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stands a decent chance of winning, New Party chapters have claimed 110 victories in 163 contests so far. There are no New Party chapters in Texas yet, but that’s likely to change early next year in Hous ton, where the current Campaign for a Living Wage has drawn together a coalition of community groups, including ACORN, unions, student associations and churchesjust the sort of pre-existing infrastructure the New Party prefers to begin organizing. According to Jeff Ordower, a Houston ACORN organizer, Living Wage Campaign workers are trying to put together a sponsoring ,committee for a Progressive Houston chapter of the New Party, which would take shape soon after the January 18 election \(when voters decide on the and continue it as a coalition for the New Party,” says Ordower. “At the least ACORN will be in it, and at most, many other groups will join us.” Once the committee is in place, the work Bill Lipton is doing in Brooklynthe house parties, the neighborhood visits, the progressive discussion and agenda-buildingwill begin in Houston, the city where this year’s choices in the 25th Congressional District race ranged from center to right to right-wing-weirdo. Currently there are New Party chapters in ten states and the District of Columbia. Though party leaders want to continue organizing before holding a founding convention \(tentatively planned for has passed a “Principles” document that outlines what party member Bruce Colburn and national chair/co-founder Joel Rogers have called “a radical, practical, majoritarian program for democratic and economic renewal”including wage increases, higher environmental standards, revitalized cities, “starting-gate equality” for children, public funding of elections, single-payer health insurance, and a simplified, progressive tax system. Right now living-wage ordinances and campaign finance reform are the big items on chapter agendas, says Glickman, but party members are also campaigning over issues such as controlling reckless development in Little Rock, or opposing public funding of sports stadiums in Minneapolis/St. Paul. New Party members have gained seats on school boards, city councils, and state legislatures, and in November the party saw its first member elected to Congress: Chicago Democrat Danny Davis, who joined the New Party in 1995, won the city’s 7th District race as a Democrat with New Party support. Davis’ case provides one example of the way the New Party builds alliances, rather than casting itself in unilateral opposition to the Democratic party. “It is clear that to push the Democrats toward our values requires organization among us,” Colburn and Rogers wrote recently in The Nation, “so let’s get organized. If the Democrats respond to our organization by becoming a genuinely progressive party, great. If they don’t, we can take our work to a higher level of independence.” The party both runs its own candi dates and endorses others whose campaign agendas reflect, progressive values, supporting selected Democratsbut also alerting them to the presence of active progressive constituents who will hold them accountable. Better to try to push Democrats, goes the New Party thinking, than to engage in losing battles. Many of the races that chapters have been involved in so far are nonpartisan, but in partisan elections the New Party doesn’t want to ask supporters to waste votes on a candidate with little chance of winning, as third parties have been forced to do in the past. With that in mind, the party advocates multiple-party nominations, or “fusion” tickets, in which the same candidate can appear on more than one ballot line, letting voters express support for a particular platform without wasting their votes. Fusion tickets were common practice in the nineteenth century, when they allowed third parties like the Grangers and the Populists to wield influence by cross-nominating major party candidates; they were widely outlawed in the 1890s by state legislators who wanted to squelch minority representation. In New York state, where fusion is still legal, third-party votes have been crucial to the victories of candidates from across the spectrum, among them former governor Mario Cuomo and current New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani. So while local chapters have been agitating for school reform and charter amendments, the New Party’s brain trust has been fighting in court to change the rules of electoral politics: Rogers \(a University of Wisconsin professor and 1995 winner of a Rogers’ sion. They originally filed in Wisconsin in 1990 and were turned down by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals; then in 1994 they filed in Minnesota, and the 8th Circuit Appeals Court found in their favor last January. The Supreme Court agreed to take the case last spring, and on December 4 it heard arguments, in which Harvard Law School professor Lawrence Tribe argued on behalf of the New Party. “PEOPLE ARE HUNGRY FOR SOME SORT OF SENSIBLE PROGRESSIVE POLITICS,” SAYS CANTOR, ONE OF THE PARTY’S FOUNDERS AND AN ENERGETIC PROMOTER, “ONE THAT IS COMPETENT, LIVELY AND WANTS TO GOVERN.” 6 THE TEXAS OBSERVER DECEMBER 20, 1996