Third parties, the Conservative and Working Families Parties in New York State have substantial clout within the two major parties. Mainstream candidates frequently battle for their party designation in September primaries, and, vie for third party support in the November general election. The odd system usually pushes candidates to the right, to gain Conservative Party support or to the left to gain Working Families Party support.
The Working Families Party is funded by the mainstream unions with a membership which is loosely described as liberal or progressive or just plain left wing.
No one doubts that Andrew Cuomo will win his second term in November – his Republican opponent, Rob Astorino, the County Executive in Westchester, is both conservative, and lacking in the big time dollars necessary to run a state-wide campaign. Up to now the national Republican Party and the deep pocketed supporters – the Koch Brothers, etc., have not jumped on the Astorino band wagon.
It is not a question of Cuomo winning; it is a question of the size of the victory. Can Cuomo’s victory put him on the national landscape? Can he brand himself as a fiscally right of center/socially left of center candidate? A national candidate for 2016 and beyond?
For the past four years Cuomo has frustrated Democrats, aside from marriage equality the other major Democratic initiatives have faltered and Cuomo, for too many Democrats, looks more like a Republican.
The 2% Property Tax Cap has driven hundreds of school districts, especially low wealth districts to the edge of educational bankruptcy, i. e., the inability to provide basic required educational services. Cuomo has been silent on the enormous gap in district to district funding – New York State has one of the widest disparities in student per capita funding in the nation.
His sudden love affair with charter schools has deprived his opponent of millions of hedge fund dollars, and, to public school supporters an act of political treason.
A recent poll: Cuomo only leads his Republican opponent by 12% with an unnamed WFP candidate on the ballot garnering 22% of the vote.
Over the weekend at the WFP Nominating Convention the highly principled WFP sacrificed principles for pragmatism – they endorsed Cuomo in exchange for Cuomo promising to be a Democrat!!
The Democrats have a 32-31 majority in the Senate, apparently a majority. However, the Democrats have a strong suicidal urge. Their first majority leader, Malcolm Smith’s corruption trial starts today and his replacement, John Sampson’s trial will begin later this year. The Independent Democratic Caucus (IDC), a five member caucus led by Jeff Klein (Bronx) and Diane Savino (Staten Island), in collaboration with their Republican buds, and the quiet support of the governor, has led the dysfunctional Senate in collaboration with the Republicans. The result: not much happens.
The Dream Act, the Women’s Equity Agenda, Compassionate Care Act (Medical Marijuana) and the public financing of elections all have little chance of passage during this session.
Governors have enormous power and Cuomo is a master at passing whatever he chooses to pass. The charter school bill, that had no chance of passage in the normal process, was jammed into the massive budget bill. The Senate gridlock suits the governor just fine.
As the WFP convention approached it began to look like the delegates might thwart Cuomo, who, apparently reached out to NYC Mayor de Blasio. A few short months ago Cuomo shot down de Blasio’s targeted tax to fund pre-kindergarten classes and slammed de Blasio over charter schools.
According to the NY Daily News de Blasio brokered the deal,
De Blasio brokered a deal in which Cuomo got the nomination after publicly committing to push for a Democratic takeover of the state Senate and a host of liberal initiatives, including another hike to the state minimum wage and creation of a statewide public campaign-finance system.
The WFP presser lauds Cuomo’s commitment to a progressive agenda.
… announces a unified, unprecedented coalition to secure a Democrat-Working Families majority in the New York State Senate and deliver progressive victories on a number of key priorities in the early months of the next legislative session. The legislative commitments include a robust, statewide system of public financing of elections, funding 200 community schools, a commitment to fix the school funding formula to invest more money in high-need schools, the DREAM Act, the Women’s Equality Act, decriminalization of marijuana, and raising the minimum wage to $10.10 while indexing it to inflation and allowing localities to raise it up to 30% higher than the state minimum wage.
An aphorism of politics: when the powerful promise someone gets pregnant. The endorsement virtually guarantees that nothing of significance will transpire in Albany for the remainder of the session – the legislature adjourns on June 19th.
Next year: first, the Cuomo victory in November must be accompanied by a Democratic victory in the Senate and then the IDC has to agree to fold itself into the Democratic majority. The IDC are despised by the remainder of the Democrats in the Senate who lust for leadership roles. Two of the last three democratic Senate leaders are facing jail time and the crrent leader is virtually unknown.
Cuomo’s promise to drive a Democratic majority in the Senate next year is a long way off.
The WFP twisted arms, swallowed, and agreed that survival meant paying homage to the feudal lord, Andrew Cuomo. Only 58%of the WFP delegates endorsed Cuomo, late Saturday night the deal was done with the unions that fund the WFP. For the unions the calculations were simple, not to antagonize the lord of the manor – and probably extract some promise of something that they held dear.
For those of us in the “anybody but Cuomo” frame of mind let me introduce you to Howie Hawkins, the Green Party candidate.
Howie Hawkins said today that the decision by the Working Families Party to nominate Governor Cuomo for a second term of Governor was an abandonment of working class and progressive voters, just further proof that the WFP is merely a liberal wing on the Democrats.
Hawkins said that the door to the Green Party was open to WFP members. “We feel their pain over the Cuomo nomination. We are here for them. We give them a place to organize and vote against the Cuomo agenda and for progressive policies.”
“We invite progressive, grassroots workers and community members who are looking for a union member to support to vote for the Green Party this November. We will also be targeting communities of color who feel abused and neglected by the Cuomo administration and his austerity policies on schools, criminal justice and human services,” said Hawkins, a working Teamster from Syracuse who unloads truck at night for UPS for a living.”