Progressive Massachusetts's Chapter Progressive Malden's activist Alicia de la Garza writes about working for endorsee Jason Lewis's campaign, and what's coming up!
More than just about any other community, Malden has borne the brunt of the political domino effect that started with the U.S. Senate vacancy created by John Kerry's confirmation as Secretary of State in January 2013. Late last fall, with Katherine Clark's election to the CD5 seat looking increasingly imminent, many of us were intently surveying the potential roster of candidates for the 5th Middlesex state senate seat quite early on. For some of us, this election felt deeply personal. Many of us had worked very hard on Elizabeth Warren’s U.S. Senate campaign back in 2012, and now with rumors swirling that our own state rep, Chris Fallon--a conservative Democrat now infamous for endorsing Scott Brown over Elizabeth Warren that year, might be seeking the seat, it seemed even more imperative that we quickly coalesce behind the most progressive candidate so we could hit the ground running as soon as the primary date was set.
Among the current electeds eligible to run for the 5th Middlesex seat, one stood out to me as particularly promising and that was Jason Lewis, a Winchester rep who, based on what I could tell from the Massachusetts Legislature's website, was leading sponsor on a pretty impressive slate of progressive bills ranging on everything from earned sick time and single-payer to environmental issues and animal welfare. Several weeks later, as many people were finishing up last minute Christmas shopping, or like me, getting ready to leave town for the holidays, a small group of local activists, including myself, met with Jason over a couple of hours late on a Sunday morning at a Wendy's in Malden. I think we all left feeling deeply impressed not only by Jason's commitment to progressive values; we were left with the distinct impression that this was a person with a remarkable work ethic who would work tirelessly to provide effective representation for the richly diverse communities of our district, and who had an innate talent for policy, despite being a relative outsider to Beacon Hill from the private sector.
Since the beginning of the year I've canvassed almost every single Saturday and Sunday for Jason and have rarely missed a single phone bank. And on March 4, after countless hours of hard work and hundreds of doors knocked throughout the district, we won the primary by 7%. While Fallon swept his native Malden by a pretty wide margin, Jason won the district overall by about 800 votes, about the same number of votes he garnered in Malden. I'd like to think that good old-fashioned shoe-leather campaigning, going door-to-door and talking with our neighbors about our shared progressive values, coupled with the unflagging ambition of our local volunteers, contributed in no small part to that margin.
However, our work isn't done yet. The 5th Middlesex is a conservative leaning district that was held for twenty years by Republican Richard Tisei, so victory is not a foregone conclusion. Turnout will be made even more unpredictable by simultaneous town elections in four communities in the district. I hope my fellow Progressive Massachusetts colleagues will join us for a PM GOTV canvass for Jason Lewis on Saturday, March 29, at Jason Lewis headquarters at 422 Main St in Malden. We're also going to need hundreds of volunteers on April 1 to cover a voter universe three times the size of what we were dealing with in the primary. Whether you can give an hour or two or all day, every bit makes a difference. Please sign up for March 29 or Election Day or both and help us maintain a strong progressive voice in the State House for the 5th Middlesex.
Alicia de la Garza has been involved in Progressive candidate campaigns in her native Malden for years and has been an incredible activist with Progressive Malden and Melrose since the very beginning.