Skip to comments.Labor-Backed Third Party Emerges as Statewide Force
Posted on 11/06/2004 6:07:34 PM PST by neverdem
With all the attention focused on the re-election of President Bush and the record voting for New York State's senior United States senator, Charles E. Schumer, the hidden winner of last Tuesday's election may well have been the Working Families Party, which established itself as an emerging political force statewide by getting a little-known candidate elected district attorney in Albany County.
The small grass-roots party, which has strong ties to labor, had already helped defeat an incumbent in the Assembly, elected a member of the New York City Council and pressed the State Legislature to pass an increase in the minimum wage. But before Tuesday, it had never flexed its political muscle so far outside the downstate region.
Suddenly, what seemed to be a uniquely city-centered political phenomenon emerged as a potential statewide force. Although the Nassau County executive, Thomas R. Suozzi, has talked about beating incumbents in his Fix Albany campaign, his results have been limited. But the Working Families Party has, more often than not, succeeded by backing candidates who go on to do well at the polls.
In so doing, the Working Families Party has rekindled a New York tradition of strong third parties, one that has faded with the collapse of the Liberal Party, an identity crisis within the Conservative Party and the lack of a popular leader for the Independence Party. New York is unusual among states in that it allows third parties to cross-endorse major party candidates.
"Clearly they are in the ascendancy at the moment," said E. J. McMahon, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a conservative policy group, who said the party's real test will be in how it fares during the 2006 election for governor.
The party emerged last week not only as a powerful organizing force in helping elect David Soares district attorney in Albany County, but also as a crucial second line on the ballot for candidates in close races.
State Senator Nicholas A. Spano, a Westchester County Republican seeking re-election, earned the party's endorsement for his support for raising the minimum wage, and landed about 1,500 votes on that line. The winner of Mr. Spano's race has still not been determined, but if he wins, it will mean the Working Families Party will have given him a critical advantage.
"They have connected a set of clear and understandable moral and political principles to a political machine with enormous muscle," said Assemblyman Richard L. Brodsky, a Westchester Democrat who is considering running for attorney general in 2006.
The Working Families Party was started in 1998 by a coalition of labor and community groups that were looking to advance an agenda focused on typically liberal issues, like the minimum wage and overhauling the strict Rockefeller-era drug laws. The party charges its members dues, about $5 a month.. It also gets financial support from labor and other organizations.
The group, which was built around a core that included the Communication Workers of America, the United Automobile Workers and the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, known as Acorn, agreed to be focused and disciplined in its agenda. It has, for example, largely set aside liberal social causes that might alienate some of its target working-class audience. The goal, founding members said, is to build a party that will attract blue-collar Republicans as well as liberal Democrats, along with the growing pool of independent voters.
So far the formula appears to be working. Though the Working Families Party has just 20,000 registered members, Senator Schumer drew about 150,000 votes on the party's line, a record for it. But the Democratic presidential candidate, Senator John Kerry, won only 120,000 on the party's line, suggesting, party officials said, that some or all of 30,000 voters who chose Mr. Schumer on its line also voted for President Bush.
Dan Cantor, executive director of the party, said those who vote on its line are "culturally conservative but economically populist: white working-class people who think the Democratic Party is distant from them." And, he said, "we get a lot of votes in 'of color' turf. Blacks and Latinos don't like to be taken for granted by Democrats and don't want to throw their votes to Republicans."
Political analysts said the Working Families Party stands out because it has succeeded where the Democratic and Republican Parties have largely failed in New York State, getting back to basics, relying heavily on door-to-door operations with very strong grass-roots organizing.
FReepmail me if you want on or off my New York ping list.
I voted for the taxpayers party candidate for township treasurer. She won.
More losers for a losing state.
At least they have gotten someone elected.
Have the Libertarian Party actually won a contested election anywhere?
I voted for Marilyn O'Grady. The republican party is a joke. I had no idea who Howard Mills was. Not one sign period.
A third party of Liberals would destroy any Democratic candidate 08. Hillary and Schumer have got to be smarter than this. The Liberals say that Bush is dumb, go figure.
Minimum wages, Socialized medicine, Affirmative action, Welfare and all the Liberal programs are nothing but Socialism and totally out of touch with mainstream America.
