In California's June 5th primary, Juan Rey, who ran in the 29th Congressional District in the Northeast San Fernando Valley, received 744 votes, or 1.4% of the votes in this district.
It's a small vote – in fact, it was only a small proportion of the more than 4000 people who signed to put him on the ballot. In part this reflects the low vote turnout, usual in primaries. But it also reflects California's convoluted election system. All candidates run in the same single primary in June, regardless of party affiliation. Only the top two in the primary advance to the general election – this guarantees that only the two major parties are heard in November, when most people pay attention to the election.
However, Rey's campaign did succeed in its main goal: to reach out and discuss on a person-to-person level with thousands of workers about the problems that workers face, the need for workers to fight back and the need to build a working class party in order to help unite those fights and overcome so many of the divisions inside the working class. In eight weeks, from mid-December to early February, these discussions resulted in 4,082 people signing their name to a petition that allowed Rey, an independent working class candidate, to get on the ballot and present himself in the primary election. And again, in the two months preceding the primary, volunteers working on the Rey campaign discussed with thousands more workers at a community college, street festival, and at shopping malls, strip malls and on city streets in front of post offices throughout the district.
Many working people responded to the main message of the campaign. Thousands of working people in this district told Rey and the other campaigners that an independent working class party is necessary and long overdue.
The vote may have been low, but without this campaign, there would have been no working class voice heard.
Juan Rey continues at his job as a mechanic for the Los Angeles Metro, as well as his duties as an elected union steward representing the workers in his division. But at the same time, he and others, who supported his campaign, are looking for more ways and opportunities to discuss with broader layers of the working class about the need to build a working class party. The situation that workers face everywhere demands it.