State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Katie Meyer covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.

The State House Sound Bites Podcast is now called State of the State and is a part of PA Post, a digital-first, citizen-focused news organization to hold Pennsylvania’s government accountable to its citizens.

Pa. Democratic Socialists look to 'radicalize Rust Belt,' nudge Dems left

Written by Katie Meyer, Capitol Bureau Chief | Aug 13, 2018 10:06 PM

Jon Torsch, center, wears a t-shirt promoting democratic socialism during a gathering of the Southern Maine Democratic Socialists of America at City Hall in Portland, Maine, Monday, July 16, 2018. On the ground in dozens of states, there is new evidence that democratic socialism is taking hold as a significant force in Democratic politics. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

(Pittsburgh) -- As Pennsylvania's Democratic Socialists get ready to have some of their own in the state House next legislative session, they're also looking to broaden their coalition.

This weekend, Pittsburgh hosted around two dozen DSA chapters from in and outside of Pennsylvania, in a gathering of members called the Rust Belt Conference.

The group splashed the hashtag #RadicalizetheRustBelt across social media as DSA chapters from Harrisburg, Erie, Philadelphia, and surrounding Rust Belt states gathered in Pittsburgh.

The city is home to two of the state's four Democratic Socialist primary winners. Summer Lee and Sara Innamorato beat longtime incumbents Dom and Paul Costa, and are set to take office in January after uncontested general elections,

Two other DSA-endorsed candidates, Kristin Seal and Elizabeth Fielder, won primaries in and around Philadelphia.

Arielle Cohen, coordinating committee co-chair of the Pittsburgh DSA, said this is all a step toward shifting Harrisburg farther left.

"We know that we need to go farther than the Democrats have been willing to go in the past," she said.

Cohen said the group's ultimate goal is speaking to working class voters who feel they don't have a place in either major party.

The DSA's policy platforms include Medicaid for all, free public education from preschool to college, and strong unions.

This article has been updated to clarify Arielle Cohen's role in the Pittsburgh DSA-- she is the coordinating committee co-chair, not the chapter co-chair. 

Published in News, State House Sound Bites

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