Working Families Party endorses Nixon over Cuomo

 In Politics

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“The last eight years under Andrew Cuomo have been an exercise in living with disappointment and dysfunction and dishonesty,” actress Cynthia Nixon said accepting the Working Families Party’s endorsement. | Jimmy Vielkind/POLITICO

Updated


ALBANY — The Working Families Party endorsed actor Cynthia Nixon over two-term Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Saturday, fueling Nixon’s left-flank challenge and deepening a split among New York Democrats.

“You are the heart and soul of the progressive New York that we want to create,” Nixon said. “The last eight years under Andrew Cuomo have been an exercise in living with disappointment and dysfunction and dishonesty.”

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Nixon has promised to legalize and tax marijuana, end cash bail, push for single-payer health care and increase funding to public schools — raising taxes if necessary. Cuomo has said he has a record of progressive achievement and is an effective leader in the fight against President Donald Trump.

The WFP endorsement all but guarantees a formal nomination — which will come at a convention in May — and assures the “Sex and the City” star a spot on the November ballot, even if she fails to dislodge Cuomo in September’s Democratic primary.

Beyond the election-year politics, this weekend’s dramatic events at a pair of Albany-area hotels showed how the state Democratic Party’s schism is playing out.

Nixon snubbed Democratic party activists who gathered for the annual Democratic Rural Conference beginning on Friday. Cuomo addressed them in private.

She instead pitched the New York Progressive Action Network — an affiliate of Our Revolution, which grew out of Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign — and was greeted with praise and cheers on Saturday shortly before 4 p.m. when she arrived in a basement ballroom opposite the hotel pool where the WFP had gathered.

“We have a lot of work in front of us, but one thing is clear: if we’re going to win and transform our state, the old way of doing things just won’t cut it anymore,” WFP state director Bill Lipton said. “For eight years we tried to work with Andrew Cuomo to transform New York into a truly progressive state. For eight years he broke his promises and kept the Republicans in the State Senate, blocking critical legislation for affordable housing, women’s equality and criminal justice reform.”

Sensing the WFP nomination was slipping from his grasp, Cuomo announced on Friday evening that he didn’t want it anyway. Major unions that have endorsed the governor pulled out of the WFP, continuing an exodus of Cuomo-allied unions that began in 2014.

A few union representatives spoke up on the governor’s behalf anyway.

“He has shown his commitment to working families, he passed the [$15] minimum wage. Just this week he signed a bill on the Janus issue, which is very important to our members,” said Beverley Brakeman, assistant director of the United Auto Workers Region 9A. “The governor is the strongest candidate here and we think he’s going to win and we’re going to help him win. We’re very concerned about the process here, and we’re very concerned about this being a spoiler and hurting us all in 2018.”

But the overwhelming sentiment among those who attended the WFP event was that Cuomo was a false progressive, whose tacit support for the state Senate’s Independent Democratic Conference has led to what they believe are watered-down achievements. (Earlier this month, Cuomo cheered as the IDC dissolved into the Senate’s mainstream Democratic conference.)

“Many of us have imprisoned ourselves in a cell with no windows and doors. Fear of losing some tenuous grip on power derived through duplicitous efforts has left us satisfied with scraps gained,” said Rosemary Rivera of the group Citizen Action on New York. “It’s not enough.”

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