Tag Archives: Working Families Party

The Principled Working Families Party Abjures Principles and Endorses Governor Cuomo: Who Should Principled Voters Support?

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.”

Diane Ravitch for Governor!! (at least for two days) – Parsing the Politics of the Working Families Party Options.

One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.” Plato

This weekend the delegates to the Working Families Party convention will be gathering near Albany to select a candidate for Governor of New York State.

The NY Daily News reported,

The Working Families Party is eying education activist Diane Ravitch as its gubernatorial candidate should the liberal minor party decide to withhold its backing of Gov. Cuomo, a source told the Daily News Wednesday morning. The party has spoken to Ravitch, 75, about possibly being its nominee and she has expressed interest, the source said. “Either way, she’ll have a role at Saturday’s (WFP) convention,” the source said.

Within a few days Diane, on her blog, clarified,

In the past two days, there has been speculation in the media that I might be a candidate for governor on behalf of the Working Families Party.

I have not sought this designation nor am I running for any political office. There are many well-qualified candidates, and I expect that WFP will choose one of them.

Regular readers of this blog know that I had major surgery on May 9 to replace a knee that I injured when I fell in April. For the balance of this summer, I look forward to walking, not running!

We are sadden, and fully understand.

The Working Families Party is a spin off from the left wing of the Democratic Party that has become a major player primarily in local politics, with the strong backing of labor, especially local 1199 (hospital and health care workers union), they have swayed policy as candidates seek their endorsement.

In New York State, to remain on the statewide ballot parties must draw 50,000 votes in the November election. The WFP has a dilemma: endorsing the incumbent governor would usually assure the WFP of reaching the threshold to keep their spot on the ballot and in the negotiations they could extract this or that promise to support this or that policy; however, their members abhor the governor.

The polling data must be disturbing to the Cuomo insiders,

A poll of state voters conducted this month by Quinnipiac University found Mr. Cuomo with the support of 57 percent of voters, compared with 28 percent who backed his Republican challenger, Rob Astorino, the Westchester County executive.

But in a hypothetical matchup with an unnamed Working Families Party candidate, Mr. Cuomo’s share of the vote shrank to 37 percent, compared with 24 percent for Mr. Astorino and 22 percent for the unnamed candidate.

Diane Ravitch on the ballot would assure the WFP of 50,000; in fact, she might have out polled the Republican candidate!!

The next in line is a law professor from Fordham, a scholar with no political experience or name recognition.

You can bet that as you read this blog the Cuomo power brokers, the WFP and their labor supporters are huddling. The two hundred or so WFP delegates are suddenly in the spotlight. To say that the Cuomo team is “arm-twisting” the WFP team is too polite a term – they are probably twisting other parts of the WFP anatomy.

Parents and teachers across the state are hopping board the “Anybody but Cuomo” bandwagon, and, for good reason.

* the 2% property tax cap has pushed hundreds of school districts to the edge of “educational bankruptcy,” the districts can no longer provide the basic services required by law.

* the Gap Elimination Adjustment (see excellent description here) is an enormous reduction in education funding that has yet to be restored – when the governor touts the increase in the current state budget he fails to acknowledge that the funding is still well below 09-10 levels.

* the Common Core debacle has angered parents from Buffalo to the East End of Long Island. Regents Cashin, Rosa, Phillips and Tilles urged the commissioner to phase in the move to the Common Core, to no avail. At the end of July the standards-setting process used the “teach to swim by pushing over the diving board” approach – and – lo and behold 2/3 of kids failed the test. As the commissioner tried to recoup on his “listening tour” the anger built, and, when under pressure from the legislature and governor the commissioner backed away and the Regents passed a dense document in an attempt to mollify parents – too late.

* the APPR, the principal-teacher evaluation plan is absurdly complicated, and apparently the outcomes have more to do with zip code than anything else, teachers fear the plan and principals find the results useless.

* the governor’s rejection of the de Blasio funding plan for Universal Pre-Kindergarten created a complex state funding formula that satisfies no one.

* the governor’s capitation to charter school dollars outraged public school advocates, parents and teachers, everywhere.

Aside from education the governor has been on the sidelines in the major initiatives of the WFP,

* the Dream Act would enable undocumented students who graduate from NYS high schools to be eligible for TAP (Tuition Assistance Program).

* the 10-point Women’s Equality Agenda legislation is perhaps the major item on the WFP platform, and is languishing in the Senate.

* public financing of elections.

The governor’s reply to criticism is to blame the Republicans in the State Senate, actually the Senate is run by a coalition of the Republicans and the Independent Democratic Caucus, a breakaway faction of Democrats that provide the swing votes to pass legislation. The governor has enormous power and influence and has flexed his muscles when he chose to flex his muscles. The Marriage Equality bill became law when the governor jumped in and garnered enough Republican votes last year.

One wonders about the team advising the governor – clearly one eye on the November gubernatorial election and one eye on positioning the governor in a possible run for the presidency in 2016, or, if a Republican wins in 2016, in 2020.

The goal for Andrew is to win with as large a majority as possible – hopefully north of 60% -a blowout, a landslide, winning in the cities, the suburbs and the rural areas, a victory so large and that it stretches across the political landscape – a victory that shows the nation that Andrew Cuomo’s appeal can become a national appeal, right of center on the economy, on fiscal issues and left of center on social issues.

His team might be right, the WFP might tell Andrew: if Women’s Equality, the Dream Act and further modifying the impact of Common Core become law we can endorse you – and – tomorrow endorse a “stand-in” pending the end of the legislative session.

The Cuomo team is skating on thin ice – the five million bucks hedge funders threw into TV to thrash de Blasio was a clear sign to Cuomo – either back us in Albany or we can do the same to you – and the governor blinked. His strategic blink deprived his opponents of millions of hedge fund dollars and antagonized parents and teachers. Did starving his opponent of charter schools dollars justify losing possible parent and teachers votes?

I have many friends who simply cannot pull the lever for Cuomo, the Republican candidate too far to the right to be an alternative. The Green Party? A WFP non-Cuomo?

Passing some liberal legislation may be enough to win over liberal voters to the Cuomo column, for others he is no longer a possibility.

I am saddened that Diane Ravitch is not running: I wanted to see the debate!!! It would have been so gratifying to watch Diane vivisect the pompous presidential candidate in waiting.

We can dream.

Maybe Diane can debate a Cuomo marionette …