Gotham Gazette Gotham Gazette is an online publication covering New York policy and politics as well as news on public safety, transportation, education, finance and more. http://www.gothamgazette.com/component/tags/tag/letitia-james 2018-07-20T02:49:43+00:00 Webmaster webmaster@gothamgazette.com Max & Murphy Podcast: Letitia James & the Attorney General Primary 2018-07-18T04:00:00+00:00 2018-07-18T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7812:max-murphy-podcast-letitia-james-the-attorney-general-primary Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/podcast18/mxm-logo.jpg" alt="mxm logo" width="600" height="239" /></p> <p>Ben Max, left, of Gotham Gazette,&nbsp;and Jarrett Murphy, right, of City Limits</p> <hr /> <p><strong>July 18, 2018 - Max &amp; Murphy Podcast: Letitia James &amp; the Attorney General Primary<br /></strong></p> <p>On Wednesday, July 18, the Max &amp; Murphy podcast moved to the airwaves of WBAI radio, 99.5FM and wbai.org, where the hosts will weekly interview guests, discuss key issues, and take calls from listeners -- every Wednesday 5-6 p.m. The first show focused on the Democratic primary for Attorney General, with guest Letitia James, the New York City Public Advocate now seeking to become the AG. James joined the show to discuss her candidacy, how she stands out from her competition -- Zephyr Teachout, Leecia Eve, and Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney -- her relationship with Governor Andrew Cuomo, how she would fight public corruption, and much more. James also took a couple of listener calls. The show additionally included discussion of the race by the hosts, a short clip of last week's conversation with Teachout, and a couple of other listener calls for the hosts.</p> <p>Listen to the full conversation and let us know what you think -- we're on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/TweetBenMax" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">@TweetBenMax </a>and <a href="https://twitter.com/jarrettmurphy" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">@JarrettMurphy</a>. You can listen to the show through the embedded audio below or download the episode wherever you get your podcasts, under "Max &amp; Murphy," and listen to the show on Wednesdays at 5 p.m. on WBAI radio.</p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/473584263&amp;color=%23ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_teaser=true" width="100%" height="170" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p>

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by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

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</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/podcast18/mxm-logo.jpg" alt="mxm logo" width="600" height="239" /></p> <p>Ben Max, left, of Gotham Gazette,&nbsp;and Jarrett Murphy, right, of City Limits</p> <hr /> <p><strong>July 18, 2018 - Max &amp; Murphy Podcast: Letitia James &amp; the Attorney General Primary<br /></strong></p> <p>On Wednesday, July 18, the Max &amp; Murphy podcast moved to the airwaves of WBAI radio, 99.5FM and wbai.org, where the hosts will weekly interview guests, discuss key issues, and take calls from listeners -- every Wednesday 5-6 p.m. The first show focused on the Democratic primary for Attorney General, with guest Letitia James, the New York City Public Advocate now seeking to become the AG. James joined the show to discuss her candidacy, how she stands out from her competition -- Zephyr Teachout, Leecia Eve, and Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney -- her relationship with Governor Andrew Cuomo, how she would fight public corruption, and much more. James also took a couple of listener calls. The show additionally included discussion of the race by the hosts, a short clip of last week's conversation with Teachout, and a couple of other listener calls for the hosts.</p> <p>Listen to the full conversation and let us know what you think -- we're on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/TweetBenMax" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">@TweetBenMax </a>and <a href="https://twitter.com/jarrettmurphy" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">@JarrettMurphy</a>. You can listen to the show through the embedded audio below or download the episode wherever you get your podcasts, under "Max &amp; Murphy," and listen to the show on Wednesdays at 5 p.m. on WBAI radio.</p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/473584263&amp;color=%23ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_teaser=true" width="100%" height="170" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p>

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by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

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</p>
Statewide Candidates File July Fundraising Numbers 2018-07-17T04:00:00+00:00 2018-07-17T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7810:statewide-candidates-file-july-fundraising-numbers Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/42779182521_8afd7af138_z.jpg" alt="Cuomo check" width="600" height="402" /></p> <p>Gov. Cuomo at a funding event (photo: The Governor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p>With less than two months till the September 13 primary election, candidates running for state office filed campaign financial disclosure reports with the New York State Board of Elections by the Monday deadline, showing fundraising and expenditures from a six-month period between January 16 and July 16.</p> <p>Governor Andrew Cuomo, the two-term incumbent Democrat who is running for reelection, continues to maintain an overwhelming funding advantage with more than $31 million in his campaign coffers. Cuomo raised more than $6 million since January and spent about $5.3 million in the same period.</p> <p>Cuomo’s campaign attempted to tout the number of small-dollar donations it received, likely a response to criticism of the governor’s reliance on wealthy donors and contributions from Limited Liability Companies (LLCs). The campaign said 57 percent of the number of donations received were for less than $250. But those donations only added up to less than $64,000, eliding the fact that nearly 99 percent of the total value of the fundraising came from big donors, including $500,000 in corporate donations and $2.5 million from LLCs and PACs. Cuomo also received 69 separate contributions from the same individual, Christopher Kim of Long Island City, which his primary opponent Cynthia Nixon, the actor and education activist, called an attempt to “astroturf” his campaign (New York Times reporter Shane Goldmacher <a href="https://twitter.com/ShaneGoldmacher/status/1019270200821211136" target="_blank" rel="noopener">found</a> that Kim shares an address with a Cuomo aide; several other Cuomo aides, relatives of aides, and long-time associates gave Cuomo small donations in an apparent attempt to inflate his small-dollar numbers).</p> <p>Nixon, who has staked her campaign on small donors, has been issuing scathing critiques of Cuomo’s fundraising practices that she says are a symptom and cause of a pay-to-play culture in state government. Nixon brought in about $500,000 in the last six months, paling in comparison with Cuomo’s haul, and spent about $274,000. Her campaign has noted that she received more than 30,000 individual contributions since she launched her campaign, and that 97 percent of those were small-dollar contributions. She has just under $658,000 in cash-on-hand.</p> <p>Marc Molinaro, the Republican nominee for governor who doesn’t have a primary challenger, raised more than $1.1 million and has spent $250,000, leaving him with $887,000 with four months to go until the November 7 Election Day. Molinaro’s general election competition will become more clear after the Democratic primary is settled, but there are several smaller party and independent candidates running. His running-mate, Julie Killian, does not appear to have filed her discloure yet, but Molinaro's campaign filing shows a $45,000 loan from Killian herself, <a href="http://www.nystateofpolitics.com/2018/07/molinaros-campaign-gets-a-boost-from-killian/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">as reported</a> by Nick Reisman of Spectrum News.</p> <p>Green Party nominee Howie Hawkins brought in $24,000 and spent $7,000 in the filing period, leaving him just under $17,000 in his campaign account.</p> <p>Former Democratic Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner, who only jumped into the governor’s race last month and is running as an independent, and her running mate Republican Michael Volpe, the mayor of Pelham, together raised $409,000, spent $247,000 and have $162,000 in cash on hand. The two plan a general election ticket on the Serve America Movement ballot line, for which they are petitioning with the help of the organizers of the new movement.</p> <p>Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Larry Sharpe, who, like Miner, is petitioning his way onto the general election ballot, has raised $115,000, but his expenditures amounted to $154,000, leaving him with a negative balance of just above $13,000.</p> <p>Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, a Democrat seeking a second term alongside Cuomo, faces New York City Council Member Jumaane Williams in the primary, which will be Thursday, September 13. Hochul reported an intake of $1.25 million and had only spent $150,000 in the same time. She has about $1.24 million at her disposal. Williams’ fundraising report was not available on the BOE website as of Tuesday afternoon, something Hochul criticized him for.</p> <p>"Our campaign's financial disclosure report was filed on time Monday evening but there were technical issues that we are working with the Board of Elections to immediately address," said William Gerlich, a spokesperson for Williams' campaign, in a statement. Gerlich said Williams had raised nearly $200,000.</p> <p>Candidates for governor and lieutenant governor run separately in a primary and on a joint ticket in the general.</p> <p>Four candidates are competing for the Democratic nomination for attorney general, in a spirited race that has seen several of them posting strong fundraising numbers.</p> <p>New York City Public Advocate Letitia James was chosen as the Democratic Party’s designee at its state convention. James’ disclosure reports were not available with the BOE but the campaign claimed it has raised more than $1.1 million in just two months, and nearly 60 percent of those contributions were from donors who gave $200 or less.</p> <p>Zephyr Teachout, the Fordham Law professor who unsuccessfully challenged Governor Cuomo in the 2014 Democratic primary, is running for attorney general, pledging to refuse corporate, LLC, and PAC donations. Teachout showed about $551,000 in fundraising from more than 10,000 individual donors -- 97 percent of her funds came from donors who gave less than $200 -- and has spent about $284,000. She has $314,000 in cash on hand.</p> <p>Former Cuomo and Hillary Clinton aide Leecia Eve raised $300,000 in total for her bid for attorney general and spent about $50,000. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney reported a $1.1 million haul and spent $145,000, but his campaign told The New York Times last week that he has another $3.1 million in funds raised for his congressional reelection that he believes he can use in the statewide race. He is running for both offices simultaneously, with the state AG primary set to determine whether he stays on the November ballot for congressional reelection.</p> <p>The latest filings also revealed that former Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who resigned after facing accusations of physical abuse by several romantic partners, triggering the Democratic primary, returned $982,000 to campaign contributors. He still has several million dollars in the bank.</p> <p>Keith Wofford, the Republican nominee for attorney general, raised more than $1 million in total and has only spent about $25,000 since entering the race. He is not facing a primary.</p> <p>State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, an incumbent Democrat, isn’t facing a primary opponent this year either. He reported raising $683,000 since January and spent $351,000. He has about $2.6 million in his campaign account, eclipsing his two opponents.</p> <p>John Trichter, until recently a registered Democrat, received the Republican Party’s nomination for comptroller. Trichter has only raised $156,000 and spent $18,500. He has about $138,000 in his campaign chest. The Green Party’s Mark Dunlea is also running for comptroller and has $5,000 in campaign cash.</p> <p>

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by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p> <p>Note - This article has been updated with comment from a spokesperson for Jumaane Williams' campaign. &nbsp;</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/42779182521_8afd7af138_z.jpg" alt="Cuomo check" width="600" height="402" /></p> <p>Gov. Cuomo at a funding event (photo: The Governor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p>With less than two months till the September 13 primary election, candidates running for state office filed campaign financial disclosure reports with the New York State Board of Elections by the Monday deadline, showing fundraising and expenditures from a six-month period between January 16 and July 16.</p> <p>Governor Andrew Cuomo, the two-term incumbent Democrat who is running for reelection, continues to maintain an overwhelming funding advantage with more than $31 million in his campaign coffers. Cuomo raised more than $6 million since January and spent about $5.3 million in the same period.</p> <p>Cuomo’s campaign attempted to tout the number of small-dollar donations it received, likely a response to criticism of the governor’s reliance on wealthy donors and contributions from Limited Liability Companies (LLCs). The campaign said 57 percent of the number of donations received were for less than $250. But those donations only added up to less than $64,000, eliding the fact that nearly 99 percent of the total value of the fundraising came from big donors, including $500,000 in corporate donations and $2.5 million from LLCs and PACs. Cuomo also received 69 separate contributions from the same individual, Christopher Kim of Long Island City, which his primary opponent Cynthia Nixon, the actor and education activist, called an attempt to “astroturf” his campaign (New York Times reporter Shane Goldmacher <a href="https://twitter.com/ShaneGoldmacher/status/1019270200821211136" target="_blank" rel="noopener">found</a> that Kim shares an address with a Cuomo aide; several other Cuomo aides, relatives of aides, and long-time associates gave Cuomo small donations in an apparent attempt to inflate his small-dollar numbers).</p> <p>Nixon, who has staked her campaign on small donors, has been issuing scathing critiques of Cuomo’s fundraising practices that she says are a symptom and cause of a pay-to-play culture in state government. Nixon brought in about $500,000 in the last six months, paling in comparison with Cuomo’s haul, and spent about $274,000. Her campaign has noted that she received more than 30,000 individual contributions since she launched her campaign, and that 97 percent of those were small-dollar contributions. She has just under $658,000 in cash-on-hand.</p> <p>Marc Molinaro, the Republican nominee for governor who doesn’t have a primary challenger, raised more than $1.1 million and has spent $250,000, leaving him with $887,000 with four months to go until the November 7 Election Day. Molinaro’s general election competition will become more clear after the Democratic primary is settled, but there are several smaller party and independent candidates running. His running-mate, Julie Killian, does not appear to have filed her discloure yet, but Molinaro's campaign filing shows a $45,000 loan from Killian herself, <a href="http://www.nystateofpolitics.com/2018/07/molinaros-campaign-gets-a-boost-from-killian/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">as reported</a> by Nick Reisman of Spectrum News.</p> <p>Green Party nominee Howie Hawkins brought in $24,000 and spent $7,000 in the filing period, leaving him just under $17,000 in his campaign account.</p> <p>Former Democratic Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner, who only jumped into the governor’s race last month and is running as an independent, and her running mate Republican Michael Volpe, the mayor of Pelham, together raised $409,000, spent $247,000 and have $162,000 in cash on hand. The two plan a general election ticket on the Serve America Movement ballot line, for which they are petitioning with the help of the organizers of the new movement.</p> <p>Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Larry Sharpe, who, like Miner, is petitioning his way onto the general election ballot, has raised $115,000, but his expenditures amounted to $154,000, leaving him with a negative balance of just above $13,000.</p> <p>Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, a Democrat seeking a second term alongside Cuomo, faces New York City Council Member Jumaane Williams in the primary, which will be Thursday, September 13. Hochul reported an intake of $1.25 million and had only spent $150,000 in the same time. She has about $1.24 million at her disposal. Williams’ fundraising report was not available on the BOE website as of Tuesday afternoon, something Hochul criticized him for.