Indys Back Wilson, Punt On AG
Two surprises out of the (very brief) state Independence Party convention at the Holiday Inn in Colonie, as per CapTon’s Kaitlyn Ross.
First: While the Indys backed Democratic AG Andrew Cuomo for governor (who stood with party leaders in Troy two weeks ago, but accepted their nod via teleconference today) and his preferred running mate, Rochester Mayor Bob Duffy, they crossed over to the GOP line to back Harry Wilson for state comptroller.
“Tom DiNapoli is a dear friend of mine; we love Tom DiNapoli, but when I met Harry Wilson, I said: This is the type of guy who should be in public office,” said Indy Chairman Frank MacKay.
“He’s fantastic. He’s suited for the job. It’s not a slight at Tom, it’s not an anti-DiNapoli vote or nomination, it’s a pro-Wilson vote”.
MacKay can say what he wants, but this is a blow to DiNapoli, who will only have two lines come November – Row A (Dems) and Row E (WFP) – to Wilson’s three (Row B, GOP; Row C, Indys and Row D, Conservatives).
It’s interesting that the Indys have done this. Although they have a history of backing Republicans in the state Senate, they generally back Dems statewide (they did do Jeanine Pirro for AG back in 2006, though…).
Note that Cuomo has yet to endorse DiNapoli and has put the comptroller under a cloud by dragging his name into the state pension fund pay-to-play investigation. Curious that the Indys have Cuomo at the top of the ticket and then declined to back DiNapoli…
Surprise No. 2: The party punted on the AG’s race, nominating one of its own – attorney Steve Lynch – over any of the five Dem contenders or GOP candidate Dan Donovan.
MacKay insisted Lynch isn’t a placeholder, but then said the party might revisit its pick at some future date after the September primary.
“In our minds, there’s no such thing as a place holder,” MacKay insisted.
“Steve realizes that he is the underdog, going up against these six big names. He’s not delusional. We’re not delusional. But he could shape the debate.”
“Somewhere in the middle of September, I’ll meet with Steve and the other party leaders and we’ll determine whether he has a shot, not at winning, but in shaping the race.”
“But then he could choose to vacate at that point. But that would be his decision. He’s our candidate, and he’ll be running a campaign.”
By going this route, the Indys avoided making a hard choice between an AG contender backed by their longtime patron, Mayor Bloomberg, who is backing Donovan; and their new standard-bearer, Cuomo, who is widely believed to prefer Democratic Nassau County DA Kathleen Rice to succeed him in the AG’s office.
MacKay also had some harsh words for another of the Democratic AG candidates, Sean Coffey, who has said he wouldn’t accept the Indy or WFP lines if they were offered to him because both the subject of investigations by different law enforcement entities. He called on his opponents to reject the lines, too.
MacKay insisted Coffey recently sought the Indy line through family members, and called the candidate’s words “silly political advice.”
“I don’t know him well enough to know why he said that…He shouldn’t go around saying things like that,” the chairman said.
“‘l’ll check the text message, and keep that private for now, but as people in his family have reached out to me. That’s just silly, absolutely silly.”
Also tapped by the Indys today were Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand. Schumer was on hand. He spoke to the Indy members, but didn’t speak to the media. Gillibrand did not attend the convention.
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