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Forward Party in Pennslyvania targets more local victories

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(The Center Square) – A growing dissatisfaction with America’s two-party system might make voters more open to supporting an alternative candidate this year – something the Forward Party is banking on.

Forward’s current goals are to get candidates on the ballot in swing states like Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, North Carolina and Pennsylvania, and achieve official party status – both statewide and nationally.

The Forward Party, founded in 2021 by former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang, recruits and supports candidates who become Forward affiliates – maintaining their party registration as Democrat or Republican and pledging to govern according to the organization’s value-based platform.

Greg Snyder, Forward’s Political Director for Pennsylvania, told The Center Square they believe their first full year of major political activities was a great success. Looking ahead, their focus is to build from the ground up, and they enter the new year with enthusiasm and ambitious goals.

In 2023, Forward PA received the affiliation of two Democrats – State Sens. Tony Williams, D-Philadelphia, and Lisa Boscola, D-Bethlehem. In local races, they helped elect Stephen Zappala, a Forward Affiliated District Attorney in Allegheny County, and Seth Bluestein, a Philadelphia County Commissioner – both Republicans.

Additionally, they also elected their first candidate running under the Forward banner – independent Chris Woodward – as Lower Heidelberg Township Auditor.

Snyder said they will support a slate of candidates for state offices, to include both pure and affiliated Forwardists. They also plan to achieve minor party status under Pennsylvania election law by running a statewide candidate and securing at least two percent of the total vote in the general election.

Snyder says achieving the legal threshold with one or more candidates – a major goal of theirs – will streamline the process for gaining party recognition in 2025 and beyond. This will result in easier and more regularized ballot access for future candidates and “we’ll be able to have a formal nominating process as opposed to the informal way we now have to work under state law.”

He said they intend to continue participating in races in swing areas around the state where they believe they can have the most impact and voters are seeking alternatives.

Giving Pennsylvania voters more choice will give them “a more restored, more confident faith in the democratic process,” Snyder said.

To help people understand what Forward is about, State Political Chair Christian Fyke told us he uses the acronym “ETHIC” – which stands for building Engagement, Trust, Hope, Inspire action, and through all of that, build Community.

Fyke said while many people are politically active, many others are not comfortable diving into it at this point.

“We need to start with building engagement – inviting people back into the conversation,” he said. “Making sure the laws are reflective of that, and getting people to feel like their voice matters, their vote matters.”

“We need to learn how to have these conversations and have them respectfully – where we listen to one another, and find ways to make things better, rather than just digging our heels in. Through these changes, and through that engagement, we can build trust in the system,” he said.

Third parties are seen as spoilers – drawing votes away from one of the major parties – but Forward says it believes people deserve more choice than having to vote for “the lesser of two evils.”

Forward is not officially running a presidential candidate in 2024, instead focusing on smaller races and party building.

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