</p> <p>"Our campaign's financial disclosure report was filed on time Monday evening but there were technical issues that we are working with the Board of Elections to immediately address," said William Gerlich, a spokesperson for Williams' campaign, in a statement. Gerlich said Williams had raised nearly $200,000.</p> <p>Candidates for governor and lieutenant governor run separately in a primary and on a joint ticket in the general.</p> <p>Four candidates are competing for the Democratic nomination for attorney general, in a spirited race that has seen several of them posting strong fundraising numbers.</p> <p>New York City Public Advocate Letitia James was chosen as the Democratic Party’s designee at its state convention. James’ disclosure reports were not available with the BOE but the campaign claimed it has raised more than $1.1 million in just two months, and nearly 60 percent of those contributions were from donors who gave $200 or less.</p> <p>Zephyr Teachout, the Fordham Law professor who unsuccessfully challenged Governor Cuomo in the 2014 Democratic primary, is running for attorney general, pledging to refuse corporate, LLC, and PAC donations. Teachout showed about $551,000 in fundraising from more than 10,000 individual donors -- 97 percent of her funds came from donors who gave less than $200 -- and has spent about $284,000. She has $314,000 in cash on hand.</p> <p>Former Cuomo and Hillary Clinton aide Leecia Eve raised $300,000 in total for her bid for attorney general and spent about $50,000. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney reported a $1.1 million haul and spent $145,000, but his campaign told The New York Times last week that he has another $3.1 million in funds raised for his congressional reelection that he believes he can use in the statewide race. He is running for both offices simultaneously, with the state AG primary set to determine whether he stays on the November ballot for congressional reelection.</p> <p>The latest filings also revealed that former Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who resigned after facing accusations of physical abuse by several romantic partners, triggering the Democratic primary, returned $982,000 to campaign contributors. He still has several million dollars in the bank.</p> <p>Keith Wofford, the Republican nominee for attorney general, raised more than $1 million in total and has only spent about $25,000 since entering the race. He is not facing a primary.</p> <p>State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, an incumbent Democrat, isn’t facing a primary opponent this year either. He reported raising $683,000 since January and spent $351,000. He has about $2.6 million in his campaign account, eclipsing his two opponents.</p> <p>John Trichter, until recently a registered Democrat, received the Republican Party’s nomination for comptroller. Trichter has only raised $156,000 and spent $18,500. He has about $138,000 in his campaign chest. The Green Party’s Mark Dunlea is also running for comptroller and has $5,000 in campaign cash.</p> <p>

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by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

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</p> <p>Note - This article has been updated with comment from a spokesperson for Jumaane Williams' campaign. &nbsp;</p>
New York Democrats’ Season of Choosing 2018-07-11T04:00:00+00:00 2018-07-11T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7798:new-york-democrats-season-of-choosing Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/corey-johnson-jessica-ramos-robert-jackson-cityhall.jpg" alt="corey johnson jessica ramos robert jackson cityhall" width="600" height="475" /></p> <p>Corey Johnson endorses IDC challengers (photo: Gotham Gazette)</p> <hr /> <p>As progressives aggressively attempt to wrest control of the Democratic Party from the hands of those they call centrists and establishment politicians, elected Democrats across New York find themselves in an unenviable position. Abiding by their self-professed progressive values to support insurgent Democratic primary challengers could mean bucking the state party establishment and its leader, Governor Andrew Cuomo, while, on the other hand, toeing the party line risks opening them up to accusations of hypocrisy and betrayal -- and perhaps even a future primary challenge -- levelled by an enraged and engaged base.</p> <p>A battle that played out during the 2016 presidential primary between Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and former Secretary of State and New York Senator Hillary Clinton has only intensified since Donald Trump’s victory. The 2018 election cycle is offering many opportunities across the country for Democrats, elected officials and otherwise, to decide between what is essentially two wings of the party. The Democrats’ season of choosing is easier for some than others, but many prominent party figures find themselves in uncomfortable situations. At stake is nothing short of political careers, the fate of activist organizations, the policy agenda and future of the Democratic Party, the outcomes of current and prospective elections, and their aftermaths in terms of government policies that affect millions.</p> <p>At the center in New York is Cuomo, his lieutenant governor, Kathy Hochul, and the state Senate’s erstwhile Independent Democratic Conference, eight senators who chose power over party for as many as seven years by empowering Republican control of the legislative chamber, what has been the GOP’s only stronghold in state government. In April, the renegades returned to the fold with assurances from Cuomo, who long tolerated and allegedly enabled their infidelity, that their seats were secure, at least from other Democrats. Under the accord brokered by the governor just after a new state budget was passed, the state Democratic Party machinery, fellow state-level electeds, and prominent labor unions would support these former IDC members -- who were time and again blamed for obstructing the passage of progressive legislation -- and would refuse to aid their challengers.</p> <p>Though Cuomo and the former IDC members have professed support for progressive priorities -- voting, elections and campaign finance reform, criminal justice reform, women’s reproductive rights, stronger rent regulations, immigrant protections, to name a few -- they have failed to pass legislation along those lines, blaming staunch opposition by Senate Republicans. Their progressive challengers instead say they have been the obstacles to progressive bills by empowering Republicans.</p> <p>Cuomo, at the top of the Democratic ticket, faces an aggressive challenge from actress and activist Cynthia Nixon in the primary. Nixon’s candidacy, from the left of Cuomo, parallels Fordham Law professor Zephyr Teachout’s unsuccessful gubernatorial bid four years ago, except it comes in a more heightened atmosphere of displeasure on the left following Trump’s election, amid disappointment with Cuomo’s relatively centrist record, and with increased awareness of the IDC. Nixon also has other advantages Teachout lacked, like name recognition and fundraising prowess, though Cuomo has worked over the past four years to make amends with some of his past critics, such as those in certain labor unions.</p> <p>A similar fight is being replicated in the race for lieutenant governor, between incumbent Democrat Hochul and her progressive challenger, Jumaane Williams, a City Council member from Brooklyn. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>All eight former IDC members face primary challenges ahead of the September 13 vote. Five of those districts fall squarely in New York City while another is split between the Bronx and Westchester, with two others upstate.</p> <p>In District 13, in Queens, Jessica Ramos is taking on Sen. Jose Peralta; in Brooklyn’s District 20, Zellnor Myrie is challenging Sen. Jesse Hamilton; on Manhattan’s west side, Robert Jackson is going up against Sen. Marisol Alcantara; in District 23, which spans Staten Island’s north shore and parts of Brooklyn, Jasmine Robinson is confronting Sen. Diane Savino; in District 11 in Queens, Sen. Tony Avella will again face former city Comptroller John Liu, who earned 47 percent in a losing 2014 bid to unseat Avella; and in District 34 that covers Westchester and the Bronx, Alessandra Biaggi is attempting to unseat the leader of the what was the IDC, Sen. Jeff Klein, who now serves as the deputy leader in the unified Senate Democratic Conference.</p> <p>Outside the city, in District 38 that spreads across Rockland and Westchester, Sen. David Carlucci faces a challenge from Julie Goldberg; and in District 53 covering Madison County and parts of Onondaga and Oneida, Sen. David Valesky faces Rachel May in the primary.</p> <p>For Cuomo and the state party, maintaining what Democratic seats they have in the Senate is paramount as they seek to flip the chamber by picking up more. Republicans have recently held control of the 63-seat chamber by a one-seat margin thanks to their own ranks and a single rogue conservative Senator from Brooklyn, Simcha Felder, a registered Democrat who won his most recent reelection on the Democratic, Republican, and Conservative Party lines -- Felder is also facing a Democratic primary this year, from Blake Morris.</p> <p>But while they also want to see Republican seats flipped in November, many progressive activists insist that the party needs to elect better, “bluer Democrats” than Cuomo, Hochul, and the former IDC members. Nixon has explained that it is her motivation to run for governor, saying that in the age of Trump not any Democrat will do. Cuomo and his supporters argue that not only has the governor been a progressive powerhouse, but that Democratic energy of all kinds would be better spent working in concert to flip red seats to blue.</p> <p>That argument has largely fallen on deaf ears among those displeased with Cuomo, Klein, and other Democratic incumbents.</p> <p>The shiny veneer of the Senate Democrat reunification deal and its accompanying pact of nonaggression has seemed to be wearing off as challengers to the IDC senators pick up endorsements from top Democratic incumbents and, in one candidate’s case, from an influential labor union that helped broker the merger of the Senate Democrats. Meanwhile, Nixon and Williams have picked up far more support from elected officials and organizations than Teachout and her lieutenant governor running mate, Tim Wu, achieved in 2014.</p> <p>Democrats across the spectrum are taking sides, and others will be expected to do so over the next few months, in decisions that could be determinative for those they endorse, for their own political trajectories, and for the larger map of New York’s Democratic world currently dominated by one set of elected and appointed officials, consultants, labor leaders, and the networks of power they control.</p> <p><strong>Mayoral Hopefuls</strong><br />On June 28, New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson announced his endorsement of Biaggi, Jackson, Ramos, and Myrie, providing them a boost at a time when progressives were already feeling emboldened by the congressional primary victory of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez earlier that week.</p> <p>A declared democratic socialist with a deeply progressive campaign platform, Ocasio-Cortez defeated Democratic giant Rep. Joe Crowley, a ten-term incumbent and the powerful boss of the Queens Democratic Party who was among the chief drivers of the Senate Democratic reunification and a possible next speaker of the House of Representatives. The stunning upset shook the foundations of the Democratic Party and undercut the conventional wisdom of the primacy of incumbents and machine politics, and its ramifications will likely be dissected for years. In New York, it’s immediate effects were quickly felt. Johnson, who had endorsed Crowley in the race, insisted the result did not affect his decision to endorse the four IDC challengers, which he said was in the works for months, but that did not stop observers from drawing a connection.</p> <p>“Whether it’s in Washington, D.C., or in Albany, the status quo isn’t working and that is why I’m here today in supporting four amazing candidates,” Johnson said at the steps of City Hall. “They are Democrats, they are progressive Democrats, they will caucus with the Democrats and they will support all the issues that Democrats support.” On Saturday, Johnson said on Twitter that he was ready to fully support Liu. At a Tuesday event in support of Biaggi, Johnson <a href="https://twitter.com/CoreyinNYC/status/1016874584489021440" target="_blank" rel="noopener">said</a>, “It feels really good to be able to tell the truth and for too long, people were not telling the truth about the IDC and the damage that they’ve done to the state of New York. And that damage was all in their own self-interest, putting their own self-interest above the entire state of New York.” &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>In a statement following Johnson’s endorsement, Barbara Brancaccio, a spokesperson for Klein, said, “Frankly we are surprised that our opponent would accept the endorsement of such a radioactive figure coming on the heels of his endorsement of Joe Crowley. We are sure that Johnson will do for this challenger, exactly what he did for Joe Crowley."</p> <p>At the same time, Johnson has also endorsed Governor Cuomo for reelection over Nixon, who continues to criticize the governor for supporting the IDC and whose platform largely resembles those of the IDC opponents. She shares stark similarities with Ocasio-Cortez and others seeking to upend incumbent Democrats who insurgents believe are too close to big-money interests and not in touch with their constituents who most need them. Nixon has begun to align herself more closely with those IDC challengers, cross-endorsing with Ramos earlier this week, for example.</p> <p>The same day as Johnson’s endorsement of the IDC challengers, 32BJ SEIU, the prominent building workers union, endorsed Biaggi, though their president Hector Figueroa had months ago been among those who proposed the Democratic reunification deal and the union is among several that have endorsed Cuomo and had also backed Crowley. “Jeff Klein and the IDC have empowered obstructionist Republicans set on blocking key reforms for too long,” Figueroa said <a href="http://www.seiu32bj.org/press-releases/32bj-seiu-endorses-biaggi/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">in a statement</a> announcing the endorsement. “Never again.”</p> <p>And just one day prior, New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer also endorsed Biaggi, a few months after he had already announced his support for Ramos and Jackson. The endorsements by Stringer, well before the Ocasio-Cortez win and its initial fallout, have won him much praise from liberal activists.</p> <p>Since his union came out for Biaggi, Figueroa has also addressed the Democratic split in New York, <a href="https://twitter.com/figue32bj/status/1016043465493372930" target="_blank" rel="noopener">writing on Twitter</a>, “Dems upset about IDC folks being primaried ‘for it may lead to the GOP winning a majority of NY Senate’ do not blame the ‘left’. The ones to be blamed are IDC incumbents themselves &amp; those STILL defending them. IDC betrayed voters creating a big political mess. Time to clean up.”</p> <p>Along with the number and strength of the progressive primary challengers to established incumbents and Ocasio-Cortez’s win, these endorsements, headlining still others, are the clearest cracks in the Democratic foundation that Cuomo and other state leaders have tried to set.</p> <p>“I think it’s fascinating because we do see a lack of cohesion as to whether or not people are going to support the IDC members or their challengers,” said Dr. Christina Greer, a political science professor at Fordham University. “And I think this debate is sort of reflective of a larger debate that’s going on in the Democratic Party, for the soul of the Democratic party…‘Are we centrist, conservative-leaning Democrats or are we progressive?’”</p> <p>To some, these moves may smack of political opportunism, particularly in the case of Johnson, who is supporting progressives on the one hand while propping up establishment centrists like Crowley and Cuomo on the other. But in the New York political landscape, Greer said these endorsements are equally driven by philosophical considerations as they are by pragmatic ones. “These are politicians…I think that they can genuinely care about an issue and I think that they can also be calculating and strategic about it,” she said.</p> <p>For some, there is also a difference between backing a less experienced candidate for state Senate based on ideological reasons as opposed to the chief executive of the state.</p> <p>Both Johnson and Stringer are widely expected to run for mayor in 2021, the next city election cycle, when Mayor Bill de Blasio will be term-limited out of office, and tapping the progressive energy that Ocasio-Cortez rode to power, and that is now propelling Nixon, Williams, the IDC challengers, and others, would likewise boost their own political fortunes.</p> <p>“I think in the Democratic primary, the progressive energy in the city, that’s what you want to tap into if you’re running for mayor,” said Eric Koch, managing principal at Precision Strategies, a Democratic consulting firm, and former director of communications for City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “So it makes sense to endorse the folks running against the IDC people because in terms of the activists and the people who are organizing against the IDC versus who is a Democratic primary voter in a mayoral election, there’s a pretty big overlap there.”