The Working Families Party, whose energy and resourcefulness kept it from losing its ballot line last year under an upgraded voting requirement some supporters charged was an attempt by Governor Cuomo to wipe it out, may be largely shut out of this November's city races by two glaring technicalities.
Unless the party can get a court ruling forcing the city Board of Elections to reconsider its position, the WFP, after supporting numerous winning candidates in the recent Democratic primaries, led by the party's nominee for City Comptroller, Brad Lander, won't have nearly two dozen of them on its line in the November general election.
Brannan Did It Himself
The one exception is Brooklyn City Council Member Justin Brannan, who collected and handed in his own petition signatures and avoided the error made by the party, which submitted electronic signatures to the Board of Elections but didn't provide the written originals.
As a result, in April, the Board of Elections removed those candidates from the party's line. The WFP challenged that action in court, but had the case thrown out because it failed to properly serve the board with its complaint.
It is now asking the city board to reverse itself based on an upstate ruling in State Supreme Court that restored 15 candidates to the ballot in several counties where the WFP only filed the signatures electronically. NY1 reported that the elections board responded that the ruling affecting upstate races can't supersede a local court.
Sharon Cromwell, the party's deputy director, told NY1 July 13, "As it stands right now, most New York City voters are not going to be able to see a Working Families Party candidate on their ballot line, which is such a shame."
Won't Affect '22 Ballot
The snafu has no impact on the party's ballot line for next year, which it preserved with an unexpectedly strong turnout in last year's presidential election after a state commission appointed by Governor Cuomo significantly raised the number of votes a party must get on its line for Governor to maintain its spot on the ballot, from 50,000 to 130,000.
Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, who has benefited over the years from the party's support, in the fall of 2019 accused Mr. Cuomo—with whom he has frequently clashed—of engineering the large bump in the required vote to cripple the WFP in the future. Prior to the presidential vote, he formed an unlikely alliance with U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer—who until then had rarely bucked Mr. Cuomo but subsequently called for him to resign over numerous claims of sexual harassment by past and present female aides—urging New York voters to use the WFP line when casting their ballots for Joe Biden last November.
The drive worked well enough that the WFP got more than 283,000 votes, assuring it of a spot on the ballot next year, when the Governor plans to seek a fourth term.
Mr. Cuomo and the WFP have had a fractious relationship going back to the 2014 election, when he was seeking a second term. Angered by policies it believed were anti-worker, the party, which has since lost much of its union support, reportedly because of pressure by the Governor—who at one point advised unions that continued to support it financially to "lose my number"—initially planned to give its ballot line to Fordham University Law Professor Zephyr Teachout.
Mayor Helped Turn Them
But with some coaxing by Mayor de Blasio, whose relationship with Mr. Cuomo had not yet soured completely, the WFP changed course that May and gave him its ballot line, conditioned on his pledge that he would help fellow Democrats regain a majority in the State Senate that November.
The Governor not only failed to live up to his end of the bargain, he joked about it after results that allowed Republicans to maintain control of the Senate under an alliance with the eight-member Independent Democratic Conference and that of one Brooklyn Senator, Simcha Felder, who from the time he took office had caucused with the GOP.
Stung by suffering insult on top of injury, the WFP opposed Mr. Cuomo again in 2018, supporting actress Cynthia Nixon in the Democratic primary against him, but he easily defeated her, and she opted not to continue campaigning. To salvage its ballot line, the party had to offer it to the Governor, and he again gained re-election against an underfinanced Republican opponent.
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