LOS ANGELES — “We urged workers and farmers to ignore the first question on the ballot — whether Gov. Gavin Newsom is recalled or not, but to cast a vote for the Socialist Workers Party on the second ballot question,” Dennis Richter the SWP’s candidate for governor, told a group of campaign supporters Sept. 14, the day of the election. “We know that switching one pro-capitalist candidate for another will accomplish nothing. The same problems will exist.”
“The course the SWP charted during this campaign will continue post-election,” Richter said. “We urged working people to break from the capitalist parties and rely on our own power to fight in our interests. To build a labor party, based on the trade unions, as a step toward taking power out of the hands of ruling capitalist families and establishing a workers and farmers government.”
Newsom defeated the Republican-organized attempt to recall him. “SWP campaigners found little interest from workers in whether Newsom was recalled,” Richter said. State officials report Richter got 8,815 votes, including 2,466 in Los Angeles County.
“But our campaign got a serious hearing as we addressed the real questions workers, small proprietors and working farmers face, and interest in learning about ongoing union battles like the strike by coal miners at Warrior Met in Alabama,” Richter said.
This election night SWP event was the culmination of widespread campaigning across the state. On Sept. 11 Richter and supporters spoke with working people on the border crosswalk between San Ysidro in southern California and Tijuana in Mexico.
Mario Herrera was returning to Mexico after a day of work at a maintenance job at a San Diego area hospital. In his early 20s, Herrera said he has to allow a couple hours to get across the border in the morning and often ends up working well beyond eight hours.
“The only way to get from the bottom is for workers to get educated,” Herrera told Richter.
“We should all have the same opportunities,” Richter said. “But we can only accomplish this by fighting as a class. If we don’t, the rich will take more and more from us.” Herrera purchased a copy of the Militant and the book In Defense of the US Working Class by SWP leader Mary-Alice Waters.
On Sept. 13 SWP campaigners were at Los Angeles Apparel, a large garment plant. Earlier in the pandemic, this factory was shut down for two weeks by Los Angeles County health officials, after bosses turned a blind eye to dangerous conditions that led to a rampant spread of COVID-19 in the plant resulting in 300 infections and four deaths.
Leaving work, Maria Pascual Simon told campaign supporters she didn’t want to talk to Richter if he was in favor of forcing workers to get the vaccine. “I don’t like the governor telling me I have to get the vaccine. Because it is my body, I decide,” she said.
But she did stop when SWP campaign supporters explained the party was opposed to the capitalist government being able to force workers to do things or face being fired from their jobs.
“Vaccinations are the only way we can get thousands more back to work and use our power to fight in our interests,” Richter said. “The trade union movement should be organizing to campaign for this in factories, at union halls and in working-class neighborhoods.”
“She had doubts, not confident in the medical information she was getting. I don’t know if I convinced her but it was important to debate this, to answer questions from those who have doubts about getting vaccinated,” Richter told the Militant. Simon purchased a subscription to the paper.
Over the past six weeks, the SWP campaigned at porches and doorsteps in working-class neighborhoods, at a Bay Area oil refinery, the large Farmer John meatpacking plant, at a number of Walmart stores and other plant gates.
“The response we got shows how hungry workers are to debate a road forward for the working-class,” Richter said.
Josefina Otero contributed to this article.