</p> <p>It’s important to note that the IDC incumbents themselves have powerful backers, including unions like 1199 SEIU, many of which are in Cuomo’s corner as well.</p> <p>While Stringer and Johnson have decided to buck Cuomo and those involved in the unity deal, other likely 2021 mayoral candidates have not. Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. is a Cuomo ally and closely aligned with the Bronx Democratic Party apparatus, led by its chair, Assemblymember Marcos Crespo, and its former chair, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, who signed onto the unity deal.</p> <p>Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams has been critical of Cuomo over the course of years, but has not made endorsements yet. His approach is complicated given his alliance with Senator Hamilton, formerly of the IDC. Adams did invite Nixon early in her campaign to tour a Brooklyn NYCHA complex and the two went to Albany Houses together. The Brooklyn borough president has <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7648-max-murphy-podcast-brooklyn-borough-president-eric-adams" target="_blank" rel="noopener">voiced strong criticism of Cuomo</a>, but has not embraced Nixon beyond the NYCHA visit, nor has he weighed in on Williams’ challenge to Hochul or the IDC races.</p> <p>“They’re looking at these challengers and their districts, I’m sure, to sort of see what kind of coalition they would need to put together,” Greer said. “When they run for mayor, Andrew Cuomo may or may not still be in office...but a great campaign marketing slogan is, ‘We fight Albany. We fight Albany to make sure that New York City gets the money and resources we need.’”</p> <p>“Sure they care, but it’s also a very strategic move,” Greer said, “to make sure that they’re distancing themselves from the status quo to say that, ‘When tough decisions needed to be made, I didn’t just go along to get along.’”</p> <p><strong>Statewide Case</strong><br />Public Advocate Letitia James, who is running in the Democratic primary for attorney general (and had been a likely 2021 mayoral candidate), is charting a course similar to Diaz, Jr., but with a much higher profile given her bid for statewide office. James quickly jumped at the opportunity when Eric Schneiderman resigned the post after facing allegations of physical and emotional abuse by several intimate partners. Seen as an early frontrunner, with the blessing of the state Democratic Party and the governor, James rejected the possible endorsement of the progressive Working Families Party that had helped launch her political career as a City Council member.</p> <p>The WFP has been closely aligned with the IDC challengers, as well as Nixon and Williams, supporting their insurgent bids for office, while James has in the past supported at least one member of the IDC, Senator Alcantara, though she has come to criticize the IDC and called for reunification well before her attorney general bid.</p> <p>“I would essentially argue, if I were in these progressive groups that used to support Tish very openly, well what now gives you progressive bonafides?,” said Greer. “So her messaging has to be very clear for her supporters. Because they have progressive choices.”</p> <p>“Two days after Schneiderman resigned, it was essentially reported that Tish would be heir apparent and that’s the way much of the press is writing about the race...and I don’t necessarily see that to be the case anymore,” she added.</p> <p>James faces three other primary contenders: former Cuomo aide Leecia Eve, congressional Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, and Fordham Law professor Zephyr Teachout, who challenged Cuomo in the 2014 Democratic primary and lost, but managed to get a significant share of the vote, at 34 percent. Teachout, like Nixon, has been severely critical of the IDC and <a href="https://makenytrueblue.org/grassroots-coalition-formed-to-endorse-idc-challengers/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">endorsed</a> five IDC challengers as part of the TrueBlueNY coalition months before the attorney general position became available and she decided to run. When Schneiderman resigned, Teachout was at the time Nixon’s campaign treasurer, a position she has since vacated to run for attorney general.</p> <p>Among the four Democratic attorney general candidates, Teachout is undoubtedly furthest to the left. At the WFP nominating convention, delegates chose Nixon and Williams, and opted to install a placeholder for attorney general until, they hope, either James or Teachout emerges from the Democratic primary victorious and is offered the additional ballot line for the general election. James has expressed her love for the WFP despite initially shunning its endorsement and has said she believes everyone will coalesce again in the near future.</p> <p>While James has aligned herself with Cuomo and his unity deal, Teachout, who endorsed Ocasio-Cortez in May, is staunchly behind IDC challengers and has recently campaigned alongside Williams.</p> <p>Koch doesn’t believe her endorsements will give her a significant edge, however. “I do think that there might be some benefit in endorsing some of the folks against the IDC because that’s where the progressive energy is,” he said, “but at the end of the day, people who are voting for attorney general aren’t basing their votes on just the issue of the IDC, they’re coming at it from a much more holistic spectrum.”</p> <p>The experts who spoke with Gotham Gazette noted the significance of the ‘Ocasio effect.’ Both Teachout and Nixon had endorsed Ocasio-Cortez in the run up to the congressional primary and seized on her victory to emphasize that progressive challengers can defeat machine-backed incumbents. “There’s very much a movement that’s energizing the left and politicians who ignore it or who fall too far behind are really doing so at their own peril,” said a Democratic consultant who wished to remain unnamed so he could speak freely.</p> <p>“There’s certainly a lot of parallels between Cuomo and Crowley, you know, representing the old guard, like white-working class Democrats,” said the Democratic consultant. “But that being said, I wouldn’t read too much into the Ocasio win as portending a loss for Cuomo because Cuomo’s still extraordinarily popular among African-Americans, particularly African-American women, and Cynthia Nixon hasn’t to this point been able to show the ability to break into that base of support, which is really what you’re seeing here. It’s a combination of minority voters and very young, progressive voters.”</p> <p>For their part, top Nixon campaign aides cite Ocasio-Cortez’s victory in expressing their belief that public opinion polls can no longer be trusted to capture the progressive energy that has largely emerged since the 2016 election of Donald Trump.</p> <p>Koch said activist pressure against the IDC and its supporters has been building but “at the state level, people are gonna hedge their bets a little bit more because, one way or another, they’re gonna have to work with some of these folks.”</p> <p>Greer seemed more bullish about how far the momentum behind Ocasio-Cortez would carry into state elections. She conceded that Democrats across New York are not as progressive as they are in New York City, but that the win gave a much-needed confidence boost to IDC challengers as well as Nixon and Teachout, not to mention obvious opportunities to add volunteers and donors. “It’ll be fascinating to see if, all of a sudden, Cynthia and Zephyr can ride the coattails of Alexandria,” she said, a notion that, before the congressional primary, “would’ve sounded like crazy talk.”</p> <p>“But the reality here is...Alexandria’s getting national attention for the message that Cynthia and Zephyr have been championing,” she said.</p> <p><strong>Other Democrats Choose</strong><br />Virtually every elected Democrat in New York is expected to pick sides: Cuomo or Nixon; Hochul or Williams; James or Teachout or Eve or Maloney; Klein or Biaggi; and so on.</p> <p>Mayor Bill de Blasio, one of the most powerful Democratic officials in the state by virtue of his position, has so far stayed on the sidelines, regularly declining to comment on the 2018 New York elections, but promising to weigh in at some point. Given that Nixon was a fervent supporter during his winning 2013 campaign for mayor and again supported him for reelection in 2017, and his ongoing feud with Cuomo, de Blasio’s decision in the gubernatorial race is especially interesting. In 2014, before their feud had really escalated, de Blasio backed Cuomo for reelection, even helping broker him the Working Families Party nomination. He has indicated it did not work out as planned.</p> <p>Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, not facing a primary challenge himself, has backed Cuomo and Hochul, but says he’s likely staying out of the attorney general primary, even though the state party is behind James.</p> <p>While many Democratic officials have already or are expected to back Cuomo, there are local electeds who, beholden neither to the governor nor their respective Democratic machines, have chosen to break from the pack. New York City Council Member Carlos Menchaca was the first of his colleagues to endorse Nixon’s bid for governor, and Council Members Jimmy Van Bramer and Antonio Reynoso later followed suit. Williams, running for lieutenant governor, is also an apparent Nixon backer, but the two have not formally linked up as a ticket, so to speak (the two positions are elected separately in party primaries, but together in the general election).</p> <p>Reynoso and Menchaca, and Council Members Brad Lander, Adrienne Adams, and I. Daneek Miller have also backed Williams for lieutenant governor. Williams has also announced the backing of state Senator Kevin Parker, and across the state he has picked up endorsements from legislators in Albany and Syracuse, while Nixon was recently endorsed by more than a dozen Hudson Valley elected officials.</p> <p>Nixon’s most prominent recent endorsement came from the former City Council Speaker, Mark-Viverito, a progressive in the same vein who drew parallels between Nixon and Ocasio-Cortez. “These two boldly progressive women share the same values and priorities,” Mark-Viverito <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/ny-oped-why-i-back-cynthia-nixon-20180629-story.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">wrote in the New York Daily News</a>. Nixon also cross-endorsed with Ocasio-Cortez the day before the congressional primary, and in the last week, has done so with Ramos, who is seeking to unseat Senator Peralta, formerly of the IDC, and Julia Salazar, a democratic socialist challenging Democratic state Senator Martin Dilan in northern Brooklyn.</p> <p>On Wednesday, Senator Hamilton's challenger, Myrie, announced four new endorsements from Assembly Members Walter Mosley, Diana Richardson, Jo Anne Simon and Robert Carroll, who represent Central Brooklyn. &nbsp; &nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Democratic Unity?</strong><br />“It goes back to the basic tenet: a house divided against itself can’t stand,” said Andrea Stewart-Cousins, the Senate Democratic leader, in <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7745-andrea-stewart-cousins-on-democratic-unity-and-the-value-of-primaries" target="_blank" rel="noopener">a recent appearance on the Max &amp; Murphy podcast</a> hosted by Gotham Gazette and City Limits. The senator was addressing the Senate unity deal and whether Klein would be loyal to it. “How are we gonna do this?...I’m not gonna be sitting there having people somehow undermine the efforts that we have to be a team. That’s always been the case.”</p> <p>Sen. Michael Gianaris, the chair of the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/ny-pol-idc-gianaris-breakaway-democrats-peralta-20180708-story.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">has ruled out endorsing</a> the former IDC members, according to the Daily News -- Gianaris has had a long running feud with Klein, the IDC head -- and has been noncommittal on whether he may support their opponents. “Everyone seems to be on their best behavior on both sides and there seems to be genuine effort to work cooperatively and get to where we’re trying to go, so hopefully that continues,” Gianaris said in <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7758:democratic-campaign-chief-even-a-blue-trickle-will-flip-state-senate" target="_blank" rel="noopener">a separate Max &amp; Murphy interview</a>.</p> <p>Lieutenant Governor Hochul, in her own <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7768-hochul-divided-democratic-party-only-benefits-republicans" target="_blank" rel="noopener">appearance on the podcast</a>, said Democrats attacking each other only serve to polarize voters and that the party would be better off expending that energy against Republicans. “We can all be purists about everything when we have a Democrat in the White House, when we have the House and the Senate, and when we have New York State Legislature,” she said. “Then we can fight each other on the nuances.”</p> <p>Along with the decisions facing them now about who to back in the primaries, one major question for New York Democrats is what happens after September 13, and whether party members can coalesce for the general election. Republicans have completely avoided primaries for all four state-level statewide races of governor, lieutenant governor, comptroller, and attorney general, and in virtually every state Senate district held by an incumbent.</p> <p>“I don’t think [the Democratic Party] fractures,” said the Democratic consultant who didn’t want to be named. “I think that’s the evolution of the party. That’s the direction that you’re seeing the party, and it’s largely driven by a local reaction to federal issues. It’s very largely a reaction to Trump on a number of things, on immigration, on labor, on health care, on taxes, on women’s rights.” &nbsp;</p> <p>The frustration with Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress, the consultant said, means that Democrats want “a much more aggressive stance and debate” from their own leaders.</p> <p>Koch from Precision Strategies said the party will likely come together in the face of a larger enemy to sweep the major statewide races -- governor and lieutenant governor, attorney general, and comptroller. “The Democratic Party has always been a very big tent party, it’s always run the ideological spectrum from the progressive wing through to a more centrist wing,” he said, “and that’s why the party has been successful…After these primaries are done, Democrats will come together and unite because there are bigger threats and what unites us is definitely stronger than what divides us.”</p> <p>“I think the relationships will by and large repair themselves,” Koch added, “I suspect that after the primary, folks will get together and hash out whatever needs to be hashed out.”</p> <p>

