line with the values it claims to represent, in service of trying to take back the U.S. House of Representatives.

The Washington Post and Politico offer some insight into how things are shaking out in both Maryland and New Jersey.

Democratic Primary is Two Months Away but the Republicans have Already Picked Out Their Favorite Candidate to Attack | Washington Post

How Progressives Got Steamrolled in New Jersey | Politico 

 

Elections in Virginia:  Who Stands for All of Us?

Tomorrow, June 13, is Virginia's primary election.  While Diversity Matters does not provide candidate endorsements, we do track candidate statements and records, and will be sharing our assessments with you.  Today we focus on the primary candidates for Governor and Lieutenant-Governor.  

While we are non-partisan, there is a stark divide between the statements and actions of the Democratic and Republican candidates with respect to some very important recent events, including the neo-Nazi actions to protect Confederate statues in Charlottesville, and the anti-Muslim demonstrations (and counter-demonstrations) this past weekend.  Basically, Dems have staked out all the high ground on these issues.  Every one of the Democratic candidates has a stated policy position on civil rights; none of the Republicans do.  Republican candidates, sadly, are either openly embracing white nationalism, or trying hard not to get in the way of rising intolerance, at least for the primaries.  Perhaps the winners will espouse more tolerant views going into next year's general election, but let's not forget their silence around these recent events.

We're tracking statements by all the candidates on what they will do (or have done) to promote diversity and inclusion among their own staff and business partners, what they think the state government can do, and how they are responding to recent acts of hate speech in the state.

The Democrats:

Overall the Democratic candidates have stepped up to own the space when it comes to inclusion.  We reached out to both the gubernatorial candidates via social media, and Tom Periello replied to us.  Here is what he said:

"Virginia is proud of its diversity and I will fight to keep Virginia inclusive and undivided."  His "Inclusive Virginia" coalition engages more than 30 immigrant minority community organizations.  He hasn't been shy about taking a stand for immigrants and communities of color; his platform proudly notes that he joined protesters at Dulles airport when the original travel ban was issued in January 2017, and states he "will ensure Virginia is a firewall against Donald Trump’s hateful and bigoted agenda by championing anti-discrimination protections and commonsense policies, and taking any and every legal means to combat orders like the travel ban."

Although we heard nothing from Ralph Northram, his official platform contains a number of statements on specific policies he would support that would promote inclusion, including ending discrimination in criminal sentencing and in housing.  He opposes the travel ban.  He was cautious in his reaction to the Charlottesville protests, saying that local communities needed to make their own decisions about Confederate symbols.

As for the Lieutenant Governor candidates, Gene Rossi replied to us and was willing to get specific about our call to ensure that Virginia state government ensures diversity among its own staff and business partners.  He stated that he would insist on anti-discrimination practices in hiring and said he would "encourage and persuade companies that diversity is simply good business!"  We also note that of the Lt. Gov. candidates, Rossi's feed was the only one that mentioned his participation in LGBTI rights events this past weekend.

We didn't hear from Justin Fairfax or Susan Platt. Both candidates made strong statements about taking down the Confederate monuments and symbols.  Fairfax' statement was more detailed and personal, with specific commitments to the African American community:  "At the same time that we rightfully remove from our public square the indefensible and psychologically harmful physical monuments celebrating slavery, the Confederacy, and Jim Crow, we also must do the urgent, difficult, and serious policy work of removing the present-day vestiges of the same, including dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline, closing the racial wealth and health gap . . . . increasing diversity among our judges, prosecutors, and public defenders, and continuing the fight against racial gerrymandering and voter suppression."

The Republicans:

For Governor:  Ed Gillespie has avoided engaging his rivals and taking a clear position on controversial issues such as the confederate memorials (like Northram, he said it should be a local decision).  He did reply to a Washington Post article this past weekend that accused him of taking support from an anti-Muslim activist, stating that he "does not condone hatred or discrimination under any circumstance or in any form." However, we make note that when it comes to women's rights, he has been endorsed by the National Right to Life committee.

