Working Families Party

Nixon Emails For WFP

Cynthia Nixon in an email to supporters on Thursday urged them to back candidates for Congress running on the Working Families Party ballot line across the country as well as the state Senate in New York.

In the email, Nixon specifically points to four candidates for the House — Randy “Ironstache” Bryce in Wisconsin, Dana Balter in New York, Jess King in Pennsylvania, Jahana Hayes in Connecticut — who the WFP has endorsed.

“If we all come together, on November 6th, we can elect a wave of progressive candidates like these, end Republican control of Congress, and finally send a progressive majority to the state Senate in New York that could achieve real policy victories from codifying Roe v. Wade, to single payer health care, full funding for our schools, criminal justice reform and more,” the email states. “But these candidates can’t rely on huge corporate donors to fund their campaigns. They’re going to need grassroots supporters like you to power them to victory.”

She urged supporters to sign a petition — email address and names the party can use for list-building — ahead of general election voting.

Nixon formally dropped her bid for governor this month and was transferred by the WFP to an Assembly race; she is not actively campaigning and has endorsed the incumbent Democrat, Deborah Glick.

The WFP endorsed Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who defeated Nixon in a Democratic primary on Sept. 13.

WFP Member Would Have Supported Collins Removal From NY-27 Ballot

From the Morning Memo:

For six weeks, Republican leaders in NY-27 examined a multitude of ways to remove indicted Rep. Chris Collins from the November ballot.

All the while, local Democrats argued that any effort to replace the embattled incumbent congressman with a less problematic candidate would be a fraudulent undertaking, and promised to challenge the substitution in court.

Erie County GOP Chair Nick Langworthy said he believed the party had legal and viable options.

He accused his opposition of being hypocritical, and said they would not be raising the same red flags if and when, for example, the Working Families Party looked to remove failed Democratic primary gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon from its ballot line.

This became something of a moot point after Collins surprised Langworthy and other local Republican leaders by deciding to remain on the ballot on the advice of his legal team. However Langworthy’s hypothetical is happening now.

The Working Families Party is waiting on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s decision about whether to accept what was originally Nixon’s designation, and, in a complicated bit of Election Law maneuvering, has bumped the actress-turned-activist down to run in the Assembly district currently occupied by Manhattan Democrat Deborah Glick.

Langworthy on Twitter Wednesday, perhaps a bit tongue-in-cheek, suggested “fraud” a half a dozen times.

WFP Executive Committee member Phil Rumore, however, rejected the comparison between the Nixon and Collins situations. Most notably, the Buffalo Teachers union president pointed out, the erstwhile gubernatorial candidate isn’t facing any federal charges.

However, Rumore says he actually agreed with the idea of Collins being removed from the ballot.

“You don’t want to disenfranchise the voters in that are by having somebody that’s been indicted for a serious crime,” he explained.

Rumore admitted he thinks an alternative Republican would have made the race even more complicated for Democrat Nate McMurray, whom the Buffalo Teachers Federation has endorsed.

WFP Moves To Keep Options Open For Nixon

The Working Families Party filed paperwork Tuesday to begin the process of nominating Cynthia Nixon for a state Assembly seat in Manhattan should she drop out of the race for governor.

The move made this week by the party was described as a procedural one should the WFP endorse Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s re-election and have him run on its ballot line in November. A final and formal decision as to who the party will support for governor in the general election won’t be made until Wednesday.

The WFP filed a substitution to fill a vacancy in the 66th Assembly district in Manhattan. The nomination is not finalized and won’t take effect unless Nixon drops her bid for governor on the WFP ballot line.

The WFP last month had previously nominated its candidate for the Assembly in the district to a judgeship.

The move is designed to essentially keep the options of the WFP state committee open ahead of its meeting and is not a final decision on who it will ultimately have on its general election ballot.

“We are keeping all the options open before the state committee meets to make their decision tomorrow,” said WFP Director Bill Lipton.

Nixon lost a Democratic primary to Cuomo on Sept. 13. She had been the party’s endorsed candidate in April, when the WFP spurned Cuomo for the progressive actress and public education advocate.

Nixon is being nominated for the 66th Assembly district, where Democratic incumbent Deborah Glick is running for re-election. In a statement, Nixon said she is supporting and campaigning for Glick, regardless of where she is on the ballot in November.

“Whatever we decide in the Governor’s race, one thing is clear: in the 66th Assembly District, I’ll be campaigning for and voting for Assemblywoman Deborah Glick,” Nixon said.

Lipton added the party remains supportive of Glick’s re-election bid as well.

“We’ve enthusiastically supported Deborah Glick in the past and we’re proud to be supporting her for re-election again this year,” he said.

