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Forward Party brushes off Pennsylvania endorsement snub

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(The Center Square) — Despite the recent cancellation of a press conference to announce the Forward Party’s latest endorsement, officials remain optimistic about achieving their goals in Pennsylvania.

That candidate, incumbent Republican Auditor General Timothy DeFoor, backed out of the event just days before, though it’s unclear why. His office did not respond to a request for comment from The Center Square.

Forward CEO Lindsay Drath, in a May 21 press release, expressed disappointment about the reversal, but said officials “understand the skewed incentives that can lead good candidates to make a decision to operate within the confines of the legacy parties.”

Record numbers are fleeing from Democrat and Republican rosters, Drath said, however, “they continue to double down on their failed policies and approaches, rather than taking stock of themselves and responding to the will of the American people.”

“We will continue to build a new type of party that asks nothing more of its candidates and affiliates than to lead with ethics and integrity, and to be true public servants, representing the will of as many of their constituents as possible,” she said.

Additionally, Drath said Forward will work to inspire those who no longer affiliate with either legacy party to approach politics in a new and better way.

“We leave our door open to anyone who wants to join us in this challenging but necessary endeavor,” she said.

Craig Snyder, Forward’s chief political strategist for Pennsylvania, told The Center Square their two main priorities going into the election are achieving official party status and continuing to add affiliates and endorsements. Forward affiliates maintain their official party status, but pledge to govern according to the party’s core values.

Forward’s two current statewide candidates – Eric Settle, former Republican running for Attorney General, and Chris Foster, a former Democrat running for Treasurer, Snyder said, are qualified individuals who could have run in the legacy parties, but chose Forward.

He said the combination – each former members of major parties, one a millennial, and the other a “boomer,” and from different parts of the state – reflects Forward’s values and their idea of being a “big tent.”

Under Pennsylvania law, achieving 2% of the highest vote total received by any candidate in the state during the general election – presumably, the winner of the presidential race – would give Forward recognized minor political party status beginning in 2025.

Currently, their endorsed candidates are running as independents and calling themselves Forward, Snyder said.

Goal two is to continue to add candidates from both major parties.

Snyder said those candidates embody the values of the party – those who want to stake out an independent brand and attempt to “reflect the views of the majority of their voters rather than be told what do to by party bosses on either the Republican or Democratic side.”

The larger goal, he said, is to create what he calls a “pivot force” in the Pennsylvania legislature – candidates who align with Forward and are committed to breaking the hyper partisan ideological gridlock, crossing the aisle to make compromises and solve problems and engage in political reform.

Forward also advocates for open primaries. Snyder said the state’s closed primaries disenfranchises the 1.3 million voters not registered with one of the two major parties.

People feel trapped into registering with a party because it’s the only way to vote in a primary, he said. But, like other states, “you’d have a lot more than 1.3 million who would register outside the Democratic and Republican parties.”

Primaries are taxpayer funded elections, Snyder said, yet unaffiliated voters, of which a disproportionate percentage are veterans, cannot participate. “So, you have people who have fought for this country … but can’t vote elections.”

The filing deadline for independent candidates is August 1 and Forward expects to announce additional candidates by then.

The Forward Party, founded by former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang, bills itself a new political home for all voters who have been excluded by the duopoly.