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The WFP Dilemma

June 4, 2010

The Working Families Party was to have nominated Andrew Cuomo for governor at this weekend’s convention. But that won’t happen because Cuomo has refused to accept the endorsement until a federal investigation of the party is concluded. 

Now WFP officials must scramble to find a suitable standard bearer who can garner 50,000 votes in the fall. If they fail to do so, the party will lose its ballot position.   

Cuomo, recognizing the value of the line (it was worth 150,000 votes for Spitzer in 2006) wants WFP officials to designate a “placeholder” until such time as he could comfortably accept the nomination. 

The problem with this is that nobody knows when the federal investigation will be resolved. Moreover, the stratagem, although not the sleazy backroom deal the Republicans call it, is indeed awkward. 

Cuomo is basically saying: “I want the party’s nod as long as it is not more trouble than it is worth.” 

With the New York Post pressing him not to accept the nomination, the benefit wasn’t worth the cost. 

Presumably later on, when the investigation is cleared up, he might accept the line without incurring the Post’s ire. 

While we understand the dynamic involved, we still we can’t help feeling slightly off-put by Cuomo’s posture.  It’s another example of how calculating he is. In this regard, would it have been out of the question for him to take one of these two approaches: 

“I believe in the principles of this party. I’m going to accept the nomination, and if it turns out that there was wrongdoing, I’ll do my best to make sure it is addressed properly.” 

Or, “I’m not going to accept the nomination because I want it to be clear that nobody has their hooks into me. I respect the goals and aspirations of WFP, and I wish them well, but I want to be totally independent as governor.” 

Instead, Cuomo is keeping his options open, and letting the WFP dangle. 

We now find ourselves in the rather odd position of sympathizing with WFP. Our strongly-held belief is that unions have way too much power and influence in New York. And yet, we don’t want to see their party undermined by a situation like this. 

Instead, we want to win on the merits. We want people to recognize the clear need for more moderate fiscal and economic policies in New York. In the end, the unions and WFP aren’t the “enemy.” It’s just that their influence needs to be balanced.

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