A Siena College poll this week found Nixon drawing 10 percent of the vote in a general election match up that includes Cuomo, Republican nominee Marc Molinaro as well as independent candidate Stephanie Miner, the Green Party’s Howie Hawkins and Libertarian candidate Larry Sharpe.

Cuomo has not given an indication as to whether he would accept the WFP’s endorsement, should he receive it.

WFP Pledges ‘Robust Debate’ Around Ballot Line

The Working Families Party plans a “robust debate” at a meeting Thursday surrounding the future of its ballot line in the race for governor, but the final decision won’t be made until next Wednesday, state Director Bill Lipton said.

The debate is a necessary one for the liberal ballot line after its endorsed candidate, Cynthia Nixon, lost her Democratic primary challenge to Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The WFP endorsed Nixon over Cuomo in April.

“The mission of the Working Families Party is to organize a grassroots political movement to end corporate control over our democracy and build a society that works for all of us — not just the wealthy and well-connected,” Lipton said in the statement this afternoon. “As we speak, the WFP officers, our standard-bearers Cynthia Nixon and Jumaane Williams, and — most importantly — more than 200 State Committee members are engaging in a robust debate around the best use of our ballot line to advance the WFP’s core mission.”

It appears that already the musical chairs, however, are underway to remove Nixon from the gubernatorial ticket.

As Zack Fink of NY1 reported this morning, the WFP earlier this week quietly nominated Douglass Seidman for a judgeship. He had been a placeholder candidate for the party in the 66th Assembly district, potentially paving the way to nominate Nixon in his place.

Nixon has not indicated whether she would continue on in the general election as the WFP candidate, but she has not campaigned since the primary on Sept. 13.

Cuomo on Wednesday with reporters also would not give any indication as to whether he would accept the ballot line, either. Cuomo already has several independent ballot lines aside from the Democratic line, including the Women’s Equality Party line and the Independence Party endorsement.

Not having an active candidate for governor could be trouble for the WFP, which needs 50,000 votes in order to retain ballot status in the next election cycle.

Working Families Party, Nixon Slam WEP Endorsement Of Cuomo

The Working Families Party and the gubernatorial campaign of Cynthia Nixon mocked the endorsement of Gov. Andrew Cuomo by the Women’s Equality Party on Friday after the ballot line formed at his urging four years ago announced it would support him once again.

“We’d like to be the first to congratulate Andrew Cuomo on winning the highly-coveted endorsement of the Women’s Equality Party, a party he founded and funded,” said Cynthia for New York Senior Strategist Rebecca Katz. “We can’t help but wonder if Cuomo will run on his so-called Women’s Equality Party line against New York’s first female Democratic nominee Cynthia Nixon in the general election.”

The party was first formed in 2014 as a vehicle in part to boost the 10-point women’s agenda, a package of measures that aimed to bolster women’s rights in the workplace and housing, as well as crack down on domestic violence and human trafficking. The entirety of the package has become law, save for a plank that would codify the Roe v. Wade decision in state law.

The WEP has been an especially sore point for the Working Families Party, which is backing Nixon this year. WFP supporters have pointed out the similarities in the two parties’ initials and have considered it a rival ballot line meant to draw votes away from them in the general election.

“Unlike Cuomo, the Working Families Party has invested in building women’s power,” said WFP Co-Chair Karen Scharff.

“WFP has a long history of recruiting progressive women and helping them win — even when the Democratic Party machine tried to block their path. Tish James, Yuh-line Niou, Diana Richardson, Nily Rozic, Zephyr Teachout, Melissa Mark Viverito and many more, got critical support from the WFP, when the Democratic Party was happy with the establishment candidates.”

In a tweet, Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi knocked WFP State Director Bill Lipton for worrying that the WEP would hurt his organization’s vote total and ballot states. Parties must have a 50,000-vote threshold to automatically qualify for ballot states.

“Translation: in it’s diminished state, #BossBill is freakin’ out about his ballot status,” he posted.

WFP To Pick Its AG Candidate On Saturday

The Working Families Party is scheduled to hold its convention on Saturday in Harlem, with plans to pick an attorney general candidate.

But who the candidate will ultimately wind up being remains up in the air as the party could select a placeholder for the post after New York City Public Advocate Tish James confirmed she would not seek the party’s line in her bid for AG.

The endorsement could also go to James’s likely Democratic rival for the party’s nomination, Zepyhr Teachout, a Fordham Law School professor who ran for governor in 2014 and a Hudson Valley House seat in 2016.

For now, party officials are not committing to either Teachout’s candidacy or the placeholder who could be swapped out for the eventual winner of the Democratic primary.

Teachout has been an ally of gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon and is serving as her campaign treasurer.

Nixon’s bid for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination against incumbent Andrew Cuomo has been buoyed last month by the WFP’s endorsement.

