A party in need of resuscitation for a candidate in need of a following
When I asked Democratic consultant Jerry Skurnik about the news that Tom Allon will be the candidate of the Liberal Party in the 2013 mayor's race, his reaction was that it's better than nothing, marginally.
"It's better to be running as the Liberal Party candidate rather than some created name like Neighborhood Party," he said.
The Liberal Party isn't a party anymore in the generally recognized sense of the word. The party lost its place on the ballot in 2002 after Andrew Cuomo ran on the Liberal line but then dropped out of the race before the Democratic primary, and never got it back.
Between the fact that the party had come to be identified more closely with patronage than any particular ideology, and the advent of the actually liberal Working Families Party, its demise was briefly noted and little mourned.
Any candidate now who has the Liberal line must still petition to get onto the ballot, just as if he or she had started his or her own "Neighborhood Party."
Still, Skurnik said, the party name has the potential to resonate with a "certain segment of older voters who remember the Liberal Party and younger voters who think 'well, I'm a liberal, I'll vote that party.'"
Democratic consultant Hank Sheinkopf saw it as a mutually beneficial deal between Allon and the party.
"The Liberal Party needs to be resuscitated," he said. "Tom Allon is a good man. It is a perfect arrangement for both. Most New Yorkers alive today have no clue about the history of the liberal party. Nor a clue about Tom Allon. That's what campaigns are for."