It’s time to run candidates: A call for discussion and action

BY:Communist Party USA| April 9, 2021
It’s time to run candidates: A call for discussion and action


People are looking for more fundamental solutions to the problems of everyday living, which have been made all the more urgent with the coming together of the COVID pandemic, institutional racism and inequality, the economic crisis, and the environmental crisis.

As part of the discussion on Party building this year, we propose including discussion on running Communist candidates, as a collective discussion among the National, Districts, and clubs. In the Political Action Commission subcommittee established to discuss this issue, emphasis was placed on the importance of our candidates coming out of struggles in the communities and unions.

Another important area of discussion is the question of voter suppression laws, and ballot access laws which impact our candidates. This is part of the national discussion today on the over 250 voter suppression proposals put forward in 43 states by the Republican Party after the 2020 elections.

In a recent report, Joe Sims said, “We really can’t be a political party if we don’t run candidates.”

*  We make a unique contribution to combating crises facing people looking for answers. Capitalism cannot solve our society’s fundamental problems.  As the last election demonstrated, the people’s movement has propelled victories that laid the basis for creating programs that improve the lives of the working class.

*  More people are looking at socialism and rejecting anti-communism — 2020 elections in general; Georgia in particular. Left candidates are winning up and down the ballot — DSA, Our Revolution, independent socialists, Working Families Party, especially at local level. Scaring the hell out of the ruling class. Do a study of where these candidates have won, e.g., Our Revolution candidates won 76% of their races.

*  Approach our campaigns as serious campaigns to win (if we do or not), beyond just to educate. Best candidates come out of struggles in the community and in alliance with our partners. Project advanced solutions but also very practical questions of people’s daily lives and needs. Denise emphasizes that “you have to solve the problem of potholes, trash collection.”

*  Collective discussion in Party on national, district, club level — how to run — where to run — school board, water commissioner, city council, county council, state legislature, and Congress. Importance of collectively reaching conclusions about who and when to run including with our partners in struggle. Concentrate on down-ballot races.

*  Districts think out where and if it’s possible to have candidates — how can these races elevate the struggles in the area. But also consider a couple of races as a national concentration. Flexibility of what line to run on, depends on local situation:  on Communist Party line, as independents, in non-partisan elections, Democrat, but especially in alliance with others. The important question is running — not on what line — this is a tactical question. Principled question is the issues.

*  In the subcommittee questions got raised: “Should we run in the Democratic Party; are we giving up our independence, our class approach, the Democratic Party is a bourgeois party and can’t be reformed.” It was agreed that we should always emphasize the importance of candidates coming out of struggles in the community — running in coalition with those we have been active with. Example of Denise who won despite a real red-baiting campaign, and was defended by the coalition she ran with.. Left-center coalitions apply to electoral work. We bring a special contribution on unity and what it means.

* In the 1980s and 1990s we ran a number of candidates. Every campaign helped to build the working-class movement and at the same time built the Party. This will be true today.


Results of survey of districts

We surveyed districts to determine exactly where we have elected and appointed officials and whether there have been discussions on running candidates in districts.

*  Districts welcomed the discussion.

*  We have several elected and appointed officials who ran and won because they are known in their community and part of struggle.

* There has been informal rather than formal discussion in districts about running. There is recognition of the need to run — often propelled by new members, some of whom want to run.



1. Include discussion on running candidates as part of the overall discussion on building the Party.

2. Have as a goal running where possible. especially in local elections. There should be collaboration between the National Party and the districts and clubs.

3. Possibly concentrate nationally on one or two candidates where we go all out to win and put resources into campaigns.

4. Develop guidelines for how to consider a candidacy and a collective process of deciding how, who, and where to run and carry out the effort. This should include connections to local struggles and relationship building. It also should include collaboration between local and national Party organization in decision making.

5. Develop a national platform which can be adapted to state/local conditions.

6. School for candidates: develop guidelines and work with candidates on how to run — Voter registration, education, engagement and turnout, fund-raising, status of public financing, social media, concentration, research, positions on issues, greater visibility (e.g., testifying at state and/or local public hearings), etc. — use 2021 to prepare and educate our candidates. It often takes running more than one time to get elected. We want to win, but running itself is a learning experience.

7. Reestablish Progressive Public Officials, a network of those who hold elected and appointed public office who are in and around us, as a way of mutual support and action on policy.

8. Hold a discussion on voter suppression, which would include the question of voter intimidation and develop a program to democratize our election laws.

9. Study where are the main local elections we can run in 2022 and 2023.

10. Maintain the sub-committee on Communist candidates as part of the Political Action Commission to help carry out these recommendations.

This outline to guide Party-wide discussion and action on Communist candidates was drafted by the Political Action Commission on February 22, 2021, and presented to the National Board on April 7, 2021.



    The Communist Party USA is a  revolutionary working-class  political party founded in 1919 in Chicago, IL. The Communist Party stands for the interests of the American working class and the American people. It stands for our interests in both the present and the future. Solidarity with workers of other countries is also part of our work. We work in coalition with the labor movement, the peace movement, the student movement, organizations fighting for equality and social justice, the environmental movement, immigrants rights groups and the health care for all campaign. But to win a better life for working families, we believe that we must go further. We believe that the American people can replace capitalism with a system that puts people before profit — socialism. We are rooted in our country's revolutionary history and its struggles for democracy. We call for "Bill of Rights" socialism, guaranteeing full individual freedoms.

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