The national Democratic Socialists of America on Thursday endorsed a new U.S. Senate candidate in Maine and a dozen others seeking office at state and local levels across the country, seeking to capitalize on record levels of attention.
The most prominent endorsement was for Zak Ringelstein, the Democratic nominee for Maine’s Senate seat — though he’s a long shot, challenging sitting Sen. Angus King, an independent who already sides with Democrats on most votes.
Also gaining backing of the socialist organization were statehouse candidates in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Montana, Maine and Arizona, and local school and county positions in Minnesota, Texas, California and Colorado.
“We’re serious about building and taking power in every part of the country, whether it be school boards in Minnesota or state legislatures in Montana, Maryland and Maine” said Renée Paradis, co-chair of the DSA’s electoral committee.
The socialists have gained attention amid the backlash against President Trump. But many Democratic leaders are wary of embracing the far-left movement, figuring it would turn off middle-America voters.
Prominent Democrats who do identify themselves as democratic socialists, though, insist they’re becoming mainstream.
The DSA’s new picks join 14 others from earlier this year. The most prominent of those was Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, whose stunning upset of Rep. Joe Crowley in a Democratic primary in New York turned her into a national political sensation.
Others, though, haven’t fared as well.
Kaniela Ing, a DSA-endorsed candidate for a congressional seat in Hawaii, collected just 6 percent of the vote en route to defeat in the Democratic primary this week.
And none of the three candidates the DSA endorsed for the Montgomery County Council in the Maryland suburbs north of Washington were able to win their primary.
DSA said, however, that between the national socialists and their local chapters, they have backed 34 different candidates who have won primary races.
In addition to Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, they also include Rashida Tlaib, who won the Democratic nomination for a U.S. House seat in Michigan. She doesn’t face major opposition in November’s elections, essentially guaranteeing her election.