WFP Vetting AG Candidates

The Working Families Party on Monday announced it would begin a vetting of candidates for attorney general, with plans to make an endorsement at its state convention on Saturday in New York City.

“The WFP believes that New York needs an independent Attorney General who will be unafraid to stand up to the powerful and investigate Donald Trump and Wall Street crime, and will restore public integrity,” the party said.

A long list of candidates is vying for a legislative appointment to replace Democrat Eric Schneiderman, who resign last week amid domestic violence and abuse allegations. The WFP had earlier this month endorsed Schneiderman, but quickly rescinded that endorsement after the allegations surfaced in The New Yorker.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Sunday in a NY1 interview said he would be meeting with potential AG hopefuls as well. State lawmakers will begin a public interview process for the candidates who have submitted resumes for a legislative appointment on Tuesday.

Koppell Dings Klein, Backs His Primary Opponent

Former state Attorney General Oliver Koppell, who unsuccessfully challenged his fellow Bronx Democrat, Sen. Jeff Klein, in a 2014 primary, today is announcing his support for the woman currently trying to unseat Klein this September, Alessandra Biaggi.

In a statement obtained by CapTon, Koppell said Biaggi’s election “will send a powerful message and take us one step closer to the progressive Democratic majority we deserve—one that passes stronger rent laws, the Dream Act, real campaign finance reform, and the Reproductive Health Act to firmly protect a woman’s right to choose in New York.”

“Alessandra Biaggi will help enact the progressive agenda that Senator Klein’s IDC/Republican alliance has unconscionably blocked for the past seven years,” Koppell continued. “And she’ll bring new Democratic energy to a State Senate that needs it.”

The timing of Koppell’s announcement is ironic, given the fact that the Senate Democrats came one step closer to controlling the majority with yesterday’s win in a Westchester special election of Assemblywoman Shelley Mayer over Republican Julie Killian.

All that remains now is convincing Brooklyn Sen. Simcha Felder to reconsider his decision to remain with the Senate GOP through the end of the session – an effort Gov. Andrew Cuomo apparently has personally undertaken – and the Democrats will once again be in charge in the upper house.

But Koppell is apparently siding with the progressive wing of the Democratic Party that feels the reunification of the warring Democratic factions in the Senate, which was engineered by the governor a few weeks ago as he started to significantly feel pressure from his own primary challenger, actress and activist Cynthia Nixon, is too little, too late.

The Working Families Party is backing Biaggi and other Democrats who are challenging IDC members, and has not dropped that support in the wake of the peace deal brokered by the governor. (The party is also backing Nixon, which has led to split among its the labor and activist wings).

In his statement, which will be in wide release later today, Koppell accused Klein of empowering Republicans in New York, helping them raise millions of dollars not only to maintain control of the majority, but to further the “Trump agenda.”

According to Koppell, who is also a former NYC Council member, Klein has “betrayed the Democratic Party and hindered the realization of Democratic policies in New York State and nationally.”

Biaggi, a former counsel for Cuomo who also served as a top aide on Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, said she is “thrilled” to have Koppell’s support, adding:

“He has championed issues throughout his distinguished career in public service that will be top priorities for me — from consumer protection and tenants’ rights to environmental conservation and government reform.”

One might ask just how significant Koppell’s endorsement is in terms of his ability to move voters. As Klein and his supporters would no doubt point out, Koppell conceded the race back in 2014 as the senator was maintaining a 25-percentage point lead on primary night.

It’s also worth noting that back in 2014, Klein announced his intention to realign his then-breakaway conference, the IDC, with the so-called regular Senate Democrats, but then never followed through. Koppell maintained his primary challenge to the senator anyway, running with the endorsement of the New York Times.

Cuomo’s Self-Created WFP Problem

If I were a betting woman, and let it be known that I am generally fairly risk averse, I would right now be putting money on the likelihood that the Working Families Party’s state committee members endorse upstart Democratic gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon over incumbent Gov. Andrew Cuomo when they gather in Albany tomorrow.

The governor will no doubt respond by going on the warpath.

He has already given us a preview of his retaliation plan, which would start out with creation of yet another third party designed to weaken the WFP – this time, with a labor focus, as first reported by CapTon’s own Nick Reisman.

Recall that in the last election cycle, Cuomo created the Women’s Equality Party – or WEP – a move widely seen in part as an effort to confuse voters – after all, E comes right before F in the alphabet – and get back at the WFP for daring to even consider backing a candidate other than Cuomo…more on this in a moment.

Also, Team Cuomo and its allies are pre-emptively accusing the WFP of dividing the labor movement in a manner that will only benefit Republicans in the fall elections.

