Silver: W.F.P. has ‘no alternative’ to Cuomo

Sheldon Silver. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)
Tweet Share on Facebook Share on Tumblr Print

ALBANY—Add Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver to the list of pro-labor liberals who think the Working Families Party should endorse Andrew Cuomo's re-election bid.

“I don't think there's an alternative,” Silver told Capital this week. “I don't think they want Rob Astorino to be the governor, and that's all they'd be accomplishing: helping him by diverting what would otherwise be a Democratic vote.”

Cuomo, a Democrat seeking his second term, has run into resistance from the W.F.P., an amalgamation of labor unions and progressive activists that offers a crucial second ballot line for (usually) Democratic candidates in both state and local elections. Despite a platform of fiscal austerity, Cuomo took the party's line in 2010.

Some W.F.P. activists have complained that Cuomo, as promised, did not govern in sync with their fiscal ideology. The most recent gripe is over establishing a system of public campaign finance: Cuomo agreed with Republicans to disband his anti-corruption panel in exchange for a pilot program that only applied to the comptroller's election, and was quickly panned by good-government advocates.

MORE ON CAPITAL

ADVERTISEMENT

Responding to concerns that he might not win the W.F.P. nomination, Cuomo is focusing his post-budget rhetoric on more liberal items—including more on public campaign finance, the Dream Act to open state tuition assistance to undocumented immigrants, and changes to state abortion laws.

The governor has also been targeting the W.F.P.'s major labor-union constituents, and on Tuesday, two Cuomo surrogates made the governor's case in a conference call with members of the party's state committee.

Silver's case was far more concise, and rooted solely in practicality. While the most recent poll showed a left-flank challenge on the W.F.P. line would cut into Cuomo's vote total, it would not lead to victory. At its most successful, it would simply provide an opening for Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, the Republican candidate.

Silver's partisan-liberal credentials are unimpeachable: He leads a chamber dominated by Democrats, has been a reliable champion of W.F.P. priorities including raising the minimum wage and allowing localities to do the same.

The W.F.P. will make the decision during a convention at the end of this month.