Aparna R. - David Schwartzman Statement [Against]

Full Statement here: David Schwartzman Statement Against - Google Docs

My name’s Aparna R. I’m on our chapter’s Steering Committee, I was part of the working group for the Zachary Parker campaign, and I am currently leading our Initiative 82 work. I’m writing to urge the chapter to vote against Endorsement Resolution 1: Metro DC DSA endorsement of David Schwartzman.

First, I want to clarify that my statement against endorsing David is not related to a question of values or qualifications for office. From what I’ve seen from his questionnaire and heard from the members who have sponsored his endorsement resolution, David seems to be an ardent supporter of DSA’s values. My argument against endorsement is based more in strategy for a number of reasons:

  1. David has a low likelihood of winning. This is even noted in the resolution language, “as to a path toward victory, admittedly, it is an uphill battle.” Similarly, in his endorsement questionnaire, David indicated that he would not have a campaign independent of what DSA’s endorsement would provide (having not hired a campaign manager or set up a Political Committee yet). This causes some concern with regards to his campaign’s viability, especially given the constraints on our time and resources noted further below. Additionally, the at-large race has two seats available. One will almost certainly go to the Democratic nominee, Anita Bonds, even if she’s unpopular. The second is likely a tossup between Elissa Silverman and Kenyan McDuffie.
  2. Our chapter is already committed to another endorsed race. Chapter members are already geared up to canvass and campaign for Initiative 82, the DC ballot initiative that our chapter endorsed last December. While we have endorsed multiple races at the same time before, having two citywide campaigns this late in the cycle would be extremely difficult to allocate resources towards.
  3. Our chapter would not have much of an impact on the race. As we’ve learned from previous campaign cycles, citywide elections are extremely difficult for our chapter to make an impact on, even when canvassing starts months in advance. In this case, there are only 7 canvassing weekends (14 individual canvassing days) left until the election. In contrast, for the primary cycle when we endorsed Zachary Parker, we had twice as much time to canvass in a Ward-level race. Citywide campaigns are already difficult for canvassing to make a meaningful impact, and the limited timeline only reinforces that.
  4. I do not believe that our chapter should engage in “awareness campaigns.” I think that our chapter and its electoral process has matured past the need for campaigns where the goal is not to win, but to try to build awareness about the chapter and our values. We helped elect Councilmembers for two of DC’s eight wards. We have electeds in Montgomery County. People know who DSA is, who Metro DC DSA is, and what we stand for. Our biggest membership bumps tend to come from our wins, which help us gain credibility. I absolutely believe that it can be worthwhile to engage in races where victory isn’t guaranteed or is even unlikely, but that depends on the condition of the race. There has to be something that indicates a possibility of winning (endorsements from labor allies, a strong campaign organization, etc.) and I find that missing here.