Ironically, that is just what the WFP has been accusing Cuomo of all these years – enabling, if not quietly encouraging, the split among the state Senate Democrats, even when he promised to remedy the situation, (more on that in a moment, too), helping the GOP maintain control of the chamber and bottling up all manner of progressive policy proposals.

Behind closed doors, Cuomo will probably go quite a bit further, perhaps even threatening the WFP with extinction – most likely via financial starvation.

He could perhaps try to scuttle fusion voting in New York, though that would hurt other minor parties, like the Cuomo-loyal Independence Party, and also is something he has tried before but never followed through on. Or, he might pressure the unions that are still with the WFP – most notably CWA and SEIU 32BJ – to abandon ship, following the lead of a number of others, like HTC and SEIU 1199, who did just that a few years ago at the governor’s urging.

The reality is, however, that no matter how angry Cuomo might be with the WFP for turning its back on him this time around, he really has no one but himself to blame. We would not be at this juncture, with this configuration of WFP committee members, had it not been for string of what now clearly were ill-advised actions by the governor himself.

The governor got what he wanted out of the WFP in 2014, thanks to a significant lift by his frenemy, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, a longtime ally of the party and organized labor in general.

And then he didn’t bother to even pretend to try to fulfill the main promise that he made to WFP members in exchange for their begrudging willingness to back him and jettison Teachout, whom the wooed into the race to begin with, declining to force the warring state Senate Democrats to reunify. (More on this in a moment).

To “thank” the party for upholding its end of the endorsement bargain, Cuomo punished it, convincing that handful of big unions to end their relationship with the WFP, withdrawing financial support in the process.

And in so doing, because he was so focused on getting revenge in the short term and not on the long game, Cuomo unwittingly empowered the individuals and organizations that remained in the WFP, giving a far greater voice – and voting power – to its activist wing.

Those activist WFP members moved to fill committee seats left vacant when the unions departed. And they have not been satisfied by the governor’s slow yet steady move to the left since the 2014 election, including his recent forging of a peace deal among the Senate Democrats – which seemed to come together pretty darn quickly once Nixon arrived on the scene – saying it’s too little, too late.

In fact, the WFP is continuing to back the candidates who are challenging the IDC members in the September primaries despite the peace deal, and it’s a safe bet that if the party leadership tried to rescind that support now, they would have a rank-and-file revolt on their hands.

It’s possible the WFP could endorse Nixon but not give her its ballot line, putting a placeholder candidate there instead – just in case there’s a post-primary peace deal between the governor and the party that requires her to go away quietly before the November general, though, as Nick reported yesterday, there are ways of getting her name off the ballot if necessary, too.

It’s hard to see how the WFP true believers would be satisfied by any half measures the party seeks in order to preserve some semblance of a relationship with the governor, though.

It will also be interesting to see how UFT members react to the pro-Cuomo comments by their president, Mike Mulgrew, a longtime ally of the governor, though the two sometimes disagree publicly on education policy.

Given the pending decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in the Janus case, no union leader can really afford to alienate his or her members at this point in time. There are plenty of teachers who are big backers of AQE, which, of course, is the foundation of Nixon’s early support, though she has been branching out with other progressive groups of late.

NOTE: A reader points out that the Legislature and Cuomo already moved to undercut the Janus ruling, should it be decided against the unions’ favor. There will likely be a legal battle over that effort if the Supreme Court does indeed go in that director.

WFP Has A New National Director

The Working Families Party on Monday announced Maurice Mitchell would become its next national director.

Mitchell, a Long Island-born community organizer and strategist, is taking the post from Dan Cantor, who is now chairman of the party’s national committee.

“Maurice has spent twenty years working as a community organizer, electoral operative and social movement strategist. Most recently, he led Blackbird, an anchor organization within the Movement for Black Lives — which has transformed the consciousness of the nation,” Cantor wrote in an email to supporters.

“In that role, Maurice helped to expand the limits of the possible in America. That’s exactly what we hope he’ll do at the WFP. Maurice grew up in Long Beach, on the South Shore of Long Island, NY, the son of Caribbean immigrants. His mother was a nurse and his father an electrician — both union members. He’s been part of the extended WFP family for years, working closely with the New York party on Long Island elections beginning more than a decade ago.”

The change comes as the WFP is seeking to expand its reach in states beyond New York. At home, the party is mulling its gubernatorial endorsement, a choice at the moment that is between incumbent Democrat Andrew Cuomo and his primary challenger, actress and advocate Cynthia Nixon.

Cantor pointed to the impact of President Donald Trump and the need to organize the left as a result.

“He’s coming aboard at a moment of immense importance,” he said. “I don’t need to tell you the kind of threat the nation faces. We have never more urgently needed a political movement rooted in justice and dignity for all working families, and that champions a true democracy.”