They sound more Conservative than Pataki and the Republicans in the State Senate
Howard Mills = pro-choice
I voted for Marilyn O'Grady as well.
Yep, and I voted for my mayor James Garner BUT Carolyn McCaarthy had a much better PR machine.
LOL! The Times just kills me.
In New York, it doesn't matter. New York state has several parties -- Conservative, Liberal, etc. Often a candidate will be on several "lines". They never run their own presidential candidates.
" Have the Libertarian Party actually won a contested election anywhere?"
Very very very few...and most are city/local races. This is from the Libertarian Party website:
" Libertarian Mary O'Connor was elected to the city council in Brooklyn Center, Minn., coming in second out of four candidates in a non-partisan race where the top two won.
O'Connor garnered 5,024 votes, fewer than opponent Kay Lasman's 5,655 -- but enough to defeat Tom Reynolds, who won 4,207 votes, and Charles F. Nichols Jr., who took 2,851.
* Also in Minnesota, Libertarian Mark Thorsted came in second in a five-way race to become one of two new members on the Otsego City Council. He and co-victor Jessica Stockamp defeated incumbent Jerry Struthers and two other challengers -- Tom Darkenwald and Terri Ruschmeier -- and will serve four-year terms.
* In Florida, longtime Libertarian Jim Culberson was elected in a three-way race to the commission that oversees the Sebastian Inlet Tax District, which includes parts of Brevard and Indian River counties. He garnered 36,129 votes, compared to his opponents' 35,633 and 30,605 votes.
In running for the seat -- a non-partisan race -- Culberson spent approximately $5,700, compared to a war chest of $80,000 directed against him by a local lobbyist, according to Bruce Wechsler, chairman of the Brevard County Libertarian Party."
The LP likes playing games I guess...I gathered that from this part of the Libertarian website...pathetic actually.
"While the Libertarian Party was unable to draw enough votes to affect the outcome of the presidential race -- candidate Michael Badnarik earned approximately 380,000 votes -- the party did affect several state-level races.
* A race for Oregon state representative was apparently decided by Libertarian Tom Cox's involvement. By drawing 9.5 percent of the vote, Cox drew enough support away from the incumbent -- who had reneged on a 2002 campaign promise not to raise taxes -- to cause her defeat.
Incumbent Mary Gallegos, a one-term Republican who voted for a huge tax increase last year, received 42 percent of the vote to be defeated by Democrat Chuck Riley, who drew 48 percent. With a difference of only 6 percentage points between the two, Cox's percentage clearly affected the outcome.
Cox, who ran as a true fiscal conservative, told newspaper reporters following the election that he believes he took votes from Gallegos, causing her downfall after one term in office. Gallegos promised when elected in 2002 that she would not raise taxes.
"This isn't the victory we would have loved," Cox said. "But [Gallegos] was in my crosshairs from Day One, and this is well within the range of success."
* And in Washington State, the race for governor remains undecided but Libertarian candidate Ruth Bennett apparently has taken enough votes from Democrat Christine O. Gregoire to allow Republican Dino Rossi to take the lead. Polls taken before the election hinted that Democrats were more likely to support Bennett than Republicans were.
Election officials said it could take up to a week to count the many thousands of absentee and provisional ballots that will determine the race. According to news reports, after nearly 1.9 million votes had been counted on Nov. 3, Rossi was leading by only 1,064 votes. Before the election, Bennett was polling at about 2 percent -- a deciding factor in the race.
In other races, Libertarian candidates attained sizable vote totals -- showing that there is a market for the Libertarian message -- but did not achieve the desired posts. "
Thanks for the information.
Nice to know that after the 30 years the Liberatarian party is a force to be reckoned with.
" Nice to know that after the 30 years the Liberatarian party is a force to be reckoned with."
Yep, if you're running for dog catcher or sanitation engineer commissioner, then you'd better watch out for those Libertarian candidates.
The Liberal Party line folded when it didn't get at least 50,000 votes in the last statewide election in 2002, IIRC. Ray Harding, the party's chairman, didn't want to be bothered collecting that many new, valid signatures to get a line on the ballot.
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