By LOUIS FLORES
Three days before the November general election, the Working Families Party paid to rent the e-mail list of The Nation magazine in a get out the vote effort for Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) on the Working Families Party Line.
The e-mail appealed to women voters to counteract the onslaught of messaging from the Women's Equality Party, an astroturf political party promoted by Gov. Cuomo and former New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who is seeking to make a political comeback after a disastrous third-place finish in the NewYork City mayoral race last year.
It's been widely perceived that the Women's Equality Party was conceived by the Cuomo campaign to undercut the Working Families Party and to invoke reproduction rights as a wedge issue against County Executive Rob Astorino (R-Westchester), the Republican Party gubernatorial candidate. The ostensible aim of the Women's Equality Party is to elect candidates to the legislature, who will vote to pass a ten-point legislative proposal to codify women's rights into state law. In Gov. Cuomo's first term, the 10-point plan stalled in the state legislature for two years in a row. However, 11 of the 17 candidates running on the suspect party are men, as reported by The New York Observer. Only in Gov. Cuomo's politically-expedient election year machinations could a women's political party keep women in the minority, government reform activists complain.
“The Women’s Equality Party is a sham party," said Zephyr Teachout, as quoted by The New York Observer, when she was still running, in August, for the Democratic Party primary, adding, "Christine Quinn can start a fake Women’s Equality Party, and Andrew Cuomo can run on it, but it cannot change the fact that Andrew Cuomo is the reason there is no Women’s Equality Act in New York.”
Ms. Teachout won more votes that she was expected to win in the Democratic Party primary, but she still came in second. Following the primary election, Gov. Cuomo and former Speaker Quinn have been escalating their outreach to working women, the natural base of the Working Families Party, in a move many see as an attempt to undercut the Working Families Party. Gov. Cuomo and former Speaker Quinn as widely regarded as representing the neoliberal/corporate wing of the Democratic Party.
All this inter-party conflict follows the controversial nomination by the Working Families Party of Gov. Cuomo last spring. Since then, the Working Families Party wing and the neoliberal/corporate wing of the Democratic Party have been at odds in a battle to steer the Democrats into the future. The Working Families Party wing claim that they support a progressive agenda, but voters have been unable to understand the rationale for the Working Families Party's endorsement of a divisive, neoliberal incumbent, like Gov. Cuomo.
Recently, other liberal factions in New York have entered the fray. The Nation magazine endorsed Gov. Cuomo in a controversial editorial that rationalized the move only if voters cast their ballots on the Working Families Party line. Katrina vanden Heuvel, publisher of The Nation magazine, then joined with neoliberal Wall Street hedge fund titans by making unlimited campaign donations to a campaign committee account of the Working Families Party. That The Nation magazine is now renting out its e-mail list to the Working Families Party may suggest greater coordination between the Working Families Party and some liberal media outlets in an effort to fluff the Working Families Party in a pushback against the "sham" Women's Equality Party.
Even Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), who normally likes to play up identity politics, has scorned the Women's Equality Party in favour of supporting the Working Families Party faction of Democrats, even though she once served as counsel to Gov. Cuomo when he was secretary of Housing and Urban Development under the Clinton administration.
These machinations are heightened by the fact that voter turnout on Tuesday may be very low. Participation in September's Democratic Party primary, in New York City alone, was below 10 per cent. of registered voters, according to a report in Capital New York.
Updated to reflect Sen. Gillibrand's support of the Working Families Party ballot line.