Kanawha Valley Democratic Socialists of America

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Kanawha Valley Democratic Socialists of America is a West Virginia affiliate of Democratic Socialists of America.


Jack Deskins worked on the Sanders campaign and joined the Democratic Socialists of America in May 2016. After the November election, he organized the Kanawha Valley Chapter, of which he is co-chair. Nine people attended the first meeting in January; the chapter now has 26 dues-paying members, and more who attend meetings. Since Sanders announced his candidacy in 2015, the DSA’s nationwide membership has doubled to more than 19,000 people. Besides Charleston, the organization has several other Appalachian chapters.[1]

Bekah Hollers is co-chair of Kanawha Valley Democratic Socialists of America.

Electoral work

While the DSA and its partners in the West Virginia Progressive Alliance are currently focused on policy and legislation in Congress and at the state level, they’re also laying the groundwork to recruit and support candidates in future elections.

“We’re doing the grind work right now” to prepare for 2018 and beyond,” said Deskins. “Number one, we’re finding candidates who are going to organize around issues that actually matter in working families’ lives things like a livable wage, like childcare, like healthcare. Number two is about voters. There are 40-50 percent, 70 percent in some counties, of people who just don’t show up for elections. We have systematic disenfranchisement of working people, and the more marginal you are, the more that’s likely to occur. It’s harder and harder for you to go vote, and it’s hard for your vote to count.”

Once candidates are recruited, they face another challenge: Winning a primary.

“Bernie Democrats” aren’t a new phenomenon in 2017 — and the ones who ran last year didn’t find great success.

Scott Crichlow, associate professor of political science at West Virginia University, suggests that Democrats might be wise to test some Sanders-style socialism, especially in smaller-scale legislative races.

“At the legislative level, where grassroots support can matter more easily, there is every reason to think that Berniecrats do well in several districts,” Crichlow said. “People usually vote retrospectively, not prospectively, and because of that the 2018 races are likely to be, in many places, a referendum on Trump. In that environment, with that kind of target, it may be a good year to put progressive candidates forward.”[2]

Regular Meeting of the Kanawha Valley DSA

Regular Meeting of the Kanawha Valley DSA Public · Hosted by Kanawha Valley DSA

Tuesday, April 18 at 7 PM - 8:30 PM EDT

1506 Kanawha Blvd W, Charleston, WV 25312, United States

The regular meeting of the Kanawha Valley Democratic Socialists of America, 7:00 PM, Tuesday, April 18, at the West Virginia State University Economic Development Center, 1506 Kanawha Blvd W, Charleston. (Please note: this is a change from the original April 20 date.)
We will be joined by Ted Boettner for a presentation entitled "Building a Shared Prosperity in West Virginia." [From the WVCBP website]: Ted is the co-founding Executive Director of the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy, He brings a wealth of experience and understanding of state fiscal issues. In addition to running the Center, Ted is the author of numerous reports on state tax and budget issues, economic development, and family economic security, including the annual “State of Working West Virginia.” Ted frequently presents policy proposals to the West Virginia Legislature and testifies before committees. He also regularly addresses statewide civic groups on state tax, budget and economic policies and is frequently quoted in news stories on those topics. In 2011, The State Journal named Ted “one of the most influential businesses leaders” in West Virginia.

Invited on Facebook



Closed members Facebook group


Kanawha Valley Democratic Socialists of America as of April 12, 2017;