DSA Remains Tight-Knit in City Council Endorsements

Alexa Avilés

Last Friday, the three newly elected lawmakers from the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) in Brooklyn announced their endorsements for current DSA members running for City Council.

Assemblymember-elect Marcela Mitaynes
State Sen.-elect Jabari Brisport
Assemblymember-elect Phara Souffrant Forrest

Assemblymembers-elected Marcela Mitaynes (D-Sunset Park, Red Hook) and Phara Souffrant Forrest (D-Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Prospect Heights, Crown Heights), and State Sen.-elect Jabari Brisport (D-Fort Greene, Boerum Hill, Red Hook, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Sunset Park, Gowanus, Park Slope) endorsed fellow DSAers Tiffany Caban and Jaslin Kaur in Queens, Adolfo Abreu in the Bronx, and Brooklyn’s Michael Hollingsworth, Brandon West, and Alexa Avilés. 

While it may be expected for DSA members to endorse one another, the fact that the DSA is not a political party unto itself may make these endorsements curious. All the candidates running are doing so on the Democratic Party line and raising money online through the Democratic Party’s Political Action Committee/Nonprofit, ActBlue.

“They (DSA) should seek to work within the Democratic party as part of a progressive big tent to maximize their reach,” says someone close to the Democratic party who asked to remain anonymous. “The DSA has had success in low-turnout elections drawing votes predominantly from gentrifying areas even as they profess to be working for poor and minority voters who are the heart and soul of the Democratic party.”

Although one member of the DSA who helps with electoral work, Michael Kinnucan, claims their electeds do endorse non-DSA candidates, such as Julia Salazar endorsing Comptroller Scott Stringer for mayor, there does not appear to be any announcements from Mitaynes, Souffrant Forrest, and Brisport, where they openly supported someone from outside the DSA sphere.

“The DSA is a cohesive organization,” says Brooklyn College Professor Immanuel Ness, who specializes in socialism and labor movements. “They typically pay dues, they work together. They are far more unified than most other third parties; [but] the DSA is not precisely a party, they are a political organization.” 

When asked to explain why they are supporting their fellow DSA members in the city council races, and not members of other parties thus far, Mitaynes, and Souffrant Forrest, did not respond to two emails each before this article went to press.

But Maddy Zimmerman, the communications director for Brisport’s campaign, did respond. She explained that while Brisport is open to endorsing candidates who are not DSA members, but only when there are exceptional candidates and will have a major impact when it comes to justice.

“We’re really looking at it from a movement level,” Zimmerman explains. “Movements for justice works best when everyone is working together. By nature, everyone has less power than the system that fuels the wealthy at the expense of working-class people. 

She further explains that the energy change cannot be everywhere at once. 

In response to the comment by the anonymous person close to the Democratic party, Zimmerman says, “The vast majority of New York City exists as a one-party town. In so many races, like in the State Senator-elect’s race, the Democratic primary is the race. We have to focus on pulling the party back to the ethos of supporting working-class people, and fighting for working-class people.” 

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