May 25, 2012


This Third Party Makes a Difference

The Working Families Party sets aside pipe dreams in favor of candidates and legislation with a chance in hell.

by Josh Harkinson, Mother Jones

In recent years, Oregon State Rep. Mike Schaufler spent some $6,000 from his campaign coffers on more than 90 separate visits to Magoo's Sports Bar in Salem. A five-term Democrat known around the capitol as "Bud Man," Schaufler was tight with Republicans and corporate donors, who helped him raise 60 percent more money than progressive challenger Jeff Reardon in the lead-up to last Tuesday's Democratic primary. So Schaufler must have awoken with an epic hangover on the morning after the election, because he somehow managed to lose his seat.

Reardon, a high school teacher with limited resources and minimal political juice, says he never could have dispatched such a powerful incumbent were it not for the help of a relatively new political force in Oregon: the Working Families Party. Since its founding in New York 14 years ago, the WFP has expanded into four other states and logged a string of high-profile political victories—from reforming New York's drug laws to providing the extra votes needed to clinch the election of Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy, a liberal leader in a fairly moderate state. Many progressives believe the WFP could eventually become the left's answer to the tea party.

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