Whither Frank MacKay?
Since Gov. Andrew Cuomo included a call to do away with the Wilson-Pakula law in his second Smith-Stevenson corruption scandal reform proposal, we have heard outraged reactions from all but one of the state’s top minor party leaders.
State Conservative Party Chairman Mike Long was first out of the box with an accusation that Cuomo was looking for an “easy way out” in response to the most recent corruption wave to rock the Capitol.
He also promised “an awful lot of people are going to get hurt in the process” if legislative leaders go along with the governor’s idea of scrapping third party officials’ power to hand-pick who runs on their ballot lines – a pledge that no doubt sent shivers up the spines of not a few Senate Republicans.
Next up: The Working Families Party, which deemed Cuomo’s call for a primary free-for-all on minor party lines “a recipe for chaos,” and insisted that campaign finance reform – not ending Wilson-Pakula – is the best remedy for ending public corruption.
Green Party leaders split somewhat from their minor party colleagues, saying they would like to see an end to so-called fusion voting (which, by the way, the governor has so far NOT proposed), insisting that third parties should end their habit of cross-endorsing major party candidates in order to maintain their autonomy and remain ideologically pure.
But they didn’t love the idea of losing control over who gets to run on their ballot line, which they – through gubernatorial candidate Howie Hawkins – worked so hard to secure in the 2010 campaign.
That leaves state Independence Party Chairman Frank MacKay as the odd man out. As far as I can tell, MacKay hasn’t uttered a single word about Cuomo’s reform proposal – and he hasn’t returned my calls seeking comment, either.
The New York City Independence Party, which has long been at war with its statewide counterpart, issued a lengthy reform proposal of its own earlier this week.
“The current political scandals expose structural weaknesses in the system that need to be addressed, but not in ways that entrench the powerful and preclude a more nonpartisan process,” the party’s release declared.
The NYC Indys renewed their long-time proposal for nonpartisan elections – an idea Mayor Bloomberg has tried unsuccessfully to push in the Big Apple, spending $7 million of his own money in the process. They expressed sympathy for the WFP and Conservative Party’s argument against doing away with Wilson-Pakula, but also said they would support rescinding it for major party primaries, reasoning:
“A minor party candidate could not overwhelm a major party, while the reverse would be the likely outcome if minor parties lost their right to issue Wilson-Pakulas.”
Also on the NYC Indy Party reform to-do list: Initiative and referendum, term limits for legislators, letting voters change their enrollment after a one-month waiting period, nonpartisan administration of the Board of Elections, nonpartisan redistricting and campaign finance reform.
And yet, nothing from MacKay.
The state Independence Party is a strange animal, established in 1994 thanks to the quixotic and self-funded gubernatorial run of Paychex founder Tom Golisano.
It has had its share of scandals – particularly in New York City – and has lost considerable clout in recent years, dropping two lines down the ballot in the 2010 election from Row C (now held by the Conservatives) to Row E (once held by the Working Families Party).
Since Golisano ended his three-race losing streak, the Indys have increasingly relied on fusion voting to stay alive and relevant. In 2010, the Independence Party cross endorsed Cuomo in the governor’s race, which is the race that determines whether or not a minor party gets to keep its automatic ballot status for another four years.
That year, MacKay was so anxious to endorse Cuomo that he awarded the gubernatorial candidate his party’s nod even before the Democrats had officially nominated the then-state attorney general at its convention in Rye.
“We’re getting out ahead and letting all the other candidates know we are with Andrew Cuomo,” MacKay said at the time.
“…I think Andrew Cuomo is a proven statesman. I think he’s the one man out there – the one person out there – that can handle the issues and the challenges and he certainly has the experience.”
“I believe strongly that he’ll be the next governor, and we’re proud to hold his coat on the way to the governor’s mansion.”
Cuomo was more than willing to accept the endorsement, even though the Indys were embroiled at the time in a mess thanks to the indictment of GOP consultant John Haggerty by the Manhattan district attorney for stealing some $1 million of Bloomberg’s money given to the party to pay for an Election Day poll watching operation that never materialized.
Conversely, Cuomo had held off accepting the WFP’s endorsement due to the fact that it was under investigation by the US attorney’s office in connection with work done by its now-defunct for-profit arm, Data & Field Services, in the 2009 election cycle. (Cuomo eventually did accept the party’s nod after it agreed to sign off on his New New York Agenda, which was not popular with some labor unions).
But Cuomo isn’t the state Independence Party’s only political ally. It has long been closely tied to the Senate Republicans, cross-endorsing their candidates and (more recently) employing one of their top officers.
Of course, the Senate Republicans don’t at all like the idea that they might lose access to any minor party line that might help them retain seats in the increasingly Democrat-dominated state.
So that puts MacKay in something of a bind, doesn’t it? Maybe that’s why he hasn’t said anything about Cuomo’s Wilson-Pakula proposal yet.
|Print article||This entry was posted by Liz Benjamin on April 25, 2013 at 1:48 pm, and is filed under Andrew Cuomo, Independence Party, Uncategorized, Working Families Party. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.|