A new political party is coming to Maine.

Steve Collins

The People’s Party bills itself as “a progressive populist alternative to the corporate-funded Democratic and Republican parties” and hopes to have candidates running for office starting in 2022.

State Rep. Mike Sylvester, a Portland Democrat who serves on the People’s Party’s national advisory council, said Tuesday that the main push of the effort is to enact a Medicare For All program that will ensure every American has health care.

The new party, which plans to start enrolling members in Maine on Saturday, has its roots in U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders’ unsuccessful presidential bid in 2016 that served as a catalyst for left-wing Democrats and independents to get involved in politics.

The party needs to enroll at least 5,000 members to achieve ballot access in Maine.

“We look forward to the hard work ahead of us to grow this party for the people to succeed,” Lindsey Weeks, Maine state coordinator for the effort, said in prepared comments.

Sylvester said “a group of local folks, mostly from up north” took the initiative to push Maine as the first state where the party officially registered its existence on Dec. 1.

“It seems like they’re going to launch a pretty serious effort to create a third party,” he said.

State Rep. Mike Sylvester Maine House Democrats

Mostly, Sylvester said, they’re people who have “no place where they seem to fit in” to the existing parties.

Whether they’ll succeed in creating a serious new party, he said, depends on the work its advocates do.

“The rubber will meet the road when folks start talking to other folks” to convince them an alternative is needed.

“We’re in pretty extreme times,” Sylvester said, so it may work out well.

Sylvester said the party is concentrating on a push to convince the most progressive members of the U.S. House to force a vote on Medicare For All soon.

He serves on an advisory panel with actress Susan Sarandon, Los Angeles Chargers running back Justin Jackson, Harvard professor Cornel West and other luminaries.

“I’m sort of the local person who’s trying to do it on the ground,” Sylvester said.

Sylvester said the United States is the only wealthy nation that doesn’t have universal health care.

The pandemic, he said, has made it clear that something must be done to put a program in place that would serve every American.


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