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by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p> <p>Note - This story has been updated to include mention of endorsements received by Zellnor Myrie from four state Assembly members.</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/corey-johnson-jessica-ramos-robert-jackson-cityhall.jpg" alt="corey johnson jessica ramos robert jackson cityhall" width="600" height="475" /></p> <p>Corey Johnson endorses IDC challengers (photo: Gotham Gazette)</p> <hr /> <p>As progressives aggressively attempt to wrest control of the Democratic Party from the hands of those they call centrists and establishment politicians, elected Democrats across New York find themselves in an unenviable position. Abiding by their self-professed progressive values to support insurgent Democratic primary challengers could mean bucking the state party establishment and its leader, Governor Andrew Cuomo, while, on the other hand, toeing the party line risks opening them up to accusations of hypocrisy and betrayal -- and perhaps even a future primary challenge -- levelled by an enraged and engaged base.</p> <p>A battle that played out during the 2016 presidential primary between Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and former Secretary of State and New York Senator Hillary Clinton has only intensified since Donald Trump’s victory. The 2018 election cycle is offering many opportunities across the country for Democrats, elected officials and otherwise, to decide between what is essentially two wings of the party. The Democrats’ season of choosing is easier for some than others, but many prominent party figures find themselves in uncomfortable situations. At stake is nothing short of political careers, the fate of activist organizations, the policy agenda and future of the Democratic Party, the outcomes of current and prospective elections, and their aftermaths in terms of government policies that affect millions.</p> <p>At the center in New York is Cuomo, his lieutenant governor, Kathy Hochul, and the state Senate’s erstwhile Independent Democratic Conference, eight senators who chose power over party for as many as seven years by empowering Republican control of the legislative chamber, what has been the GOP’s only stronghold in state government. In April, the renegades returned to the fold with assurances from Cuomo, who long tolerated and allegedly enabled their infidelity, that their seats were secure, at least from other Democrats. Under the accord brokered by the governor just after a new state budget was passed, the state Democratic Party machinery, fellow state-level electeds, and prominent labor unions would support these former IDC members -- who were time and again blamed for obstructing the passage of progressive legislation -- and would refuse to aid their challengers.</p> <p>Though Cuomo and the former IDC members have professed support for progressive priorities -- voting, elections and campaign finance reform, criminal justice reform, women’s reproductive rights, stronger rent regulations, immigrant protections, to name a few -- they have failed to pass legislation along those lines, blaming staunch opposition by Senate Republicans. Their progressive challengers instead say they have been the obstacles to progressive bills by empowering Republicans.</p> <p>Cuomo, at the top of the Democratic ticket, faces an aggressive challenge from actress and activist Cynthia Nixon in the primary. Nixon’s candidacy, from the left of Cuomo, parallels Fordham Law professor Zephyr Teachout’s unsuccessful gubernatorial bid four years ago, except it comes in a more heightened atmosphere of displeasure on the left following Trump’s election, amid disappointment with Cuomo’s relatively centrist record, and with increased awareness of the IDC. Nixon also has other advantages Teachout lacked, like name recognition and fundraising prowess, though Cuomo has worked over the past four years to make amends with some of his past critics, such as those in certain labor unions.</p> <p>A similar fight is being replicated in the race for lieutenant governor, between incumbent Democrat Hochul and her progressive challenger, Jumaane Williams, a City Council member from Brooklyn. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>All eight former IDC members face primary challenges ahead of the September 13 vote. Five of those districts fall squarely in New York City while another is split between the Bronx and Westchester, with two others upstate.</p> <p>In District 13, in Queens, Jessica Ramos is taking on Sen. Jose Peralta; in Brooklyn’s District 20, Zellnor Myrie is challenging Sen. Jesse Hamilton; on Manhattan’s west side, Robert Jackson is going up against Sen. Marisol Alcantara; in District 23, which spans Staten Island’s north shore and parts of Brooklyn, Jasmine Robinson is confronting Sen. Diane Savino; in District 11 in Queens, Sen. Tony Avella will again face former city Comptroller John Liu, who earned 47 percent in a losing 2014 bid to unseat Avella; and in District 34 that covers Westchester and the Bronx, Alessandra Biaggi is attempting to unseat the leader of the what was the IDC, Sen. Jeff Klein, who now serves as the deputy leader in the unified Senate Democratic Conference.</p> <p>Outside the city, in District 38 that spreads across Rockland and Westchester, Sen. David Carlucci faces a challenge from Julie Goldberg; and in District 53 covering Madison County and parts of Onondaga and Oneida, Sen. David Valesky faces Rachel May in the primary.</p> <p>For Cuomo and the state party, maintaining what Democratic seats they have in the Senate is paramount as they seek to flip the chamber by picking up more. Republicans have recently held control of the 63-seat chamber by a one-seat margin thanks to their own ranks and a single rogue conservative Senator from Brooklyn, Simcha Felder, a registered Democrat who won his most recent reelection on the Democratic, Republican, and Conservative Party lines -- Felder is also facing a Democratic primary this year, from Blake Morris.</p> <p>But while they also want to see Republican seats flipped in November, many progressive activists insist that the party needs to elect better, “bluer Democrats” than Cuomo, Hochul, and the former IDC members. Nixon has explained that it is her motivation to run for governor, saying that in the age of Trump not any Democrat will do. Cuomo and his supporters argue that not only has the governor been a progressive powerhouse, but that Democratic energy of all kinds would be better spent working in concert to flip red seats to blue.</p> <p>That argument has largely fallen on deaf ears among those displeased with Cuomo, Klein, and other Democratic incumbents.</p> <p>The shiny veneer of the Senate Democrat reunification deal and its accompanying pact of nonaggression has seemed to be wearing off as challengers to the IDC senators pick up endorsements from top Democratic incumbents and, in one candidate’s case, from an influential labor union that helped broker the merger of the Senate Democrats. Meanwhile, Nixon and Williams have picked up far more support from elected officials and organizations than Teachout and her lieutenant governor running mate, Tim Wu, achieved in 2014.</p> <p>Democrats across the spectrum are taking sides, and others will be expected to do so over the next few months, in decisions that could be determinative for those they endorse, for their own political trajectories, and for the larger map of New York’s Democratic world currently dominated by one set of elected and appointed officials, consultants, labor leaders, and the networks of power they control.</p> <p><strong>Mayoral Hopefuls</strong><br />On June 28, New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson announced his endorsement of Biaggi, Jackson, Ramos, and Myrie, providing them a boost at a time when progressives were already feeling emboldened by the congressional primary victory of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez earlier that week.</p> <p>A declared democratic socialist with a deeply progressive campaign platform, Ocasio-Cortez defeated Democratic giant Rep. Joe Crowley, a ten-term incumbent and the powerful boss of the Queens Democratic Party who was among the chief drivers of the Senate Democratic reunification and a possible next speaker of the House of Representatives. The stunning upset shook the foundations of the Democratic Party and undercut the conventional wisdom of the primacy of incumbents and machine politics, and its ramifications will likely be dissected for years. In New York, it’s immediate effects were quickly felt. Johnson, who had endorsed Crowley in the race, insisted the result did not affect his decision to endorse the four IDC challengers, which he said was in the works for months, but that did not stop observers from drawing a connection.</p> <p>“Whether it’s in Washington, D.C., or in Albany, the status quo isn’t working and that is why I’m here today in supporting four amazing candidates,” Johnson said at the steps of City Hall. “They are Democrats, they are progressive Democrats, they will caucus with the Democrats and they will support all the issues that Democrats support.” On Saturday, Johnson said on Twitter that he was ready to fully support Liu. At a Tuesday event in support of Biaggi, Johnson <a href="https://twitter.com/CoreyinNYC/status/1016874584489021440" target="_blank" rel="noopener">said</a>, “It feels really good to be able to tell the truth and for too long, people were not telling the truth about the IDC and the damage that they’ve done to the state of New York. And that damage was all in their own self-interest, putting their own self-interest above the entire state of New York.” &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>In a statement following Johnson’s endorsement, Barbara Brancaccio, a spokesperson for Klein, said, “Frankly we are surprised that our opponent would accept the endorsement of such a radioactive figure coming on the heels of his endorsement of Joe Crowley. We are sure that Johnson will do for this challenger, exactly what he did for Joe Crowley."</p> <p>At the same time, Johnson has also endorsed Governor Cuomo for reelection over Nixon, who continues to criticize the governor for supporting the IDC and whose platform largely resembles those of the IDC opponents. She shares stark similarities with Ocasio-Cortez and others seeking to upend incumbent Democrats who insurgents believe are too close to big-money interests and not in touch with their constituents who most need them. Nixon has begun to align herself more closely with those IDC challengers, cross-endorsing with Ramos earlier this week, for example.</p> <p>The same day as Johnson’s endorsement of the IDC challengers, 32BJ SEIU, the prominent building workers union, endorsed Biaggi, though their president Hector Figueroa had months ago been among those who proposed the Democratic reunification deal and the union is among several that have endorsed Cuomo and had also backed Crowley. “Jeff Klein and the IDC have empowered obstructionist Republicans set on blocking key reforms for too long,” Figueroa said <a href="http://www.seiu32bj.org/press-releases/32bj-seiu-endorses-biaggi/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">in a statement</a> announcing the endorsement. “Never again.”</p> <p>And just one day prior, New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer also endorsed Biaggi, a few months after he had already announced his support for Ramos and Jackson. The endorsements by Stringer, well before the Ocasio-Cortez win and its initial fallout, have won him much praise from liberal activists.</p> <p>Since his union came out for Biaggi, Figueroa has also addressed the Democratic split in New York, <a href="https://twitter.com/figue32bj/status/1016043465493372930" target="_blank" rel="noopener">writing on Twitter</a>, “Dems upset about IDC folks being primaried ‘for it may lead to the GOP winning a majority of NY Senate’ do not blame the ‘left’. The ones to be blamed are IDC incumbents themselves &amp; those STILL defending them. IDC betrayed voters creating a big political mess. Time to clean up.”</p> <p>Along with the number and strength of the progressive primary challengers to established incumbents and Ocasio-Cortez’s win, these endorsements, headlining still others, are the clearest cracks in the Democratic foundation that Cuomo and other state leaders have tried to set.</p> <p>“I think it’s fascinating because we do see a lack of cohesion as to whether or not people are going to support the IDC members or their challengers,” said Dr. Christina Greer, a political science professor at Fordham University. “And I think this debate is sort of reflective of a larger debate that’s going on in the Democratic Party, for the soul of the Democratic party…‘Are we centrist, conservative-leaning Democrats or are we progressive?’”</p> <p>To some, these moves may smack of political opportunism, particularly in the case of Johnson, who is supporting progressives on the one hand while propping up establishment centrists like Crowley and Cuomo on the other. But in the New York political landscape, Greer said these endorsements are equally driven by philosophical considerations as they are by pragmatic ones. “These are politicians…I think that they can genuinely care about an issue and I think that they can also be calculating and strategic about it,” she said.</p> <p>For some, there is also a difference between backing a less experienced candidate for state Senate based on ideological reasons as opposed to the chief executive of the state.</p> <p>Both Johnson and Stringer are widely expected to run for mayor in 2021, the next city election cycle, when Mayor Bill de Blasio will be term-limited out of office, and tapping the progressive energy that Ocasio-Cortez rode to power, and that is now propelling Nixon, Williams, the IDC challengers, and others, would likewise boost their own political fortunes.</p> <p>“I think in the Democratic primary, the progressive energy in the city, that’s what you want to tap into if you’re running for mayor,” said Eric Koch, managing principal at Precision Strategies, a Democratic consulting firm, and former director of communications for City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “So it makes sense to endorse the folks running against the IDC people because in terms of the activists and the people who are organizing against the IDC versus who is a Democratic primary voter in a mayoral election, there’s a pretty big overlap there.”</p> <p>It’s important to note that the IDC incumbents themselves have powerful backers, including unions like 1199 SEIU, many of which are in Cuomo’s corner as well.</p> <p>While Stringer and Johnson have decided to buck Cuomo and those involved in the unity deal, other likely 2021 mayoral candidates have not. Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. is a Cuomo ally and closely aligned with the Bronx Democratic Party apparatus, led by its chair, Assemblymember Marcos Crespo, and its former chair, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, who signed onto the unity deal.</p> <p>Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams has been critical of Cuomo over the course of years, but has not made endorsements yet. His approach is complicated given his alliance with Senator Hamilton, formerly of the IDC. Adams did invite Nixon early in her campaign to tour a Brooklyn NYCHA complex and the two went to Albany Houses together. The Brooklyn borough president has <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7648-max-murphy-podcast-brooklyn-borough-president-eric-adams" target="_blank" rel="noopener">voiced strong criticism of Cuomo</a>, but has not embraced Nixon beyond the NYCHA visit, nor has he weighed in on Williams’ challenge to Hochul or the IDC races.</p> <p>“They’re looking at these challengers and their districts, I’m sure, to sort of see what kind of coalition they would need to put together,” Greer said. “When they run for mayor, Andrew Cuomo may or may not still be in office...but a great campaign marketing slogan is, ‘We fight Albany. We fight Albany to make sure that New York City gets the money and resources we need.’”</p> <p>“Sure they care, but it’s also a very strategic move,” Greer said, “to make sure that they’re distancing themselves from the status quo to say that, ‘When tough decisions needed to be made, I didn’t just go along to get along.’”</p> <p><strong>Statewide Case</strong><br />Public Advocate Letitia James, who is running in the Democratic primary for attorney general (and had been a likely 2021 mayoral candidate), is charting a course similar to Diaz, Jr., but with a much higher profile given her bid for statewide office. James quickly jumped at the opportunity when Eric Schneiderman resigned the post after facing allegations of physical and emotional abuse by several intimate partners. Seen as an early frontrunner, with the blessing of the state Democratic Party and the governor, James rejected the possible endorsement of the progressive Working Families Party that had helped launch her political career as a City Council member.</p> <p>The WFP has been closely aligned with the IDC challengers, as well as Nixon and Williams, supporting their insurgent bids for office, while James has in the past supported at least one member of the IDC, Senator Alcantara, though she has come to criticize the IDC and called for reunification well before her attorney general bid.</p> <p>“I would essentially argue, if I were in these progressive groups that used to support Tish very openly, well what now gives you progressive bonafides?,” said Greer. “So her messaging has to be very clear for her supporters. Because they have progressive choices.”</p> <p>“Two days after Schneiderman resigned, it was essentially reported that Tish would be heir apparent and that’s the way much of the press is writing about the race...and I don’t necessarily see that to be the case anymore,” she added.</p> <p>James faces three other primary contenders: former Cuomo aide Leecia Eve, congressional Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, and Fordham Law professor Zephyr Teachout, who challenged Cuomo in the 2014 Democratic primary and lost, but managed to get a significant share of the vote, at 34 percent. Teachout, like Nixon, has been severely critical of the IDC and <a href="https://makenytrueblue.org/grassroots-coalition-formed-to-endorse-idc-challengers/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">endorsed</a> five IDC challengers as part of the TrueBlueNY coalition months before the attorney general position became available and she decided to run. When Schneiderman resigned, Teachout was at the time Nixon’s campaign treasurer, a position she has since vacated to run for attorney general.</p> <p>Among the four Democratic attorney general candidates, Teachout is undoubtedly furthest to the left. At the WFP nominating convention, delegates chose Nixon and Williams, and opted to install a placeholder for attorney general until, they hope, either James or Teachout emerges from the Democratic primary victorious and is offered the additional ballot line for the general election. James has expressed her love for the WFP despite initially shunning its endorsement and has said she believes everyone will coalesce again in the near future.</p> <p>While James has aligned herself with Cuomo and his unity deal, Teachout, who endorsed Ocasio-Cortez in May, is staunchly behind IDC challengers and has recently campaigned alongside Williams.</p> <p>Koch doesn’t believe her endorsements will give her a significant edge, however. “I do think that there might be some benefit in endorsing some of the folks against the IDC because that’s where the progressive energy is,” he said, “but at the end of the day, people who are voting for attorney general aren’t basing their votes on just the issue of the IDC, they’re coming at it from a much more holistic spectrum.”