Actor and education advocate Cynthia Nixon won the endorsement of the minor party Working Families Party at a meeting in Albany Saturday. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who is running in a Democratic primary against Nixon, dropped out of contention for the party’s nomination Friday night, after delegates were leaning toward Nixon.
“I am so proud to accept the endorsement of the Working Families Party,” Nixon told the enthusiastic crowd of progressive and activist groups.
She said that New York would be different if she were in charge. She promised to end cash bail, make New York a sanctuary state for immigrants, and phase out fossil fuels.
“When I am governor I will push this state ambitiously, aggressively toward a 100% renewal energy economy,” said Nixon, who said thousands of green jobs could be created, including in communities hard hit by “corporate polluters.”
Cuomo’s campaign announced Friday night that the governor would end his quest to win the party’s nomination. He was endorsed in 2010, and again in 2014, but the progressive wing of the party had increasing reservations about the governor. Executive Director Bill Lipton says many in the party blame Cuomo for the continued control of the state Senate by Republicans, saying Cuomo didn’t do enough to help Democrats win seats and mend differences.
“For 8 years he broke his promises and kept the Republicans in power in the state senate,” said Lipton. “Blocking critical legislation for affordable housing, women’s equality and criminal justice reform.”
The governor now says he supports Democratic control of the Senate.
Just before Cuomo dropped out, two major remaining unions in the party announced that they were withdrawing from the Working Families Party, and other union leaders released stinging rebukes, calling the WFP “phony lifestyle progressives,” and saying the party was a “cynical ploy” to use the unions to “drive a radical agenda.”
Lipton says the unions were bullied by Cuomo into leaving the party. He said he was in meeting where Cuomo “threatened “ union leaders that he would no longer take their calls if they continued their association with the party. The governor's campaign denies that occurred. There were also published reports that said the governor urged the unions to withdraw funding from community groups within the Working Families Party.
Nixon, speaking to reporters after the speech, says that is going too far, and it “troubled” her.
“I don’t think the governors’ demand for loyalty should go that far,” said Nixon. “This is a democracy. People should endorse the people they want to endorse and not have their livelihoods threatened by it.”
The Working Families Party also endorsed New York City Councilman Jumaane Williams for Lieutenant Governor. Williams was chosen instead of Cuomo’s Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, who said she was not seeking the endorsement. He took an indirect shot at Cuomo and Hochul.
“I’m not naming names, but anybody who says they would not accept the endorsement of the Working Families Party is not a true progressive in New York State,” Williams said.
Williams and Nixon say they are not yet ready to run as a team.
The designation means that if Nixon were to lose the Democratic primary for governor in September, she would still be on the statewide ballot in November.
After the vote, the governor’s campaign issued a statement, saying, in part “The governor’s record of progressive accomplishment is unmatched from delivering a $15 minimum wage, marriage equality, the strongest gun safety laws in the nation, free college tuition, paid family leave, ending finger printing for food stamps, and a record $27 billion in funding for education.”
Cuomo campaign spokeswoman Abbey Fashouer added “the schism between the progressive unions who founded the WFP and some of its member organizations is unfortunate, but in that divide the governor stands with the unions who have left the WFP and no longer feel it represents the interests of middle- and working-class New Yorkers.”