The First Forward Party Mayor
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Mayor Jordan Marlowe of Newberry, Florida is the first sitting Forward Party official in the United States. Union ForwardRead More
One year and seven months after Andrew Yang bid farewell to the Democratic Party and announced his plan to establish a third political party, Forwardists in Florida are celebrating a momentous milestone.
Mayor Jordan Marlowe of Newberry, Florida announced this week that he changed his party affiliation from Libertarian to Forward, earning the distinction of being the first sitting Forwardist official in the country. His announcement came just one month after the Florida Forward Party gained official party status.
Inspired by the vision of party co-chairs Andrew Yang, former New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman, and CEO of Penthera Partners Michael Willner, the Forward Party aims to bring cross-ideological problem-solving back into American politics.
As a former Libertarian, Mayor Marlowe is no stranger to the trials and tribulations that come with working outside the traditional two-party system. Having already navigated these challenges, Marlowe’s move to the Forward Party signals his confidence in its plan to bring about meaningful change. He hopes that Americans will follow him in his leap of faith:
“I believe that the country is ready for a third party that makes sense, that wants to be positive, that wants to build bridges and partnerships … We just all have to take that leap of faith and register and show with our numbers that we are ready for this third party.”
Marlowe admitted that he had grown frustrated with a sense that the Libertarian Party wanted him to “stand against everything and get nothing done.”
Now, the mayor is confident that he has found a political home. Like many Forwardists, Marlowe intends to focus on delivering tangible local solutions.
During his six-year tenure, the mayor has sought to concentrate on policy initiatives where residents can find common ground. He succeeded in bringing the first ambulance to the city in 2018, a vital service that could have easily been ignored in today’s gridlocked, partisan environment. He also facilitated the construction of a new town fairground to be used by 4-H and Future Farmers of America, two youth development organizations.
After months of Forward Party leaders emphasizing the importance of developing strong community roots before diving into national politics, it seems fitting for the first sitting Forwardist official to be the mayor of a town with just 7,342 residents.
In addition to Mayor Marlowe’s switch, the Forward Party reached a significant milestone in Stonington, Connecticut the day before his announcement. Shaun Mastroianni, the first-ever local Forward Party candidate to appear on a ballot, ran for the position of warden in a borough of Stonington. With only a Democratic opponent in the race, he fell short by just 11 votes out of a turnout of 363.
Mastroianni served as Stonington’s Republican Town Committee Chairman prior to running for warden as a Forwardist, and in 2021 he led Republicans to endorse the town’s unaffiliated first selectwoman, Danielle Chesebrough.
By earning at least 1 percent of the vote, Mastroianni secured the Forward Party ballot access for the office of warden in the next election cycle. Minor parties, however, can only nominate candidates for offices which they have already petitioned for a ballot line and earned at least 1 percent of the vote. Forwardists can only gain permanent statewide ballot access by reaching major party status, which requires either registering 20 percent of Connecticut voters with the Forward Party or earning 20 percent of the vote in a gubernatorial election.
Toby Proctor, a former naval officer and one of the Forward Party’s state leaders in Connecticut, described the steep requirements residents face in earning legal recognition for a new party as a microcosm of the Democratic and Republican parties’ entrenchment of their power within the political system.
Nonetheless, Mastroianni’s candidacy and Marlowe’s switch have lent credibility and momentum to the new party. Moreover, the two milestones come on the heels of four Arizona House Democrats announcing themselves as “Forward Democrats.” The four state representatives—Alma Hernandez, Consuelo Hernandez, Lydia Hernandez and Keith Seaman—will support the Forward Party’s goals while remaining registered Democrats.
The Forward Party has now gained some level of legal party recognition in seven states since its founding just a year and a half ago: California, Connecticut, Florida, Maine, Nevada, North Carolina, and Texas.
American voters will not need to be convinced that the two-party system is not working; 49 percent are unaffiliated with either major party, 62 percent agree that a third party is needed, and 80 percent are dissatisfied with the country’s direction. The job of Forwardists will be to advance a credible blueprint for introducing a multi-party system.
As showcased in Arizona, the party invites members of other parties to identify as Forward Democrats, Forward Republicans, or any minor party in the hopes of building a true cross-partisan coalition in support of a multi-party system.
While Mayor Jordan Marlowe’s announcement alone may not change the political landscape of the U.S., it does signal that the Forward Party is building upon a series of early milestones. Supporters hope that these successful models of cross-ideological cooperation will, in due time, translate into a legitimate alternative to the dysfunction that dominates Washington, D.C. today.
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