For New York progressives, Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) is Governor 1 Percent.
On economic issues, Cuomo has been no liberal Democrat. He’s cut taxes on the wealthy, sparred with New York City mayor Bill de Blasio over a minimum-wage raise, and cut funding for state education. Former NY assemblyman Richard Brodsky (D) told Vox about Cuomo: “He’s adopted the philosophical and political posture that the problem with government is overtaxing and overspending. How is that different from a Tea Party conservative?”
And now, Cuomo’s fiscal conservatism has earned him admonition from progressive groups in New York. Specifically, the New York Working Families Party (WFP), — a growing political party made up primarily of liberal activists and labor unions — will most likely nominate a candidate to challenge the governor in the November general election.
The Working Families Party will hold its convention this weekend, where it is expected to nominate its own candidate, rather than endorsing Cuomo. “Unless there is a significant new development in the next 24 hours, I don’t expect the state committee to endorse the governor,” Karen Scharff, co-chair of the WFP, told The New York Times.
Instead, the party will likely throw its support behind Zephyr Teachout, a Fordham law professor and former staffer for Howard Dean during his failed presidential bid.
Teachout told the Times about the election: “Voters in New York want a real choice, and right now, with just Astorino and Cuomo — they seem to just be fighting about who can give more tax breaks to billionaires.”
This news comes on the heels of Mayor de Blasio — a friend of WFP — lobbying the group on behalf of Governor Cuomo. The New York Daily News reported Tuesday that de Blasio met with leaders of WFP and labor union officials to convince them Cuomo deserved their support.
Ironically, when Cuomo was first seeking the Democratic nomination for governor in 2010, he wanted nothing to do with The Working Families Party. In 2010, he urged WFP – which was under scrutiny by federal prosecutors at the time — to not nominate him as the party’s candidate.
Today, the tables have turned.
And considering just how many votes WFP can deliver to Cuomo, it’s no wonder he wants to secure the party’s nomination.
According to a recent Quinnipiac poll of New York voters, Governor Cuomo leads Republican challenger Rob Astorino by a margin of 57 percent to 28 percent. But the same poll shows that if Cuomo is matched up against Astorino and a hypothetical third candidate from the Working Families Party, the governor’s support would shrink significantly: He would receive just 37 percent, while 24 percent would favor Astorino and 22 percent would back the WFP candidate.
Nevertheless, Cuomo and his Democratic camp are confident about their chances in the general election. A Cuomo spokesman told The New York Times about the governor’s challengers on the left, “The governor just finished a Democratic convention where he was endorsed by every credible progressive official and labor leader in New York.”
Photo: Pat Arnow via Flickr