</p> <p>The experts who spoke with Gotham Gazette noted the significance of the ‘Ocasio effect.’ Both Teachout and Nixon had endorsed Ocasio-Cortez in the run up to the congressional primary and seized on her victory to emphasize that progressive challengers can defeat machine-backed incumbents. “There’s very much a movement that’s energizing the left and politicians who ignore it or who fall too far behind are really doing so at their own peril,” said a Democratic consultant who wished to remain unnamed so he could speak freely.</p> <p>“There’s certainly a lot of parallels between Cuomo and Crowley, you know, representing the old guard, like white-working class Democrats,” said the Democratic consultant. “But that being said, I wouldn’t read too much into the Ocasio win as portending a loss for Cuomo because Cuomo’s still extraordinarily popular among African-Americans, particularly African-American women, and Cynthia Nixon hasn’t to this point been able to show the ability to break into that base of support, which is really what you’re seeing here. It’s a combination of minority voters and very young, progressive voters.”</p> <p>For their part, top Nixon campaign aides cite Ocasio-Cortez’s victory in expressing their belief that public opinion polls can no longer be trusted to capture the progressive energy that has largely emerged since the 2016 election of Donald Trump.</p> <p>Koch said activist pressure against the IDC and its supporters has been building but “at the state level, people are gonna hedge their bets a little bit more because, one way or another, they’re gonna have to work with some of these folks.”</p> <p>Greer seemed more bullish about how far the momentum behind Ocasio-Cortez would carry into state elections. She conceded that Democrats across New York are not as progressive as they are in New York City, but that the win gave a much-needed confidence boost to IDC challengers as well as Nixon and Teachout, not to mention obvious opportunities to add volunteers and donors. “It’ll be fascinating to see if, all of a sudden, Cynthia and Zephyr can ride the coattails of Alexandria,” she said, a notion that, before the congressional primary, “would’ve sounded like crazy talk.”</p> <p>“But the reality here is...Alexandria’s getting national attention for the message that Cynthia and Zephyr have been championing,” she said.</p> <p><strong>Other Democrats Choose</strong><br />Virtually every elected Democrat in New York is expected to pick sides: Cuomo or Nixon; Hochul or Williams; James or Teachout or Eve or Maloney; Klein or Biaggi; and so on.</p> <p>Mayor Bill de Blasio, one of the most powerful Democratic officials in the state by virtue of his position, has so far stayed on the sidelines, regularly declining to comment on the 2018 New York elections, but promising to weigh in at some point. Given that Nixon was a fervent supporter during his winning 2013 campaign for mayor and again supported him for reelection in 2017, and his ongoing feud with Cuomo, de Blasio’s decision in the gubernatorial race is especially interesting. In 2014, before their feud had really escalated, de Blasio backed Cuomo for reelection, even helping broker him the Working Families Party nomination. He has indicated it did not work out as planned.</p> <p>Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, not facing a primary challenge himself, has backed Cuomo and Hochul, but says he’s likely staying out of the attorney general primary, even though the state party is behind James.</p> <p>While many Democratic officials have already or are expected to back Cuomo, there are local electeds who, beholden neither to the governor nor their respective Democratic machines, have chosen to break from the pack. New York City Council Member Carlos Menchaca was the first of his colleagues to endorse Nixon’s bid for governor, and Council Members Jimmy Van Bramer and Antonio Reynoso later followed suit. Williams, running for lieutenant governor, is also an apparent Nixon backer, but the two have not formally linked up as a ticket, so to speak (the two positions are elected separately in party primaries, but together in the general election).</p> <p>Reynoso and Menchaca, and Council Members Brad Lander, Adrienne Adams, and I. Daneek Miller have also backed Williams for lieutenant governor. Williams has also announced the backing of state Senator Kevin Parker, and across the state he has picked up endorsements from legislators in Albany and Syracuse, while Nixon was recently endorsed by more than a dozen Hudson Valley elected officials.</p> <p>Nixon’s most prominent recent endorsement came from the former City Council Speaker, Mark-Viverito, a progressive in the same vein who drew parallels between Nixon and Ocasio-Cortez. “These two boldly progressive women share the same values and priorities,” Mark-Viverito <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/ny-oped-why-i-back-cynthia-nixon-20180629-story.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">wrote in the New York Daily News</a>. Nixon also cross-endorsed with Ocasio-Cortez the day before the congressional primary, and in the last week, has done so with Ramos, who is seeking to unseat Senator Peralta, formerly of the IDC, and Julia Salazar, a democratic socialist challenging Democratic state Senator Martin Dilan in northern Brooklyn.</p> <p>On Wednesday, Senator Hamilton's challenger, Myrie, announced four new endorsements from Assembly Members Walter Mosley, Diana Richardson, Jo Anne Simon and Robert Carroll, who represent Central Brooklyn. &nbsp; &nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Democratic Unity?</strong><br />“It goes back to the basic tenet: a house divided against itself can’t stand,” said Andrea Stewart-Cousins, the Senate Democratic leader, in <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7745-andrea-stewart-cousins-on-democratic-unity-and-the-value-of-primaries" target="_blank" rel="noopener">a recent appearance on the Max &amp; Murphy podcast</a> hosted by Gotham Gazette and City Limits. The senator was addressing the Senate unity deal and whether Klein would be loyal to it. “How are we gonna do this?...I’m not gonna be sitting there having people somehow undermine the efforts that we have to be a team. That’s always been the case.”</p> <p>Sen. Michael Gianaris, the chair of the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/ny-pol-idc-gianaris-breakaway-democrats-peralta-20180708-story.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">has ruled out endorsing</a> the former IDC members, according to the Daily News -- Gianaris has had a long running feud with Klein, the IDC head -- and has been noncommittal on whether he may support their opponents. “Everyone seems to be on their best behavior on both sides and there seems to be genuine effort to work cooperatively and get to where we’re trying to go, so hopefully that continues,” Gianaris said in <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7758:democratic-campaign-chief-even-a-blue-trickle-will-flip-state-senate" target="_blank" rel="noopener">a separate Max &amp; Murphy interview</a>.</p> <p>Lieutenant Governor Hochul, in her own <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7768-hochul-divided-democratic-party-only-benefits-republicans" target="_blank" rel="noopener">appearance on the podcast</a>, said Democrats attacking each other only serve to polarize voters and that the party would be better off expending that energy against Republicans. “We can all be purists about everything when we have a Democrat in the White House, when we have the House and the Senate, and when we have New York State Legislature,” she said. “Then we can fight each other on the nuances.”</p> <p>Along with the decisions facing them now about who to back in the primaries, one major question for New York Democrats is what happens after September 13, and whether party members can coalesce for the general election. Republicans have completely avoided primaries for all four state-level statewide races of governor, lieutenant governor, comptroller, and attorney general, and in virtually every state Senate district held by an incumbent.</p> <p>“I don’t think [the Democratic Party] fractures,” said the Democratic consultant who didn’t want to be named. “I think that’s the evolution of the party. That’s the direction that you’re seeing the party, and it’s largely driven by a local reaction to federal issues. It’s very largely a reaction to Trump on a number of things, on immigration, on labor, on health care, on taxes, on women’s rights.” &nbsp;</p> <p>The frustration with Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress, the consultant said, means that Democrats want “a much more aggressive stance and debate” from their own leaders.</p> <p>Koch from Precision Strategies said the party will likely come together in the face of a larger enemy to sweep the major statewide races -- governor and lieutenant governor, attorney general, and comptroller. “The Democratic Party has always been a very big tent party, it’s always run the ideological spectrum from the progressive wing through to a more centrist wing,” he said, “and that’s why the party has been successful…After these primaries are done, Democrats will come together and unite because there are bigger threats and what unites us is definitely stronger than what divides us.”</p> <p>“I think the relationships will by and large repair themselves,” Koch added, “I suspect that after the primary, folks will get together and hash out whatever needs to be hashed out.”</p> <p>

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by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p> <p>Note - This story has been updated to include mention of endorsements received by Zellnor Myrie from four state Assembly members.</p>
City Council Charter Revision Commission Takes Shape 2018-07-09T04:00:00+00:00 2018-07-09T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7795:city-council-charter-revision-commission-takes-shape Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/gg-city-council-hearing-committee.jpg" alt="gg city council hearing committee" width="600" height="401" /></p> <p>(Sofie Hecht/Gotham Gazette)</p> <hr /> <p>The New York City Council’s commission to review the city charter -- a separate effort from an existing commission created by Mayor Bill de Blasio -- has been fully appointed and is set to begin its work next Monday, July 16.</p> <p>The City Council passed a bill in April, spearheaded by Public Advocate Letitia James, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, and Council Speaker Corey Johnson, to create a commission to analyze the city’s governing document and recommend potentially significant changes to the structure and functions of city government. Although any such commission is allowed to consider the entire composition of the city charter, Brewer, James, and Johnson have pointed to a few broad priority areas including improving the city’s land use policies, strengthening the City Council’s ‘advise and consent’ role in approving mayoral appointees to city agencies and commissions, enhancing the Council’s power over city budgeting, and implementing stronger oversight of the mayoral administration.</p> <p>At a <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7547-city-council-hears-bill-on-charter-revision-commission" target="_blank" rel="noopener">March 17 hearing</a> on the bill, James emphasized that the commission could achieve groundbreaking improvements similar to the 1989 charter commission that upended the entire structure of city government. She contrasted it with the mayor’s approach, which she said suffers from “predetermined conclusions, a narrow focus on issues within Council authority, and a timeline far too tight to do the job right.”</p> <p>The Council’s commission, composed of 15 members, is meant to carry out its work over the next 16 months, presenting ballot referenda to voters during the November 2019 general election. The mayor’s commission, created by de Blasio through an executive order, has a shorter timeline and a narrower brief, and will be proposing its own recommendations on Election Day this year.</p> <p>The Council commission’s members include four appointees of the speaker, including the chair, four mayoral appointees, and one each chosen by the public advocate, the comptroller, and the five borough presidents.</p> <p>Johnson picked Gail Benjamin, the former director of the Council’s land use division, to serve as commission chair. His other appointees include Lilliam Barrios-Paoli, a former de Blasio deputy mayor and the former chair of NYC Health+Hospitals, the city’s municipal hospital system; Rev. Clinton Miller, pastor at Brown Memorial Baptist Church; and Merryl Tisch, the former chancellor of the state Board of Regents and current vice chair of the SUNY board of trustees.</p> <p>“The appointment of these members of the Charter Revision Commission is the first step towards bringing the City Charter into the 21st century,” said Johnson in a statement announcing the full commission. “All of these individuals represent civic engagement at its best, and I am so grateful for the time they are giving to make our city a better place…The City Charter is in good hands.”</p> <p>In a phone interview, Benjamin said she was "excited" about leading the commission. "This is kind of the culmination of my career as a government official,” she said. Benjamin drew a distinction between the work she will oversee and that of the mayor's commission, which is expected to release its preliminary report soon.&nbsp;“This commission has a much broader mandate than the mayor gave to his commission and I think that all of the 15 members who have been appointed are excited about the broadness of the mandate and the ability to really examine how this city functions governmentally and what we can do to move it into the future," she said. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>Though the two commissions will not overlap substantially, Benjamin said the Council's commission will review the testimony presented to the mayor's commission, as well as the reports and testimony from every commission convened since 1989. "There are lots of issues that [the mayor's] commission, I don’t think, has had the time to really flesh out," she said, citing city procurement practices, non-citizen voting and instant run-off voting as a few examples. "I would think that we would want to look at those kinds of issues also and that we’ll have the time to do that because we’ve got over a year and not just a few months," Benjamin said.&nbsp;</p> <p>Mayor de Blasio mostly plucked his Council commission appointees from his own administration. Among them are Lisette Camilo, the commissioner of the Department of Citywide Administrative Services; Paula Gavin, the city’s Chief Service Officer who heads up NYC Service, the agency tasked with promoting volunteering efforts; Lindsay Greene, a senior advisor to Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen; and former City Planning chief Carl Weisbrod, currently a de Blasio appointee to the MTA board.</p> <p>Most other elected officials had already announced their selections to the commission or had quietly appointed members with little publicity. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>In late May, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams chose former City Council Member and repeat mayoral contender Sal Albanese to represent him, citing Albanese’s outspoken positions on campaign finance reform. “I have called for, and am reiterating again now, for 100 percent publicly-financed campaigns where every candidate has an equal footing to express their ideas,” Adams had written in testimony at the March hearing before the Council’s Committee on Governmental Operations, which was considering the charter commission bill. “Fully publicly-financed elections will see more women running for office at a time when representation in the City Council has decreased since our last election. Fully publicly-financed campaigns have shown to increase minority participation in elected politics. A fully-funded system also takes away the quid pro quo corruption and will help restore faith in our electoral system.”</p> <p>Albanese, in a statement accompanying his appointment, said, “Charter revision is an opportunity to make our government more democratic and responsive to its citizens.” During his 2017 primary challenge to de Blasio, Albanese’s top policy plank was the “democracy vouchers” program that would drastically reduce the influence of private money in municipal elections.</p> <p>Last month, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. appointed former City Council Member James Vacca to the commission. “Jimmy has a wealth of experience in government and cares deeply about our borough and our city,” Diaz Jr. <a href="https://twitter.com/rubendiazjr/status/1005117342802640896?s=21" target="_blank" rel="noopener">tweeted</a> at the time.</p> <p>More recently, Public Advocate Letitia James tapped Sateesh Nori, a Legal Aid Society attorney, as her representative on the commission. “Mr. Nori brings with him the wisdom and expertise necessary for the role, as well as a lifelong commitment to public service and to his City,” James said in a statement. Comptroller Scott Stringer’s pick was Alison Hirsh, the vice president of 32BJ SEIU, the prominent property services workers union.</p> <p>Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer chose her general counsel and director of land use, James Caras, to serve as her representative. “After three decades, it’s time for a thorough, expert review of how our City Charter is serving New Yorkers and how to make our government work better,” Brewer said in Monday’s announcement.</p> <p>Queens Borough President Melinda Katz picked Eduardo Cordero Sr. And Staten Island Borough President James Oddo’s choice is Richmond County Clerk Stephen Fiala, who was previously a City Council member.</p> <p>While the Council-created commission is about to begin its work and will take an extended timeline before its ballot proposals are announced next year, the mayoral charter revision commission is in the final two months before it makes its recommendations public by early September, in time to be included on the November ballot. That commission recently made clear its areas of focus -- voting and election reform, campaign finance reform, land use decision-making, community boards, civic engagement, and independent redistricting -- <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/component/tags/tag/charter-revision-commission" target="_blank" rel="noopener">and held relevant expert hearings</a>.</p> <p>[Read: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7780-chair-says-charter-commission-will-step-in-where-politics-has-slowed-reform" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Chair Says Mayoral Charter Commission Will Step In Where Politics Has Slowed Reform</a>]</p> <p>

