A guide to the left-wing players in the next election

Democratic Socialists at the New York City Women's March on Jan. 21, 2017.
Democratic Socialists at the New York City Women's March on Jan. 21, 2017.
Kate Way
Democratic Socialists at the New York City Women's March on Jan. 21, 2017.

A guide to the left-wing players in the next election

These groups are shaking up the Democratic primaries.
November 10, 2019

The insurgent candidates for Congress will be the first to tell you they’re part of a movement. But who’s organizing it? Here’s a primer on the groups working to elect left-leaning candidates in New York and beyond.

Working Families Party

Founded: 1998

What: The WFP is a national political party that, at least in New York, functions more like an advocacy organization for progressive policies – and for candidates within Democratic primaries.

Presidential endorsement: Elizabeth Warren

2018 NYC House endorsements: Rep. Joseph Crowley (pre-primary), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (post-primary), Rep. Thomas Suozzi, Rep. Grace Meng, Rep. Nydia Velázquez, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, Rep. Yvette Clarke, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, Rep. Max Rose, Rep. Carolyn Maloney, Rep. Adriano Espaillat, Rep. José E. Serrano, Rep. Eliot Engel

2020 NYC House endorsements: None yet

Democratic Socialists of America

Founded: 1982

What: DSA is a national membership organization that aims to build a socialist society through democratic systems. They have various chapters across New York that have exploded in membership in the past few years. 

Presidential endorsement: Bernie Sanders

2018 NYC House endorsements: Ocasio-Cortez

2020 NYC House endorsements: None yet

Justice Democrats

Founded: 2017

What: Formerly aligned with Brand New Congress, this political action committee was founded by several people, including Cenk Uygur, founder of the left-wing media outlet The Young Turks, and it recruits, trains and supports progressive Democrats for Congress.

Presidential endorsement: None yet, but de facto Sanders

2018 NYC House endorsements: Ocasio-Cortez, Michael DeVito (lost to Rep. Max Rose in the 11th District Democratic primary)

2020 NYC House endorsements: Jamaal Bowman (opposing Engel in the 16th District) and Ocasio-Cortez

Brand New Congress

Founded: 2016

What: Founded by former Bernie Sanders staffers, Brand New Congress recruits and supports racially and economically diverse candidates to run for Congress that support progressive tenets.

Presidential endorsement: None yet, but de facto Sanders

2018 NYC House endorsements: Ocasio-Cortez

2020 NYC House endorsements: Ocasio-Cortez, Bowman, Lauren Ashcraft (opposing Maloney in the 12th District), Shaniyat Chowdhury (opposing Rep. Gregory Meeks in the 5th District), Isiah James (opposing Clarke in the 9th District) and Tomas Ramos (running for Serrano’s seat, who is retiring, in the 15th District)

Indivisible

Founded: 2016

What: A national grassroots group of local liberal activists that sprung up in the wake of President Donald Trump’s election. With local chapters across the country, Indivisible provides support to activist issue campaigns and endorses Democratic candidates.

Presidential endorsement: None yet

2018 NYC House endorsements: Ocasio-Cortez

2020 NYC House endorsements: None yet

Arena

Founded: 2016

What: Arena is a political organization focused on training Democratic candidates and staff – mostly those with limited previous political experience. It also has an associated PAC to donate to favored candidates.

Presidential endorsement: None yet

2018 NYC House endorsements: Rose (opposing Rep. Dan Donovan in the 11th District)

2020 NYC House endorsements: Ritchie Torres (Running for Serrano’s seat in the 15th District)

Our Revolution

Founded: 2016

What: Born out of Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign, Our Revolution aims to educate the public on progressive policies and support progressive candidates.

Presidential endorsement: Bernie Sanders

2018 NYC House endorsements: Ocasio-Cortez

2020 NYC House endorsements: None yet

Blue America PAC

Founded: 2006

What: Created by a trio of progressive bloggers, the PAC supports anti-corporate progressive candidates running in difficult races.

Presidential endorsement: None yet

2018 NYC House endorsements: Ocasio-Cortez

2020 NYC House endorsements: Bowman, Chowdhury

Our Progressive Future

Founded: 2019

What: A New York City-based organization that promotes progressive candidates and political engagement among Gen Z youth.

Presidential endorsement: None yet

2018 NYC House endorsements: N/A

2020 NYC House endorsements: James, Melanie D’Arrigo (opposing Suozzi in the 3rd District), Mel Gagarin (opposing Meng in the 6th District)

YoungPAC

Founded: 2019

What: YoungPAC supports increasing political engagement among millenials and Gen Z and electing younger, progressive candidates

Presidential endorsement: None yet

2018 NYC House endorsements: N/A

2020 NYC House endorsements: Ashcraft

Jeff Coltin
is a staff reporter at City & State. He covers New York City Hall.
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