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Reformers Call on Queens County Democrats to Only Endorse Candidates That Pledge to Defend Reproductive and Voting Rights

A left-wing faction of the Queens County Democratic Party (QCDP) is calling on the organization to only endorse candidates that pledge to defend reproductive rights and voting rights. Congressman Gregory Meeks, the Chairman of the Executive Committee of the QCDP (L), and a pro-choice sign (Photos: U.S. Congress (L) and Gayatri Malhotra via Unsplash (R))

July 12, 2022 By Michael Dorgan (Updated)

A left-wing faction of the Queens County Democratic Party (QCDP) is calling on the organization to only endorse candidates that sign a pledge that they would defend reproductive rights and voting rights.

The New Reformers, a group of left-leaning members of the QCDP that aims to make the organization more transparent, put forward a motion at the club’s meeting Monday that would require candidates to make the pledge as a condition of being endorsed. The motion, however, was not brought up for a vote.

The pledge would commit candidates to support abortion rights legislation and legislation pertaining to reproductive healthcare and bodily autonomy. The pledge would also require candidates to support bills and initiatives aimed at securing the right to vote and expanding access to voting.

The motion was introduced at the meeting by Zachariah Boyer, a district leader and member of the New Reformers. It was also supported by New Reformers district leaders Émilia Decaudin, Nick Berkowitz, Shawna Morlock and Oscar Escobar.

The New Reformers consider reproductive rights and voting rights to be baseline issues for the party. While the reformers are generally opposed to QCDP providing endorsements, they say that if the party organization chooses to do so, then those endorsements should be contingent on candidates signing the pledge.

However, Congressman Gregory Meeks, the head of the QCDP, and other party leaders refused to put the motion to a vote, according to the New Reformers.

“Today we put forward a bare minimum pledge asking that if the county Democratic Party refuses to stay out of primary races, then the candidates whom the party endorses ought to agree to fight for rights that are under direct attack from the Republican Party as well as complacent Democrats,” Boyer said.

Meeks, according to Boyer, told the organization that he opposed the motion — arguing it could potentially turn voters off.

Boyer said that a number of district Leaders told him after the meeting that the pledge was a good idea and that they would be open to discussing and supporting it.

Nevertheless, Meeks, in a statement to the Queens Post late Tuesday, said that such a pledge was not needed.

“A pledge that restates the core values of both the national and Queens Democratic Party is simply unnecessary,” Meeks said.

“When voters go to the polls in support of candidates endorsed by the Democratic Organization of Queens, they can vote with assurance that those candidates are committed to fighting for a better city, state, and country for all.”

Meanwhile, Decaudin called on the QCDP to come out firmly in support of the issues contained in the pledge, labeling them as red line issues for the party.

“Anything less of a red line on [these] issue[s] is capitulating to right-wing forces and framing,” Decaudin said.

The entire pledge can be viewed below:

“I, [candidate], hereby commit, in the capacity of the office that I seek to hold, to support both legislation enshrining a person’s right to an abortion, reproductive healthcare, and bodily autonomy, and legislation that funds access to reproductive healthcare wherever possible.”

“I further commit to support legislation and initiatives aimed at securing the right to vote and expanding access to voting wherever possible.”

“I further commit to proactively defend our collective, fundamental rights, should they be jeopardized or come under attack, including by supporting legislation or constitutional amendments to enshrine those rights into law.”

“I commit these to my constituents, the people of the state of New York, and to the people of this country.”

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