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by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/gg-city-council-hearing-committee.jpg" alt="gg city council hearing committee" width="600" height="401" /></p> <p>(Sofie Hecht/Gotham Gazette)</p> <hr /> <p>The New York City Council’s commission to review the city charter -- a separate effort from an existing commission created by Mayor Bill de Blasio -- has been fully appointed and is set to begin its work next Monday, July 16.</p> <p>The City Council passed a bill in April, spearheaded by Public Advocate Letitia James, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, and Council Speaker Corey Johnson, to create a commission to analyze the city’s governing document and recommend potentially significant changes to the structure and functions of city government. Although any such commission is allowed to consider the entire composition of the city charter, Brewer, James, and Johnson have pointed to a few broad priority areas including improving the city’s land use policies, strengthening the City Council’s ‘advise and consent’ role in approving mayoral appointees to city agencies and commissions, enhancing the Council’s power over city budgeting, and implementing stronger oversight of the mayoral administration.</p> <p>At a <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7547-city-council-hears-bill-on-charter-revision-commission" target="_blank" rel="noopener">March 17 hearing</a> on the bill, James emphasized that the commission could achieve groundbreaking improvements similar to the 1989 charter commission that upended the entire structure of city government. She contrasted it with the mayor’s approach, which she said suffers from “predetermined conclusions, a narrow focus on issues within Council authority, and a timeline far too tight to do the job right.”</p> <p>The Council’s commission, composed of 15 members, is meant to carry out its work over the next 16 months, presenting ballot referenda to voters during the November 2019 general election. The mayor’s commission, created by de Blasio through an executive order, has a shorter timeline and a narrower brief, and will be proposing its own recommendations on Election Day this year.</p> <p>The Council commission’s members include four appointees of the speaker, including the chair, four mayoral appointees, and one each chosen by the public advocate, the comptroller, and the five borough presidents.</p> <p>Johnson picked Gail Benjamin, the former director of the Council’s land use division, to serve as commission chair. His other appointees include Lilliam Barrios-Paoli, a former de Blasio deputy mayor and the former chair of NYC Health+Hospitals, the city’s municipal hospital system; Rev. Clinton Miller, pastor at Brown Memorial Baptist Church; and Merryl Tisch, the former chancellor of the state Board of Regents and current vice chair of the SUNY board of trustees.</p> <p>“The appointment of these members of the Charter Revision Commission is the first step towards bringing the City Charter into the 21st century,” said Johnson in a statement announcing the full commission. “All of these individuals represent civic engagement at its best, and I am so grateful for the time they are giving to make our city a better place…The City Charter is in good hands.”</p> <p>In a phone interview, Benjamin said she was "excited" about leading the commission. "This is kind of the culmination of my career as a government official,” she said. Benjamin drew a distinction between the work she will oversee and that of the mayor's commission, which is expected to release its preliminary report soon.&nbsp;“This commission has a much broader mandate than the mayor gave to his commission and I think that all of the 15 members who have been appointed are excited about the broadness of the mandate and the ability to really examine how this city functions governmentally and what we can do to move it into the future," she said. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>Though the two commissions will not overlap substantially, Benjamin said the Council's commission will review the testimony presented to the mayor's commission, as well as the reports and testimony from every commission convened since 1989. "There are lots of issues that [the mayor's] commission, I don’t think, has had the time to really flesh out," she said, citing city procurement practices, non-citizen voting and instant run-off voting as a few examples. "I would think that we would want to look at those kinds of issues also and that we’ll have the time to do that because we’ve got over a year and not just a few months," Benjamin said.&nbsp;</p> <p>Mayor de Blasio mostly plucked his Council commission appointees from his own administration. Among them are Lisette Camilo, the commissioner of the Department of Citywide Administrative Services; Paula Gavin, the city’s Chief Service Officer who heads up NYC Service, the agency tasked with promoting volunteering efforts; Lindsay Greene, a senior advisor to Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen; and former City Planning chief Carl Weisbrod, currently a de Blasio appointee to the MTA board.</p> <p>Most other elected officials had already announced their selections to the commission or had quietly appointed members with little publicity. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>In late May, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams chose former City Council Member and repeat mayoral contender Sal Albanese to represent him, citing Albanese’s outspoken positions on campaign finance reform. “I have called for, and am reiterating again now, for 100 percent publicly-financed campaigns where every candidate has an equal footing to express their ideas,” Adams had written in testimony at the March hearing before the Council’s Committee on Governmental Operations, which was considering the charter commission bill. “Fully publicly-financed elections will see more women running for office at a time when representation in the City Council has decreased since our last election. Fully publicly-financed campaigns have shown to increase minority participation in elected politics. A fully-funded system also takes away the quid pro quo corruption and will help restore faith in our electoral system.”</p> <p>Albanese, in a statement accompanying his appointment, said, “Charter revision is an opportunity to make our government more democratic and responsive to its citizens.” During his 2017 primary challenge to de Blasio, Albanese’s top policy plank was the “democracy vouchers” program that would drastically reduce the influence of private money in municipal elections.</p> <p>Last month, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. appointed former City Council Member James Vacca to the commission. “Jimmy has a wealth of experience in government and cares deeply about our borough and our city,” Diaz Jr. <a href="https://twitter.com/rubendiazjr/status/1005117342802640896?s=21" target="_blank" rel="noopener">tweeted</a> at the time.</p> <p>More recently, Public Advocate Letitia James tapped Sateesh Nori, a Legal Aid Society attorney, as her representative on the commission. “Mr. Nori brings with him the wisdom and expertise necessary for the role, as well as a lifelong commitment to public service and to his City,” James said in a statement. Comptroller Scott Stringer’s pick was Alison Hirsh, the vice president of 32BJ SEIU, the prominent property services workers union.</p> <p>Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer chose her general counsel and director of land use, James Caras, to serve as her representative. “After three decades, it’s time for a thorough, expert review of how our City Charter is serving New Yorkers and how to make our government work better,” Brewer said in Monday’s announcement.</p> <p>Queens Borough President Melinda Katz picked Eduardo Cordero Sr. And Staten Island Borough President James Oddo’s choice is Richmond County Clerk Stephen Fiala, who was previously a City Council member.</p> <p>While the Council-created commission is about to begin its work and will take an extended timeline before its ballot proposals are announced next year, the mayoral charter revision commission is in the final two months before it makes its recommendations public by early September, in time to be included on the November ballot. That commission recently made clear its areas of focus -- voting and election reform, campaign finance reform, land use decision-making, community boards, civic engagement, and independent redistricting -- <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/component/tags/tag/charter-revision-commission" target="_blank" rel="noopener">and held relevant expert hearings</a>.</p> <p>[Read: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7780-chair-says-charter-commission-will-step-in-where-politics-has-slowed-reform" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Chair Says Mayoral Charter Commission Will Step In Where Politics Has Slowed Reform</a>]</p> <p>

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by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
Democratic Candidates for Attorney General Plant Campaign Flags 2018-06-28T04:00:00+00:00 2018-06-28T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7773:democratic-candidates-for-attorney-general-plant-campaign-flags Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/james-teachout-eve-maloney-prim.jpg" alt="james teachout eve maloney prim" width="600" height="197" /><br />Tish James, Sean Patrick Maloney, Leecia Eve &amp; Zephyr Teachout (l-r)</p> <hr /> <p>The race for attorney general has quickly become one of the most competitive and intriguing of the 2018 election cycle in New York. After Democrat Eric Schneiderman resigned in May following revelations that he had physically and emotionally abused intimate partners, the question immediately arose of who would replace him. With a regularly-scheduled election -- that Schneiderman was expected to win handily -- just months away, potential candidates had a short time to decide whether to run.</p> <p>After some wrangling, four Democrats decided to throw their hats in the ring: Public Advocate Letitia James; U.S. Representative Sean Patrick Maloney; Verizon executive Leecia Eve; and Fordham law professor Zephyr Teachout. In the early legs of the campaign, each candidate has staked out a different profile and rationale for their run. By and large, they say they would continue much of the work started by Schneiderman and being continued by his replacement, Barbara Underwood, the former solicitor general who the state Legislature voted in as attorney general for the rest of the year and who declared she was not interested in running for election herself.</p> <p>Schneiderman built a substantial national profile for himself, especially for a state official, through his lawsuits against the Trump administration on matters such as the Muslim travel ban, the rollback of net neutrality, and the rescission of EPA climate regulations. Fighting the federal government aside, much of the ongoing, essential work of the attorney general is in areas of consumer protection, tenant protection, anti-corruption, and prosecution of fraud. It also serves as the state’s chief legal officer in representing New York in legal matters when the state is sued.</p> <p>Since the office was occupied by Eliot Spitzer, it has become a launching pad for gubernatorial hopefuls, like both Spitzer and Andrew Cuomo, and a space for publicity-minded prosecutors to combat Wall Street, using New York’s comparatively strong anti-fraud statutes such as the 1921 Martin Act. Spitzer, Cuomo, and Schneiderman all turned the office into one with a large political profile, weighing in on policy matters of all kinds. Schneiderman was largely seen as the frontrunner to win the next Democratic nomination for governor after Cuomo’s departure. His political career now appears over.</p> <p>After public opinion coalesced behind Underwood as Schneiderman’s logical replacement for the rest of the term, roughly ten potential Democratic candidates with interest in the position had to decide whether to launch a campaign ahead of the September primary and November general elections.</p> <p>James entered the race with clear frontrunner status, receiving endorsements from the State Democratic Party, Governor Andrew Cuomo, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, and many other figures, advocacy organizations, and labor unions. But the field was not cleared for her.</p> <p>James, reelected for a second and final term as public advocate -- the first woman of color to hold a citywide elected office -- in November of last year, is facing serious competition from Teachout, who has a lengthy legal resume and ran for governor in 2014 and Congress in 2016; Maloney, an attorney who worked in the Bill Clinton administration; and Eve, a former aide to Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton when each was a U.S. senator, and to Gov. Cuomo.</p> <p>Each of the four candidates has sought to define themselves in the early going of the primary, while other general election candidates await to see who is victorious in what promises to be an interesting and hard fought campaign. While James appears to be the early favorite, the race is also wide open, with each candidate possessing certain strengths and constituencies, and a lot still left to play out. The only <a href="https://www2.siena.edu/assets/files/news/SNY0618_Crosstabs.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">poll</a> of the race thus far, from Siena College on June 13, showed James leading the pack with 28 percent, Teachout with 18 percent, and Eve with 4 percent; the poll was conducted before Maloney officially entered the race, and 47 percent of those surveyed were unsure.</p> <p>On Wednesday, Teachout publicly challenged her primary competitors to a series of six broadcast (television and radio) debates around the state. Eve appeared to accept the invitation in a tweet, <a href="https://twitter.com/LeeciaEve/status/1012333664485732353" target="_blank" rel="noopener">writing</a>, in part, “I look forward to engaging with my fellow candidates in as many debates as possible, in every region of NYS.”</p> <p>A campaign spokesperson for James, Delaney Kempner, said, "Tish is prepared to debate anybody and everybody, and she will do that as soon as the Board of Elections certifies candidates." James is the only candidate of the four guaranteed a ballot spot given the support she received at the state convention -- the others must collect petition signatures to qualify.</p> <p>Asked about the debate challenge, a spokesperson for Maloney said, “The Congressman is focused on reuniting separated immigrant families and stopping the Trump plan to reverse Roe v. Wade by stacking the Supreme Court. It seems premature and presumptuous to be demanding something before you even earn a spot on the ballot. Of course, he’ll eagerly debate at the appropriate time.”</p> <p>A closer look at how each candidate is framing their attorney general candidacies in the early going:</p> <p><strong>Tish James</strong><br />Schneiderman’s resignation opened up James’ dream position. While the public advocate had been eyeing a 2021 run for New York City mayor, her legal background, including work under Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, laid the groundwork for the possibility of an attorney general run at some point. The opportunity came earlier than anyone expected. Upon the vacancy, James was in the running to win legislative appointment, but a variety of factors led to Underwood taking the helm of the office and James running in the primary.</p> <p>James quickly became the Democratic establishment choice, aligning herself with Cuomo and initially spurning her longtime allies and the governor’s longtime foes in the Working Families Party. The WFP decided to announce its support for both James and Teachout, with the hopes that it will give its general election ballot line to one of the two if either is victorious in the Democratic contest -- and James has expressed love for the WFP and optimism that it will all work out.