Frank Wagner is the man in the middle.  A Washington Post article on the candidate positions on LGBTI rights noted Wagner's support for anti-discrimination measures in housing and employment.  He made a stop in the weekend campaign events at the Philippine cultural center to cultivate Asian-American voters.  He opposed removing the Confederate statue in Charlottesville, but refrained from making a strong statement, simply calling it 'political correctness run amok.'

Corey Stewart is the openly intolerant white nationalist.  His response to the spate of hate crimes suggest an aggressive anti-diversity agenda.  He fanned the flames of the Charlottesville protests, showing up to address the white nationalists and posting numerous provocative statements on social media intended to stir up a white nationalist base (i.e. "I will protect historical monuments from destruction and keep Virginia heritage intact.")  He supports the travel ban and has made 'cracking down' on illegal immigration an official plank of his policy platform.

And the Lieutenant Governor candidates on the Republican side:  Bryce Reeves was called out by the Washington Post for his openly anti-gay stance and rhetoric, contrasted with Jill Vogel, who has affirmed support for LGBTI rights.  However, Vogel opposes women's access to legal abortion.  Neither candidate seems to have any statements of support from Latino or African-American communities, nor is there much evidence of outreach to these constituencies, but Reeves has made some efforts to engage Asian-Americans.

Moving on to the general election for Virginia's state legislature:  Keep following us, as once the primaries are behind us we'll start taking a closer look at state legislative races and candidates for the general election this November.

We are a non-partisan initiative and will track Democratic, Republican and third party or independent candidates.

DNC Officer Elections Tomorrow: What to Watch For

Starting with this disclaimer: We aren’t endorsing a particular candidate or candidates, and Diversity Matters is not a single-party initiative. However, we are closely watching tomorrow’s DNC Officer Elections to see whether we may have an opportunity to infuse our principles into one of our country’s main political parties.

What we’ll be looking for tomorrow:

The Vice Chair race! This has been far less profiled than the race for Chair, but the VC candidates are for the most part more exciting, energizing and creative than the Chair candidates- and they are talking about fundamental changes to how the DNC recruits and supports candidates. These changes would make the party more accountable to a broader and more diverse base. Here is what some of them are saying:

Latoia Jones: “Let the communities tell us who we are going to run.” She has been raising hard, pragmatic issues about budgets, challenging behind-closed- door decisions about spending (or choosing not to spend) on particular candidates and races.

Michael Blake: “We need to be working for ALL of our communities, ALL of the time.” He has a great organizer’s grasp on what this means, and that small things like when and where you hold meetings can include or exclude whole constituencies.

Liz Jaff: “The movements don’t need to come to us. We need to connect to THEM.” She admitted openly that her ideas for harnessing the energy of the netroots/e-activists might not be well-received by party traditionalists but is willing to push the envelope.

And we noted that Rick Palacio was one of the few candidates to raise an issue we believe is very important: the DNC’s own business partners. He was strong on the need for a more diverse and inclusive vendor base.

And what we’ll be looking for AFTER tomorrow:

CLEAR JOB DESCRIPTIONS. Time for the DNC to get a little more transparent on its expectations for both its Chair and Vice Chair, and its metrics to hold its own party officials accountable. We don’t need a talking head for the Sunday morning cable shows. We need great clarity on strategy for expanding and mobilizing the party’s base. We heard less about this from the Chair candidates than the Vice Chairs, so a statement picking up some of the VC ideas would be a great start.

MONEY MATTERS. Some of the Chair candidates, including Ray Buckley and Jehmu Greene, have spoken about the need for transparency and accountability by the DNC on how it is spending its money. We will want to see budget decisions that show a commitment to spend in ways that encourage and enfranchise people who may not be voting, or facing obstacles to voting. It’s not too late to weigh in directly with your state officers via this web link to let them know you expect future candidates for office to endorse, and be accountable to, the principles in the Diversity Declaration!