Working Families Party pushes back against Cuomo’s Wilson Pakula push

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Shortly after Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed an election law change yesterday that could upend New York’s minor political parties, the labor-backed Working Families Party pushed back.

The WFP, a left-leaning party that has cross-endorsed a number of Democratic candidates in the Legislature, took issue with Cuomo’s push to repeal the state’s Wilson Pakula law, which allows candidates to run on a party’s ballot line (with the permission of party leaders) even if they aren’t registerred with that group.

Dan Cantor, executive director of the WFP, said the state needs “more democracy, not less.”

“The Governor’s proposal to limit minor parties is a distraction from the real problem in our political system, which is the influence of big money, and that’s something only public financing of elections can fix,” Cantor said in a statement.

A public campaign financing option is something Cuomo supports. But he has taken issue with the Wilson Pakula system, which was at the center of bribery charges levied earlier this month against Sen. Malcolm Smith, D-Queens, who prosecutors have accused of trying to buy his way on the Republican line in the New York City mayor’s race.

“Eliminating the Wilson-Pakula rules won’t do anything to address the real problem in Albany, which is a system that allows big money and corporate interests to dominate decision-making,” said Bob Master, a union official who is co-chair of the WFP. “It will undermine the integrity of minor parties, which are a vital element of our state’s vigorous democracy.”

Conservative Party Chairman Michael Long has also expressed opposition to repealing Wilson Pakula.

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  1. Jackson Davies on

    What a horrible enemy of democracy, middle class families, plain old workers who are struggling, the November elections, the State budget, collective bargaining rights, and common sense this Cuomo has become!!!
    He belongs in a Twilight movie flying across the trees !

  2. It just boggles my mind from a constitutional perspective that laws can be passed – as they have been in most states over the last 100 years – that ban political parties from endorsing anyone they want. Whatever happened to the rights to Free Speech (“We endorse Smith!”) and Free Association (“With his or her approval, we nominate Jones!”)? Not to mention that hundreds of thousands of New York voters have over the years expressed their preferences and interests by voting for fusion candidates on one ballot line and not the other. For instance, why should conservatives have been forced to vote for George Pataki only on the Republican line when they were clearly sending a message to him by voting for him on the Conservative one?

    I also love how Cuomo is pushing something that will harm smaller parties in response to someone from one major party trying to get the nomination of the other major party. And how the chair of Malcolm Smith’s erstwhile colleagues in the “Independent” Democratic Caucus in the State Senate has climbed on board with Governor One Percent.