SWP running for governor in California special election

By Betsey Stone
May 31, 2021
Dennis Richter, right, Socialist Workers Party candidate for governor of California, and campaign supporter Alyson Kennedy talk to Long Beach port worker Javier Marquez May 16. Marquez got Teamster Rebellion to learn how revolutionary-minded unionists fought in 1930s.
Militant/Betsey StoneDennis Richter, right, Socialist Workers Party candidate for governor of California, and campaign supporter Alyson Kennedy talk to Long Beach port worker Javier Marquez May 16. Marquez got Teamster Rebellion to learn how revolutionary-minded unionists fought in 1930s.

LOS ANGELES — The Socialist Workers Party in California announced May 15 that it will run Dennis Richter, a Walmart worker and party leader, for governor in a special election to decide who might replace Democratic Party governor Gavin Newsom if he is recalled in an upcoming election.

“Dissatisfaction with the capitalist parties is growing,” Richter told the meeting here where the campaign was announced. “Over 2 million people signed petitions for the recall election, initiated by Republicans. It got wide support because of opposition to Newsom’s arbitrary implementation of COVID shutdown rules, the resulting destruction of many small businesses and his delay in reopening schools and places of worship.

“Our party was not involved in the recall drive but we are jumping into this race to put forward a working-class view,” Richter said. “We’ll be raising the need for working-class action independent of both Republicans and Democrats and building solidarity with strikes and joining fights against cop brutality.” In the course of such struggles a movement and leadership can be forged to overturn capitalist rule and establish a workers and farmers government.

Desperate to avoid being recalled, Newsom is proposing a $100 billion “stimulus” plan that includes $600 checks doled out for two-thirds of Californians. “Unlike the Democrats who offer handouts, the SWP calls for a fight for a massive public works program to put millions to work at union-scale wages building hospitals, child care centers and other things workers need,” Richter said. “We are for the unions fighting for such a program, getting us working where we can organize together. This is what gives us power to change things.”

Alyson Kennedy, Texas SWP campaign chair, addressed the meeting, urging solidarity with the strikes by miners, steelworkers, refinery workers and others. “With the lifting of the shutdowns, we are seeing a stirring in the working class,” she said. “Employers are on the offensive to make the working class pay for any profits they lost in the pandemic. But with more of us getting called back to work, confidence is growing and workers are starting to fight back.”

Campaigning in Long Beach the next day, Richter and Kennedy met Javier Marquez, a port worker and member of International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 13. Kennedy told him that when she and other coal miners were on strike in Utah in 2003-2004, the longshore union sent its drill team there in an act of solidarity.

Marquez knew about the 1934 San Francisco longshore strike that established union power on the waterfront. That same year strikes and organizing drives by truck drivers in Minneapolis transformed the Teamsters union into a fighting social movement. Marquez got a copy of Teamster Rebellion by Farrell Dobbs, a leader of those struggles and of the SWP, along with a subscription to the Militant.

‘Neither Democrats nor Republicans represent us’

Sara Lobman, the SWP candidate for Manhattan Borough president, and campaign supporters Tamar Rosenfeld and Steve Clark were invited into the apartment of Heriberto Nuñez and his mother Maria, a retired garment worker, May 14.

Nuñez was a driver and dispatcher in New York until he had two strokes a year ago. Partially paralyzed, he is no longer able to drive. When he went to the Social Security office about his disability insurance, he asked for help finding a job compatible with his medical situation. “I’m able to be a productive citizen,” he told officials. “Help me get work.” But they just looked at me, he told the campaigners.

Lobman said that this is what millions of workers face, disabled or not, and pointed to the SWP’s proposals aimed at uniting employed and unemployed workers to fight to get millions of workers back into jobs. Both the Democrats and Republicans are parties of the wealthy rulers, she said. Workers need our own party to speak and act in our own interests.

Nuñez, who said he’s been a registered Democrat, agreed, saying, “Neither party represents the working class. Neither party represents us.” He and his mother got a subscription to the Militant  and a Spanish edition of Are They Rich Because They’re Smart? Class, Privilege, and Learning Under Capitalism by SWP National Secretary Jack Barnes.

Striking miners pick up the Militant

Susan LaMont and Maggie Trowe were part of a team of SWP campaigners who visited the picket lines of coal miners on strike against Warrior Met Coal in Brookwood, Alabama, May 16. Some 1,100 miners in the United Mine Workers at several sites have been out since April 1.

When the team stopped to eat at the Pottery Grill in Cottondale, the owner, Tim Foster, told them he often sends food to the pickets. He added a pound of pulled pork and some sides to what they’d ordered to take to the picket line, and subscribed to the Militant.

When Trowe and LaMont campaigned in nearby Northport, they met two young miners, Skyler Yocum and Steven Voltz, on strike for the first time. Both had worked at nonunion mines outside Alabama and thought they and other miners who came from out of state had been hired because bosses thought they were more likely to cross a picket line than miners from Alabama. Voltz got a subscription to the Militant. The campaign team sold six subscriptions to the Militant  and five books by SWP and other revolutionary leaders.

Recognize Palestine, Israel

SWP campaigners Dan Fein and Naomi Craine May 15 discussed the party’s program with working people they met in Bridgeview, a Chicago suburb, where many people from the Middle East live. They distributed the SWP’s 2017 statement, “For Recognition of a Palestinian State and of Israel.”

“There needs to be peace and respect for everyone,” said Abdelsamad Ali, a delivery driver originally from Sudan, when Fein and Craine knocked on his door. Craine said that the capitalist rulers of Israel and the Arab states as well as the Hamas leaders all treat working people as cannon fodder and foster religious and national divisions to advance their own interests.

“Yes, in my country too, the rulers divide people,” he said. Ali got a subscription to the Militant, along with the book Cuba and the Coming American Revolution by Jack Barnes.

Joanne Kuniansky, the SWP’s candidate for New Jersey governor, will file some 1,500 signatures at the state election office in Trenton May 20. Campaign supporters collected nearly double the 800 signatures required, reflecting the widespread interest in a working-class road forward and support for the SWP to be on the ballot. During the ballot drive scores of subscriptions to the Militant  and books by SWP and other revolutionary leaders were sold.

To help expand the readership of the Militant  and books on revolutionary working-class politics, or to contribute to the Militant Fighting Fund, see the directory for the distributor nearest you. Or visit themilitant.com to purchase a subscription and contribute online.