The WFP’s Gamble
From the morning memo:
Despite last-minute efforts to woo the labor-backed Working Families Party, activists within the organization appear increasingly likely to back a candidate other than Democratic incumbent Andrew Cuomo.
The move would precedent-setting for the WFP, which is composed of the state’s major labor organizations, along with rank-and-file activists.
The advocacy wing of the party appears increasingly to have lined up behind Zephyr Teachout, a Fordham Law professor who worked on digital strategy for Howard Dean’s presidential campaign.
Meanwhile, the state’s traditional labor forces such as 1199 SEIU and the Hotel Trades Council are firmly in Cuomo’s camp.
Indeed, HTC President Peter Ward was quick to blast Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino’s fundraiser with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a potential GOP presidential hopeful who is no friend of unions.
What this means for the WFP should it nominate Teachout or another candidate that amounts to a protest vote is high risk and high reward moment.
For starters, the WFP risks losing its ballot line should a Teachout candidacy fail to take hold with liberals.
After all, there is a liberal alternative already to Cuomo, Green Party gubernatorial candidate Howie Hawkins, who secured more than 50,000 votes in 2010 to gain automatic ballot access this year.
The WFP would be dealt a blow, albeit a non-fatal one, should the lefty protest vote be divided this year.
Then there are the more serious ramifications of funding.
The party is backed by a coalition of labor groups, many of which are supporting the governor.
Cuomo is not considered a forgive-and-forget politician even in victory, and purses could conceivably snap shut on the party once the dust settles.
Nothing also precludes Cuomo from — ironically, given his 2002 race — reviving the Liberal Party, a possibility raised earlier in the year, though which seems to have quietly died down as he seeks the WFP ballot line.
Then there’s the rewards, of which there are also many.
The WFP could bring to national attention the fight within the Democratic Party and the left over populist economic policies and income inequality — a potentially cleansing moment in advance of 2016.
A credible challenge to Cuomo from party would instantly make it a larger player in state and national politics beyond what it is now, buoying advocates in other states to take similar measures.
As the party faces a choice between Hillary Clinton — who hails from the wing of the party Cuomo most closely identifies with — versus Democrats like Sen. Elizabeth Warren, the WFP opposition could be a clarifying moment for liberals.
Even though Cuomo put out an ultimatum on Thursday that he would deal “accordingly” with the Senate coalition of Republicans and Democrats should they fail to approve public financing by June, WFP advocates I spoke to yesterday think this will do little to sway Saturday’s vote at the convention.
To WFP officials, Cuomo has the ultimatum backward, since he’s essentially endorsing a public financing compromise cobbled together with Senate Republicans.
The point the party is at now is that Cuomo should 1) Push hard for public financing 2) Push even harder for a full Democratic takeover of the state Senate, and do it yesterday.
They wonder why now, at a moment when he’s been painted into a political corner, Cuomo is suggesting he may blow up the coalition that has left Republicans in charge of the Senate.
There are also the practical implications of pushing to end the coalition this year as opposed to waiting until after Election Day.
Even with Democrats firmly in the majority, the votes don’t appear to be there in the Senate for public financing.
A Brooklyn Senate seat vacated by Sen. Eric Adams remains empty.
Bronx Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr. remains opposed to public financing.
Sen. Simcha Felder, a registered Democrat who conferences with the Republicans is opposed to public financing as well.
Then there are the Democrats without a conference: Sens. John Sampson and Malcolm Smith, both of whom face corruption charges.
In all, the confluence of the last 3-1/2 years of Cuomo’s deal-cutting, arm-twisting, compromising and what until now has been seen as effective navigation between the political contours in Albany will come to a head on Saturday.
|Print article||This entry was posted by Nick Reisman on May 30, 2014 at 10:15 am, and is filed under 2014. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.|