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Forward party sets sights on Pennsylvania

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(The Center Square) – A new political party wants to bridge the partisan divide and give voters more sway over the election process.

Pennsylvania is one of twelve “battleground states” the Forward Party has set its sights on, where they plan to field candidates, work to grow a grassroots movement, and hope to obtain legal party status.

Two Democratic state senators have recently signed on to work with them: Sens. Tony Williams, D-Philadelphia, and Lisa Boscola, D-Bethlehem.

The Forward Party, also known as Forward, formed in 2021 by former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang, bills themselves as centrist and says they have “roadmaps for achieving legal party recognition and recruiting credible candidates in many states.”

At a recent press conference in Harrisburg, Williams and Boscola joined Yang at the podium where they pledged to work for “shared-ground solutions to the largest problems facing their communities.”

Forward affiliates are elected officials who retain their party registration as Democrat or Republican, but publicly join with Forward – pledging to govern according to their value-based platform.

Forward’s website says they “stand for doing, not dividing,” and they “reject the far Left and Right” while pursing common ground. Their platform is based around changes to the political process which includes ranked choice voting, nonpartisan primaries, and independent redistricting commissions.

Yang said Pennsylvania is representative of politics today and people want “something different, something better,” adding “there are leaders within the state government who are living it themselves.”

“The people I represent don’t care about politics,” Williams said. “They’re just trying to heat their homes. We’re not different teams, we’re all Americans and we’re supposed to represent the people that send us here.”

“I’ve been serving the people of Pennsylvania for decades,” Boscola said. “They just want us to work together and get things done. I’ve been the same person, but politics have become more and more divisive, and we need real leaders to turn it around.”

She added that many of the people she represents “aren’t so much political, they’re Independents.”

Boscola has introduced bills that would allow Independents to vote in primary elections. In a recent statement, she said there are 1.2 million voters in Pennsylvania – more than 14% – who are not affiliated with the Democratic or Republican Party.

She said many people she speaks with are frustrated by the gridlock in Harrisburg and Washington, which motivates them to switch their registration to Independent, but they ultimately opt against it because it excludes them from participating in primaries.

As recently reported by The Center Square, Pennsylvania is one of ten states without open primaries and there are several proposals in the House attempting to change that.

Forward says while the 2024 presidential election is “immensely important to our nation’s future,” they have no plans to run a candidate.

They are instead focusing on what they say are over 500,000 elected positions in the U.S. – such as mayors, council members, and school boards – most of which are uncontested.

“We are succeeding in identifying a coalition of both voters and officeholders who want to end the hostility and hate toward people of another party or tribe and come together,” Yang said. “Being American or a good person doesn’t reside in one party or another. Let’s make it safe for our leaders to make this case.”

Ranked choice voting is implemented in federal and/or state-level elections in two states – Alaska and Maine. Hawaii uses it in certain elections, and twelve other states contain jurisdictions in which the system has been implemented at the local level.

Legislation currently being drafted in the House of Representatives would bring ranked choice voting to Pennsylvania.

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