New Party (United States)

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New Party
Headquarters88 Third Ave., Suite 313
Brooklyn, NY

The New Party was a third political party in the United States that tried to re-introduce the practice of electoral fusion. In electoral fusion, the same candidate receives nomination from more than one political party and occupies more than one ballot line. Fusion was once common in the United States but is now commonly practiced only in New York State, although it is allowed by law in seven other states. The party was active from 1992 to 1998. (There had been an earlier, unrelated New Party in 1968 that ran Eugene McCarthy for President.)


The New Party was founded in the early 1990s by Daniel Cantor, a former staffer for Jesse Jackson's 1988 presidential campaign, and by political science, sociology and law professor Joel Rogers as an effort to break with the largely unsuccessful history of progressive third parties in the United States. Their strategy was to run candidates only where they had a reasonable chance of winning, and to nominate on their ballot line (or where this was not legally possible, to endorse) the candidate they favored more from another party.[4]

After a false start in New York, the New Party built modestly successful chapters in several states. Some of these chapters—such as those in Chicago and Little Rock, Arkansas—had their main bases of support in the low-income community organizing group ACORN, along with some support from various labor unions. Other chapters—such as those in Minneapolis; Missoula, Montana; Montgomery County, Maryland; and Dane County, Wisconsin, received institutional support from a variety of other labor unions and community organizations. These chapters built local political organizations that ran or endorsed candidates, primarily in local non-partisan races but with occasional forays into Democratic Party primaries or (more rarely) traditional third party-style independent candidacies as well. Some New Party chapters introduced the idea of signed candidate contracts (saying the candidate agreed with the party's principles and would meet with party members after election) before endorsement, to encourage accountability after election—this was criticized by some of the party's detractors.[5][6][7] Party chapters were also active between elections, pressuring elected officials to pass legislation on issues such as living wages and affordable housing.


In Madison, Wisconsin and some other cities, the New Party partnered with Green Party candidates.[8]

The New Party endorsed Barack Obama in his successful 1996 run for the Illinois Senate.[9][10]

Although the party's founders hoped to foster a shift in the United States toward electoral fusion, they were not successful in doing so. Their hopes rested largely on the U.S. Supreme Court case Timmons v. Twin Cities Area New Party. In 1997, the Court, in a 6–3 decision, upheld the Minnesota ban on cross-endorsing candidates, rejecting the New Party's argument that electoral fusion was a right protected by the First Amendment's freedom of association clause.[11][12]

After the Timmons case, the New Party quickly declined and several chapters disaffiliated. Perhaps the only and certainly the most successful surviving local chapter, known as Progressive Dane, remains active and relevant in Dane County, Wisconsin. New Party founder Daniel Cantor and other key staff members left to found the Working Families Party of New York (1998),[12] an organization which has had considerable success in building a New Party-style organization within New York state, and which now has expanded into other states that have fusion voting.


  1. ^ Reynolds, David (2000). "New Party". In Ness, Immanuel; Ciment, James (eds.). The encyclopedia of third parties in America, Vol. 2. Armonk, N.Y: Sharpe Reference. pp. 396–402. ISBN 0-7656-8020-3. p. 396: From its beginning, the New Party articulated a distinct brand of progressive third-party politics.
  2. ^ Haber (2001), p. 120: The New Party is a progressive electoral option—a challenge to the two-party system that has dominated electoral politics in the United States.
  3. ^ Sifry (2002), p. 230: For convenience, and because they believed it was important that the party seem "fresh, simple, and above all, not weighted down with ideological baggage and labels," they proposed to call their new experiment the "New Party." Their intended audience were progressives, defined as "people who are committed to democracy" as opposed to liberals, who they wrote "don't believe working people have much capacity to govern their own affairs.27
  4. ^ Rogers, Joel (October 4, 1993). "Viewpoint: Is it third party time?" (PDF). In These Times. 17 (23): 28–29. ISSN 0160-5992. Retrieved May 25, 2011.
  5. ^ Haber (2001), p. 127: Our preferred candidates subsequently were notified and asked if they were willing to sign an agreement that said nothing more than that they agreed with our party principles and mission statement and that they would meet with us on a regular basis once in office to exchange information and work collaboratively to implement these ideals. While most of those we interviewed found nothing wrong with this process, and in fact understood and supported its importance, our detractors found it cause to complain loudly.
  6. ^ New Party (April 1994). "Progress report #5 -- On the move with the New Party". Brooklyn, N.Y.: New Party. Archived from the original on July 9, 1997. Retrieved October 16, 2008.
  7. ^ New Party of Illinois (199?). "The New Party of Illinois candidate contract". Chicago: New Party of Illinois. Archived from the original on October 23, 1999. Retrieved October 16, 2008. {{cite web}}: Check date values in: |year= (help)
  8. ^ Nichols, John (July 10, 2000). "Three's company". In These Times. 24 (16): 4–5. ISSN 0160-5992. Retrieved May 25, 2011.
  9. ^ New Party (March 1996). "March update". Brooklyn, N.Y.: New Party. Archived from the original on July 9, 1997. Retrieved July 8, 2012.
  10. ^ Nichols, John (January 2009). "How to push Obama". The Progressive. 73 (1): 20–23. ISSN 0033-0736. Retrieved July 8, 2012.
  11. ^ Legal Information Institute (1997). "Timmons v. Twin Cities Area New Party (95-1608), 520 U.S. 351 (1997)". Ithaca, N.Y.: Legal Information Institute, Cornell Law School. Retrieved October 8, 2008.
  12. ^ a b Ireland, Doug (March 18, 2002). "Party animals (book review of Spoiling for a Fight: Third-Party Politics in America by Micah L. Sifry)" (PDF). In These Times. 26 (8): 22–23. ISSN 0160-5992. Retrieved May 25, 2011.


  • Haber, Paul (2001). "Party time? Building a progressive electoral movement: a case for the New Party". In Bystydzienski, Jill M.; Schacht, Steven P. (eds.). Forging radical alliances across difference: coalition politics for the new millennium. Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 120–132. ISBN 0-7425-1058-1.
  • Sifry, Micah L. (2002). "A safe way out of the box?". Spoiling for a fight: third-party politics in America. New York: Routledge. pp. 223–257. ISBN 0-415-93143-6.

External links[edit]

  • New Party (1999). "New Party documents". Brooklyn, N.Y.: New Party. Archived from the original on January 17, 2001. Retrieved October 13, 2008. press coverage archived on the New Party's website