At W.F.P. gala, little talk of the Cuomo issue

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At a gala dinner in Queens last night, leaders and supporters of the Working Families Party proudly hailed its recent victories in the city, while conspicuously avoiding talk of the existential threat posed by Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Actress and frequent de Blasio surrogate Cynthia Nixon told the crowd at MOMA PS1 that, on the party's 16th birthday, the seeds of its work were "finally starting to come to fruition."

"We’re at the beginning of a great progressive era in New York City," she said, as guests drank craft beer and ate hors d'oeuvres, including truffled grilled cheeses. "Bill de Blasio, Letitia James, Melissa Mark-Viverito. That is a holy trinity if I ever heard of one. We’ve had so many victories lately, and I feel that if we keep working, we have so many more coming."

Cuomo ran on the W.F.P. line in 2010, but his prioritization of low taxes, among other things, has led to tensions. 

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Restive state committee members have suggested the possibility of denying the governor their ballot line this time and even of supporting a liberal challenger, as punishment to Cuomo for not sufficiently addressing their issus. But the decision will directly affect the party's ballot placement—a primary, crucial source of leverage—which is determined by its showing in the governor's race.

Asked last night whether he had a minute to talk about the party’s gubernatorial endorsement, party co-chair Bob Master replied, “No. Got nothing to say.”

Public advocate Letitia James, the only City Council member ever to be elected solely on the W.F.P. line, didn't mention Cuomo in a long list of officials she recognized from the stage and twice refused to be interviewed.

The W.F.P. state committee meets at the end of the month to decide on its endorsement, and Bertha Lewis told Capital there is still time for the governor to make good on the party's issues.

“Progressives are finally speaking out about what they don’t like," Lewis said outside the event. "And, you know, you need a little bit more substance and real action and not just saying, 'You know, I support you.' Now, [it’s] not too late. I am the eternal optimist. I’ve known Andrew for a long time. I am optimistic that Andrew will come around. And actually come out with a bold issue that matters to the W.F.P. … Now make no doubt about it. Pushing gun [control] and marriage equality and those kind of things, you know, absolutely. … But of course, we’re like that Prince song, we’re never satisfied."

After noting that he is not on the state committee, and therefore doesn't have a formal vote on Cuomo's nomination, Councilman Brad Lander told Capital: “I love being part of the institution. I think it’s got a lot of integrity. What I love about the party is its forthright and principled advocacy of progressive causes, and I am eager to see it act in a way that really, very strongly upholds and affirms forthright, bold, progressive leadership. And unfortunately, these days, we don’t always see a lot of that in Albany.”

Asked about the endorsement, Khan Shoieb, New York communications director for the W.F.P., answered, “We have a democratic process and we’re gonna respect that process. Between now and May 31, our state committee will have a decision to make."