</p> <p>She’s promising to be “the people’s lawyer” and to continue her career-long fight for social justice. Her early campaign has shown signs of stress, though, with regard to the close relationship with Cuomo, and calls for the next attorney general to be an independent voice from the governor, especially on matters of government ethics.</p> <p>After law school, James started her career at the Legal Aid Society, where she worked as a public defender. She became an assistant attorney general under Spitzer, where she said she fought consumer fraud and predatory lending. She has also served as Assembly counsel. James was elected to the New York City Council in 2003, then as public advocate in 2013. She would be the first woman (along with her opponents Teachout and Eve) and woman of color (along with Eve) to be elected attorney general, and the first woman of color to hold statewide elected office in New York.</p> <p>As public advocate, James has been notably more litigious and legislative than her three predecessors in the office that provides its occupant much latitude to define priorities. She has sued the city to, among other things, block charter school colocation and to get air conditioning on school buses for students with disabilities, and she sued the Staten Island District Attorney to obtain testimony to the grand jury that declined to indict Daniel Pantaleo, the officer whose chokehold killed Eric Garner.</p> <p>However, all three of those lawsuits, like several others during her tenure, were tossed by the courts, ruling that she had no standing to sue. James’ school bus suit had been allowed to go forward by a Manhattan Supreme Court judge in 2016, and she then won a settlement later that year for her two co-plaintiffs, children with disabilities who did not have access to air conditioned buses. However, the lawsuit to be tossed in 2017 by Manhattan Appellate Court.</p> <p>James has also had her share of victories as public advocate. Ten pieces of legislation for which she was the primary sponsor have passed through the City Council and been signed by the mayor. Most notably, she championed the cause of prohibiting employers from asking questions about salary history, a move aimed at gender pay equity, which became law in May of 2017. She was also the primary advocate in government for making public school lunches free for all students, which came to fruition last September. Her office publishes an annual list of the “100 worst landlords” in the city, a practice started by her predecessor, Bill de Blasio.</p> <p>She has also had some successful lawsuits, such as her <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/08/nyregion/new-york-to-pay-thousands-to-10-tenants-purged-from-rent-freeze-program.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">suit</a> against the city’s finance department over allegedly wrongfully kicking seniors off the rent freeze rolls; the suit was settled for $130,000, covering legal fees and damages for ten plaintiffs.</p> <p>James has pushed body cameras for police officers and gun control; and she has voiced support for legalizing recreational marijuana, breaking with de Blasio and Cuomo in the process, though Cuomo appears on the verge of a similar stance. She has strong ties to labor unions and to advocacy groups. Notably, some of the progressive Democratic clubs and activists that are set on defeating Cuomo in this year’s primary are supporting James, even as she has allied herself with the governor.</p> <p>On her campaign <a href="https://www.tishjames2018.com/why-im-running/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">website</a>, James lists her top priorities for the attorney general position as “protect consumers from abuse,” “be a strong voice for our children,” “protect our environment for future generations,” “enforce equal pay for equal work,” “defend civil rights for all,” and “protect NYers from the Trump administration’s unlawful actions.”</p> <p>In an <a href="https://www.wqxr.org/story/june-14-2018-public-advocate-tish-james/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">appearance</a> on WQXR’s Capitol Pressroom, James said that she would focus her tenure on issues like consumer fraud and housing discrimination.</p> <p>James also took a decidedly softer stance on the Joint Committee on Public Ethics (JCOPE), a state-level oversight body, than Teachout. James she said that while the organization has issues, she didn’t think that its executive director should resign without an investigation, as Teachout has called for. In response to calls for a new Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption, which are being made by Teachout, as well as Cuomo opponents in the gubernatorial race, James also indicated she doesn’t see it as a priority. She has broadly promised, however, to fight corruption in government if elected attorney general.</p> <p><strong>Zephyr Teachout</strong><br />Teachout, who unsuccessfully challenged Cuomo in 2014, is staking her bid for attorney general on four planks: “fighting Trump, taking on Albany corruption, fighting corporate scams and corporate monopolies, and spearheading the moral argument against mass incarceration.” She had been serving as the treasurer for the Cynthia Nixon campaign before resigning gto run for attorney general.</p> <p>Of all the candidates on the Democratic side, Teachout has been the most critical of Schneiderman’s tenure, saying that he failed to adequately pursue corruption by Trump in both his businesses and government; in state government; and in the real estate and financial sectors.</p> <p>In her <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JnDbm48-bnQ&amp;feature=youtu.be" target="_blank" rel="noopener">launch video</a>, Teachout notes two instances where she contacted Schneiderman’s office but achieved no results. The first was in 2014, when she asked him to use “the full power of his office” to investigate Cuomo’s shutting down of the anti-corruption Moreland Commission. The second was when, soon after the 2016 election, Teachout asked Schneiderman to join a lawsuit in federal court against Trump regarding the emoluments clause to the U.S. Constitution. Schneiderman did not join the suit. Teachout says that she will join the suit if she wins.</p> <p>In referring to Schneiderman’s apparent inaction on the Moreland Commission, Teachout said that the state needs an “independent” attorney general, possibly a dig at James, who was endorsed by Cuomo and the State Democratic Party. Teachout also referred to herself as an “outsider” from the notorious political culture in Albany. She has long-called for major changes to state government ethics and campaign finance laws, as well as voting and election laws.</p> <p>Teachout claims that the Moreland Commission to investigate corruption in state government was never disbanded, though it was “shuttered” at the behest of Cuomo, when it was beginning to investigate donors close to the governor, according to reports. In a statement, Teachout said that she would restart the commission’s work as attorney general.</p> <p>“The Executive Order 106 creating the Moreland Commission was never formally rescinded. That means that the Attorney General’s power and responsibility to investigate New York corruption persists.” She promised to “use those powers to take on corruption in NYS government.”</p> <p>Teachout’s platform also includes a heavy emphasis on “trust-busting” and combating corporate mergers such as those of for-profit hospitals and others similar to the cable giant Spectrum. She further hopes to use the office to push criminal justice reforms such as eliminating cash bail and reform of New York’s discovery laws.</p> <p>As the candidate seemingly furthest to the left, most critical of Cuomo, and least beholden to institutional forces, Teachout is attempting to ride a progressive wave that is fed up with the status quo. On Wednesday, Teachout highlighted that in May she had endorsed Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the self-avowed democratic socialist who pulled off a shocking upset of Rep. Joe Crowley in Tuesday’s congressional primary. Teachout emailed her supporters celebrating the win and pumping up her own campaign. Of Ocasio-Cortez she wrote, “Her win is a testament to what’s possible when you run a bold, progressive campaign that speaks directly to voters.” She added: “What’s more exciting? We’re next.”</p> <p>Like with the calls for the head of JCOPE to resign and the debate challenge, Teachout is running an aggressive campaign that often forces her opponents to respond to her.</p> <p>“I am running to be the next Attorney General of New York. I accept no corporate PAC money, and no LLC money,” Teachout <a href="https://twitter.com/ZephyrTeachout" target="_blank" rel="noopener">tweeted </a>on Thursday. “This is not complicated: No Attorney General should take money from corporations she is charged with overseeing &amp; investigating &amp; whose lawbreaking she may prosecute.”</p> <p><strong>Leecia Eve</strong><br />Eve, a former candidate for lieutenant governor, advisor to Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden, and Cuomo administration official; and now a lobbyist for Verizon, has so far run a subdued attorney general campaign, though she says that that will soon change.</p> <p>Eve formerly served in the Cuomo administration as general counsel to Empire State Development, the state’s main economic development organization. She told Gotham Gazette that, despite repeated ethical concerns within the state’s larger economic development apparatus, she was never aware of any corruption within ESD. She currently serves on the board of the Port Authority in a volunteer capacity.</p> <p>Asked on <a href="https://www.wcny.org/june-22-2018-leecia-eve/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Capitol Pressroom</a> whether having worked for the governor diminished her independence, Eve said that she was not the candidate endorsed by the governor or the state Democratic Party. “I have not spoken to the governor about my race,” she said.</p> <p>She said she would fight endemic corruption in the state as attorney general, and that convening another Moreland Commission should be “under serious consideration.” However, she demurred on harsh criticism of JCOPE or its embattled chair, Seth Agata, whom she has worked with. “Certainly in all my dealings with him,” she said, referring to her time serving in the Cuomo administration, “he conducted himself with integrity and honor.” On “Capitol Pressroom,” she implied that Teachout was “grabbing headlines” by calling for Agata to resign and criticizing JCOPE.</p> <p>Like James, she would be the first woman of color to serve in statewide elected office. Asked on Capitol Pressroom by host Susan Arbetter whether it was important for New York’s “top law enforcement official” to be a woman of color, as laid out by activist groups like Black Lives Matter, Eve agreed that it matters, but implied that experience should not be discounted. Eve claims that she is the most qualified candidate running for the post.</p> <p>In Washington, she worked for the law firm Covington and Burling, followed by a stint at Biden’s senatorial office, where she worked on the Violence Against Women Act and the controversial 1996 immigration bill. Afterwards, she served as counsel to New York Senator Hillary Clinton. She ran for lieutenant governor in 2006 but was passed over for the ticket with Eliot Spitzer, then the attorney general; she wistfully notes that if she, rather than David Paterson, had been selected, she would have become the governor given Spitzer’s resignation in disgrace.</p> <p>Eve has <a href="https://twitter.com/LeeciaEve/status/1003328382141173760" target="_blank" rel="noopener">won</a> the endorsement of the Erie County Democratic Party, the local party organization for her hometown of Buffalo (she now lives in Manhattan). She applied for the legislative appointment, but withdrew her name in favor of appointing Underwood. She claims that she has seen the inside of a courtroom more than any other candidate, part of why she says she is the most qualified to serve as attorney general.</p> <p>Eve told Gotham Gazette she will soon be transitioning to full-time campaigning, and told Gotham Gazette that she would continue Schneiderman’s lawsuit against the federal government over the rollback of net neutrality, despite her employment by telecommunications giant Verizon. Eve claimed that Verizon supports net neutrality, though the company <a href="https://www.verizon.com/about/news/verizon-supports-fcc-plan-reverse-title-ii-classification" target="_blank" rel="noopener">publicly supported</a> the FCC’s rollback of net neutrality rules and <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2017/11/06/how-verizon-and-comcast-are-working-to-ensure-states-dont-pass-their-own-net-neutrality-bills/?utm_term=.5b3dd11650a5" target="_blank" rel="noopener">lobbied states</a> not to pass their own net neutrality provisions.</p> <p>“I am unequivocally, 1000 percent in support of net neutrality,” she said, noting that Verizon takes the position that companies should not engage in “throttling, blocking, or engaged in paid prioritization.” She said she would support the continuation of the lawsuit, but would extricate herself from the actual lawsuit. “What is most appropriate for me is to recuse myself from that process, but I would expect extraordinary lawyer of the Office of Attorney General to continue that work.”</p> <p><strong>Sean Patrick Maloney</strong><br />Rep. Maloney, of Putnam County is running for attorney general while also running for reelection to Congress. He was not challenged in the congressional primary on Tuesday, and has said if he wins the AG primary in September, he will then remove himself from the general election ballot for the House. It is a curious, controversial move that has his Republican congressional opponent calling foul and some Democrats scratching their heads. It also has his legal team and other lawyers preparing for a possibly challenge to his ballot status.</p> <p>Maloney ran for AG in 2006, coming in a distant third place in the primary, in a race won by Andrew Cuomo. Before that run and his subsequent successful congressional campaign, he worked for multiple Manhattan law firms, as well as in Albany and Washington.</p> <p>As a candidate, Maloney has placed significant focus on combating the Trump administration on issues such as LGBTQ rights. Maloney, who is gay, said the issue is “personal for me and my family.”</p> <p>Maloney also stated on Twitter that he is in favor of net neutrality, saying that its repeal “will only hurt New York families.” Further, he endorsed the legalization of marijuana.</p> <p>In contrast to the more liberal James and Teachout, Maloney is more of a centrist, perhaps a necessity to represent a congressional district won by Donald Trump. He is a member of the “<a href="https://newdemocratcoalition-himes.house.gov/about" target="_blank" rel="noopener">New Democrat Coalition</a>,” which describes itself as “a solutions oriented coalition seeking to bridge the gap between left and right by challenging outmoded partisan approaches to governing.”</p> <p>In an <a href="https://www.wnyc.org/story/june-7-2018-rep-sean-patrick-maloney/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">appearance</a> on the Capitol Pressroom soon after announcing his campaign, he said he would continue a lawsuit against Exxon filed by Schneiderman and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, and would also seek to hold pharmaceutical companies accountable for the spread of opioids. On ICE in courtrooms, his answer was evasive. Maloney also boasted of having passed “30 bipartisan bills” in his congressional tenure on behalf of veterans, farmers, and trains, and that he played a significant role in stopping “Trumpcare” in Congress.</p> <p>If elected attorney general, Maloney’s adversarialism toward Wall Street may not be as strong as James’ or Teachout’s would be. <a href="https://twitter.com/Public_Citizen/status/1001868579141283840" target="_blank" rel="noopener">According to Public Citizen</a>, Maloney has accepted almost $500,000 in donations from the financial sector over the course of his career. In May, he voted for a bill in Congress that significantly diminished the post-recession regulations on the financial sector.</p> <p>Like his opponents, Maloney is taking a hard line on Trump. On Capitol Pressroom he said he is “playing defense” in Congress, but that he wishes to “get on offense” against Trump as attorney general.</p> <p>“Changes to the<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SupremeCourt?src=hash" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> #SupremeCourt</a> mean our democratic values are under attack by this president and his goons that think we should roll back rights on minorities, women, and<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/LGBTQ?src=hash" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> #LGBTQ</a> people,” Maloney tweeted on Thursday. “We can’t let it stand. Fight back with me,” he added, with a link to his campaign website.</p> <p>Maloney’s campaign declined an interview request from Gotham Gazette, citing a busy schedule in Washington, D.C.</p> <p>The winner of the Democratic primary for attorney general will face Republican nominee Keith Wofford and other smaller party candidates in the general election.</p> <p>

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by Ben Brachfeld, Gotham Gazette

Read more by this writer.

