WFP Touts ‘Record’ Vote Total For Gillibrand On Row D
The Working Families Party is trying to boost its clout by recognizing its top performer in the Nov. 6 elections – US Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand – who received a record 241,531 votes on the labor-backed party’s ballot line. (Row D).
That total is nearly 60,000 votes higher than the previous record of 183,672 set by Sen. Chuck Schumer in 2010 (Gillibrand, who was running to fill the remaining two years in the term of her predecessor, Hillary Clinton, received 182,624 on the WFP line that year), and approximately 80,000 over the party’s highest 2008 statewide total, which was 159,613 for President Obama.
The party proudly noted that this new high comes despite significantly lower turnout across the state caused by Hurricane Sandy.
According to the WFP, the growth came mainly in upstate, where the party was involved in a concerted effort to help the Democrats win back the state Senate. (That effort, as we now know, worked numerically, but thanks to the IDC and Senator-elect Simcha Felder, did not end up tipping the balance of power back into Democratic hands). Some 128,000 voters north of Westchester and Rockland counties cast their votes on Row D in November.
“Each vote on the Working Families Party line shows that in New York, people-power can still trump big money,” said WFP Executive Director Dan Cantor. “Across the state, our activists and volunteers made the case for our values – making sure our economy and our democracy work for everyone, not just the wealthy and well connected. These results prove that people are listening.”
The WFP says it played a key role in several upstate Democratic state Senate victories, including Senator-elect Ted O’Brien’s big win over Republican Assemblyman Sean Hanna. O’Brien won by 5,448 votes, receiving 5,047 on the WFP line. In the 41st Senate District, though the final vote count from the state Board of Elections isn’t available yet, the WFP says it’s likely its voters also provided a critical margin of victory for Democratic Senator-elect Terry Gipson over GOP Sen. Steve Saland.
The party also did a lot of GOTV work for Democrat Cecilia Tkaczyk in the 46th Senate District, bringing in more than 4,910 votes on her behalf, 2,412 of which came from Ulster County, where Tkaczyk performed the strongest.
Acting state Supreme Court Justice Gary Tomlinson ruled this week that Republican Assemblyman George Amedore had defeated Tkaczyk by 37 votes, but the Democrats plan to appeal that ruling.
The WFP says its voters also appear to have provided the margin of victory for D/WF candidates in two congressional races: NY-21, where Rep. Bill Owens defeated Republican Matt Doheny, and NY-18, where Sean Patrick Maloney ousted Republican Rep. Nan Hayworth. The final tallies in those races are not yet complete.
The WFP was founded in 1998 by the auto and communications workers’ unions and the now-defunct community group ACORN. It quickly became a dominant force in New York City politics and started branching out all across the state.
The party’s biggest state-level victory came in 2008 when the Democrats wrested control of the Senate from the GOP for the first time in more than four decades, and its officials were instrumental in helping convince then-Sen. Hiram Monserrate to return to the Democratic fold after the 2009 coup.
But the WFP ran into trouble after a very successful run in the 2009 NYC elections, where it successfully backed a number of progressive primary challengers to establishment Democratic Council candidates and also boosted NYC Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and (though to a lesser degree) NYC Comptroller John Liu in their respective citywide runs.
The US attorney launched an investigation into the WFP’s for-profit campaign arm, Data and Field Services. Though the case was eventually dropped with no charges, it was sufficiently disruptive enough to cause then-gubernatorial candidate Andrew Cuomo to think twice before agreeing to run on the party’s line (then Row E).
Cuomo eventually did agree to accept the WFP endorsement, but not before reportedly securing an agreement from its leaders that they would stay out of the millionaire’s tax debate. In the end, Cuomo received so many votes on the WFP line that the party managed to improve its ballot position, switching places with the Conservative Party, which, thanks to Carl Paladino, moved up to Row C, while the Independence Party – which also cross-endorsed Cuomo – fell to Row E.
As of this April, the WFP is again under investigation for allegations that it skirted campaign finance laws back in 2009 – this time by a special prosecutor requested by Staten Island DA Dan Donovan back in 2010 when he was a candidate for state attorney general.
Last October, the party settled a civil lawsuit filed by former Giuliani administration official Randy Mastro that alleged it unfairly assisted the campaigns of Staten Island Democratic Councilwoman Deborah Rose and other NYC Council candidates. The WFP ended up shuting down Data and Field Services and agreed to pay Mastro $100,000 to cover attorneys fees.
The WFP has been in rebuilding mode ever since.
It has a big NYC year coming up with the 2013 mayor’s race and a number of NYC Council races – not to mention the battle for the speakership once the results of the fall elections are in. But it has also been flexing its muscles at the state level and drawing attention to its successes in this past election cycle.
The most significant race for a minor party like the WFP is the contest for governor, in which whoever it endorses must win at least 50,000 votes to enable it to keep its ballot line until the next gubernatorial election. But all these small victories do help raise a party’s profile, which helps when it comes time to make cross-endorsements in statewide races.
|Print article||This entry was posted by Liz Benjamin on December 21, 2012 at 3:05 pm, and is filed under Kirsten Gillibrand, Uncategorized, Working Families Party. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.|
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