On August 11th, Twin Cities DSA member Omar Fateh won the DFL primary for State Senate in SD62. Fateh’s win represents the latest example of candidates who have unseated long-time Democratic incumbents by running on a platform of democratic socialism – with Jen McEwen’s win in MN Senate District 7 being another cause for celebration.
Fateh and his campaign outorganized incumbent Jeffrey Hayden, a Democratic party power-player with many establishment connections. While Twin Cities DSA was only one of many community organizations supporting Fateh, it was our early endorsement that enabled him to capture an overwhelming majority of DFL delegates and capture the party endorsement from Hayden. Going out door-to-door with Fateh himself, I saw the candidate introduce himself as a socialist and describe his visions for racial justice, rent control, and protecting the environment with big, bold plans. Late in the game, Hayden tried his best to pivot to Fateh’s momentum by putting out a mailer claiming he also supports a Green New Deal and Medicare-for-All, which came as news to those who have followed his tenure.
There are many lessons for DSA to take from this victory, but I believe the biggest one for us is that we should not sell ourselves short of our ability to beat the status quo at the ballot box. While DSA is small compared to the DFL establishment, we have the skills and discipline to bring people around to our side through our vision of a better world. Many of the institutions we challenge in these elections simply do not organize – they rely on donors and name recognition, but would never turn people out to knock on a door. As a comrade said at a DSA meeting late last year, when we have the opportunity to seize power, we need to go for it.
If you are in Senate District 62, be absolutely sure to vote for Omar Fateh in the general election, and we’ll have the beginnings of a DSA caucus in the Capitol building!