The Bread and Roses Party, a socialist party that was officially recognized by the State of Maryland for the 2020 election cycle, has disbanded.
The party founder, Jerome M. Segal, an author, college lecturer and activist, says he plans to run for governor as a Democrat in 2022.
Segal set the wheels in motion to create the Bread and Roses Party in 2018, after unsuccessfully challenging U.S. Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin in the Democratic primary. But he said the Bread and Roses state committee, which he chaired, decided to fold the party because the political environment has changed so rapidly.
Specifically, Segal cited the difficulty of establishing third parties in the U.S. and the Republican Party’s lurch toward extremism and anti-democratic views. Additionally, Segal said, the Democratic Party has evolved.
“Today it embraces policies that were unrealistic not long ago, such as paid family leave, free pre-K for all children, capping day care expenses at 7% of household income, and moving to reasonable health care for all,” he said. “So…the range of what can be pursued within the Democratic Party is much wider than ever before.”
Even though he will run for governor as a Democrat, Segal said he hopes to bring the philosophy of “Bread and Roses socialism” to the primary campaign.
“America today is wandering aimlessly, and with limited horizons,” he said. “The pandemic brought home to tens of millions of Americans that there is something fundamentally wrong in how we are living our lives. Yet no compelling alternative vision has emerged. It is not a matter of this problem and that problem. We need to address the most basic questions of how we individually and collectively deal the fundamentals of work, time and money.”
Segal becomes the ninth candidate seeking the Democratic nomination in the June 2022 primary.
As of a month ago, there were 1,144 registered members of the Bread and Roses Party — making it the sixth largest officially recognized party in Maryland, behind the Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, Greens and Working Class Party. Twelve new party members signed up last month, according to the Maryland State Board of Elections. Segal said state election officials have told him that the party members will be informed that the party no longer exists and that they will have to register with another party or become an unaffiliated voter.
Segal finished third in the 2018 U.S. Senate Democratic primary, racking up 20,077 votes, good for 3.4%. He spent a significant part of that campaign criticizing Cardin for his stances on the Middle East.
After that, Segal worked to set up the Bread and Roses Party and sought to appear on the 2018 general election ballot as a Senate candidate but was rebuffed (Maryland law forbids losing primary candidates from also running in the general election). In 2020, as the Bread and Roses presidential nominee, Segal received 5,884 votes in Maryland, or 0.2%.
“I continue to believe in third parties, and if we had rank-choice voting, third parties could play a major role in both building and revealing public support for major alternative visions for our society,” Segal said. “But without rank-choice voting, third party efforts in the present political context may no longer be viable.”