Andrew Hairston is running a campaign for justice of the peace on a platform of protecting tenants and ending the school-to-prison pipeline. Recent fundraising numbers show that that message has resonance with Travis County residents. Now it’s time to bring this working-class campaign across the finish line.
By Jake J.
It’s no secret that campaign finance law in this country favors the rich. Corporate PACs and wealthy individuals have virtually free reign to cut blank checks to whatever candidate catches their eye. In a country that calls itself a democracy, it’s abominable to think millionaires and billionaires can exercise undue influence and become kingmakers for their chosen candidates.
Those laws should change. In the meantime, however, socialists have to win electoral campaigns, as tough as the terrain might be. The only way to do that is to take a grassroots approach to fundraising that prizes mass involvement and engagement above high-dollar donations. Building a campaign on small donations is difficult, but worthwhile if we aim to carry out our goal of getting more regular working-class people involved in politics and political work.
We are putting this approach to fundraising into practice here in Austin, with success. Q4 fundraising reports are in and Austin DSA-endorsed candidate Andrew Hairston raked in an impressive $17,600 compared to $10,700 by his opponent, incumbent justice of the peace Yvonne Williams. Hairston, a civil rights lawyer and democratic socialist challenging Williams in the March 1st primary, received donations from 191 donors with an average donation of $92. In stark contrast, Williams received donations from only 17 donors with a whopping average donation of $629.
These numbers become more impressive when one considers that the office in question, justice of the peace, is not exactly the most high profile despite its importance. JP races in Austin are usually uncontested and largely unnoticed. Yvonne Williams, representing Travis County Precinct 1, has been in office since 2010 and was unchallenged in the 2018 Democratic Primary. Though justice of the peace races are not as exciting as congressional or gubernatorial elections, they are important and have material consequences. Yvonne Williams used her office to throw desperate renters out of their homes in the middle of the pandemic, in clear violation of the federal eviction moratorium. Andrew Hairston would use his office to protect the rights of Austin’s renter majority and end the school-to-prison pipeline.
The Status Quo Isn’t Working—Help Us Make a Change
The large number of donations to Hairston’s campaign shows that Travis County residents feel “the status quo isn’t working”, as his campaign said in a press release. We should tap into this discontent and get more and more people involved in the project of building a powerful working-class movement in Central Texas. The recent fundraising numbers show that what we’re doing is working, now it’s time to push this campaign across the finish line. Yvonne Williams has a handful of wealthy donors, we’ve got the people.
You can help Austin DSA win that by making a donation to Andrew Hairston’s campaign or by splitting a donation between our three endorsed candidates. The best way you can help is by coming out to canvass. As an added bonus, coming out to a canvass is the only way to get one of Austin DSA’s new t-shirts until the March 1st primary, suggested donation $15-20. That money will go toward building working-class organization in Central Texas. As the old adage goes, it takes socialist cash to beat capitalist trash.
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