</p> <p>Ben Max contributed to this article.</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/james-teachout-eve-maloney-prim.jpg" alt="james teachout eve maloney prim" width="600" height="197" /><br />Tish James, Sean Patrick Maloney, Leecia Eve &amp; Zephyr Teachout (l-r)</p> <hr /> <p>The race for attorney general has quickly become one of the most competitive and intriguing of the 2018 election cycle in New York. After Democrat Eric Schneiderman resigned in May following revelations that he had physically and emotionally abused intimate partners, the question immediately arose of who would replace him. With a regularly-scheduled election -- that Schneiderman was expected to win handily -- just months away, potential candidates had a short time to decide whether to run.</p> <p>After some wrangling, four Democrats decided to throw their hats in the ring: Public Advocate Letitia James; U.S. Representative Sean Patrick Maloney; Verizon executive Leecia Eve; and Fordham law professor Zephyr Teachout. In the early legs of the campaign, each candidate has staked out a different profile and rationale for their run. By and large, they say they would continue much of the work started by Schneiderman and being continued by his replacement, Barbara Underwood, the former solicitor general who the state Legislature voted in as attorney general for the rest of the year and who declared she was not interested in running for election herself.</p> <p>Schneiderman built a substantial national profile for himself, especially for a state official, through his lawsuits against the Trump administration on matters such as the Muslim travel ban, the rollback of net neutrality, and the rescission of EPA climate regulations. Fighting the federal government aside, much of the ongoing, essential work of the attorney general is in areas of consumer protection, tenant protection, anti-corruption, and prosecution of fraud. It also serves as the state’s chief legal officer in representing New York in legal matters when the state is sued.</p> <p>Since the office was occupied by Eliot Spitzer, it has become a launching pad for gubernatorial hopefuls, like both Spitzer and Andrew Cuomo, and a space for publicity-minded prosecutors to combat Wall Street, using New York’s comparatively strong anti-fraud statutes such as the 1921 Martin Act. Spitzer, Cuomo, and Schneiderman all turned the office into one with a large political profile, weighing in on policy matters of all kinds. Schneiderman was largely seen as the frontrunner to win the next Democratic nomination for governor after Cuomo’s departure. His political career now appears over.</p> <p>After public opinion coalesced behind Underwood as Schneiderman’s logical replacement for the rest of the term, roughly ten potential Democratic candidates with interest in the position had to decide whether to launch a campaign ahead of the September primary and November general elections.</p> <p>James entered the race with clear frontrunner status, receiving endorsements from the State Democratic Party, Governor Andrew Cuomo, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, and many other figures, advocacy organizations, and labor unions. But the field was not cleared for her.</p> <p>James, reelected for a second and final term as public advocate -- the first woman of color to hold a citywide elected office -- in November of last year, is facing serious competition from Teachout, who has a lengthy legal resume and ran for governor in 2014 and Congress in 2016; Maloney, an attorney who worked in the Bill Clinton administration; and Eve, a former aide to Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton when each was a U.S. senator, and to Gov. Cuomo.</p> <p>Each of the four candidates has sought to define themselves in the early going of the primary, while other general election candidates await to see who is victorious in what promises to be an interesting and hard fought campaign. While James appears to be the early favorite, the race is also wide open, with each candidate possessing certain strengths and constituencies, and a lot still left to play out. The only <a href="https://www2.siena.edu/assets/files/news/SNY0618_Crosstabs.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">poll</a> of the race thus far, from Siena College on June 13, showed James leading the pack with 28 percent, Teachout with 18 percent, and Eve with 4 percent; the poll was conducted before Maloney officially entered the race, and 47 percent of those surveyed were unsure.</p> <p>On Wednesday, Teachout publicly challenged her primary competitors to a series of six broadcast (television and radio) debates around the state. Eve appeared to accept the invitation in a tweet, <a href="https://twitter.com/LeeciaEve/status/1012333664485732353" target="_blank" rel="noopener">writing</a>, in part, “I look forward to engaging with my fellow candidates in as many debates as possible, in every region of NYS.”</p> <p>A campaign spokesperson for James, Delaney Kempner, said, "Tish is prepared to debate anybody and everybody, and she will do that as soon as the Board of Elections certifies candidates." James is the only candidate of the four guaranteed a ballot spot given the support she received at the state convention -- the others must collect petition signatures to qualify.</p> <p>Asked about the debate challenge, a spokesperson for Maloney said, “The Congressman is focused on reuniting separated immigrant families and stopping the Trump plan to reverse Roe v. Wade by stacking the Supreme Court. It seems premature and presumptuous to be demanding something before you even earn a spot on the ballot. Of course, he’ll eagerly debate at the appropriate time.”</p> <p>A closer look at how each candidate is framing their attorney general candidacies in the early going:</p> <p><strong>Tish James</strong><br />Schneiderman’s resignation opened up James’ dream position. While the public advocate had been eyeing a 2021 run for New York City mayor, her legal background, including work under Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, laid the groundwork for the possibility of an attorney general run at some point. The opportunity came earlier than anyone expected. Upon the vacancy, James was in the running to win legislative appointment, but a variety of factors led to Underwood taking the helm of the office and James running in the primary.</p> <p>James quickly became the Democratic establishment choice, aligning herself with Cuomo and initially spurning her longtime allies and the governor’s longtime foes in the Working Families Party. The WFP decided to announce its support for both James and Teachout, with the hopes that it will give its general election ballot line to one of the two if either is victorious in the Democratic contest -- and James has expressed love for the WFP and optimism that it will all work out.</p> <p>She’s promising to be “the people’s lawyer” and to continue her career-long fight for social justice. Her early campaign has shown signs of stress, though, with regard to the close relationship with Cuomo, and calls for the next attorney general to be an independent voice from the governor, especially on matters of government ethics.</p> <p>After law school, James started her career at the Legal Aid Society, where she worked as a public defender. She became an assistant attorney general under Spitzer, where she said she fought consumer fraud and predatory lending. She has also served as Assembly counsel. James was elected to the New York City Council in 2003, then as public advocate in 2013. She would be the first woman (along with her opponents Teachout and Eve) and woman of color (along with Eve) to be elected attorney general, and the first woman of color to hold statewide elected office in New York.</p> <p>As public advocate, James has been notably more litigious and legislative than her three predecessors in the office that provides its occupant much latitude to define priorities. She has sued the city to, among other things, block charter school colocation and to get air conditioning on school buses for students with disabilities, and she sued the Staten Island District Attorney to obtain testimony to the grand jury that declined to indict Daniel Pantaleo, the officer whose chokehold killed Eric Garner.</p> <p>However, all three of those lawsuits, like several others during her tenure, were tossed by the courts, ruling that she had no standing to sue. James’ school bus suit had been allowed to go forward by a Manhattan Supreme Court judge in 2016, and she then won a settlement later that year for her two co-plaintiffs, children with disabilities who did not have access to air conditioned buses. However, the lawsuit to be tossed in 2017 by Manhattan Appellate Court.</p> <p>James has also had her share of victories as public advocate. Ten pieces of legislation for which she was the primary sponsor have passed through the City Council and been signed by the mayor. Most notably, she championed the cause of prohibiting employers from asking questions about salary history, a move aimed at gender pay equity, which became law in May of 2017. She was also the primary advocate in government for making public school lunches free for all students, which came to fruition last September. Her office publishes an annual list of the “100 worst landlords” in the city, a practice started by her predecessor, Bill de Blasio.</p> <p>She has also had some successful lawsuits, such as her <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/08/nyregion/new-york-to-pay-thousands-to-10-tenants-purged-from-rent-freeze-program.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">suit</a> against the city’s finance department over allegedly wrongfully kicking seniors off the rent freeze rolls; the suit was settled for $130,000, covering legal fees and damages for ten plaintiffs.</p> <p>James has pushed body cameras for police officers and gun control; and she has voiced support for legalizing recreational marijuana, breaking with de Blasio and Cuomo in the process, though Cuomo appears on the verge of a similar stance. She has strong ties to labor unions and to advocacy groups. Notably, some of the progressive Democratic clubs and activists that are set on defeating Cuomo in this year’s primary are supporting James, even as she has allied herself with the governor.</p> <p>On her campaign <a href="https://www.tishjames2018.com/why-im-running/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">website</a>, James lists her top priorities for the attorney general position as “protect consumers from abuse,” “be a strong voice for our children,” “protect our environment for future generations,” “enforce equal pay for equal work,” “defend civil rights for all,” and “protect NYers from the Trump administration’s unlawful actions.”</p> <p>In an <a href="https://www.wqxr.org/story/june-14-2018-public-advocate-tish-james/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">appearance</a> on WQXR’s Capitol Pressroom, James said that she would focus her tenure on issues like consumer fraud and housing discrimination.</p> <p>James also took a decidedly softer stance on the Joint Committee on Public Ethics (JCOPE), a state-level oversight body, than Teachout. James she said that while the organization has issues, she didn’t think that its executive director should resign without an investigation, as Teachout has called for. In response to calls for a new Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption, which are being made by Teachout, as well as Cuomo opponents in the gubernatorial race, James also indicated she doesn’t see it as a priority. She has broadly promised, however, to fight corruption in government if elected attorney general.</p> <p><strong>Zephyr Teachout</strong><br />Teachout, who unsuccessfully challenged Cuomo in 2014, is staking her bid for attorney general on four planks: “fighting Trump, taking on Albany corruption, fighting corporate scams and corporate monopolies, and spearheading the moral argument against mass incarceration.” She had been serving as the treasurer for the Cynthia Nixon campaign before resigning gto run for attorney general.</p> <p>Of all the candidates on the Democratic side, Teachout has been the most critical of Schneiderman’s tenure, saying that he failed to adequately pursue corruption by Trump in both his businesses and government; in state government; and in the real estate and financial sectors.</p> <p>In her <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JnDbm48-bnQ&amp;feature=youtu.be" target="_blank" rel="noopener">launch video</a>, Teachout notes two instances where she contacted Schneiderman’s office but achieved no results. The first was in 2014, when she asked him to use “the full power of his office” to investigate Cuomo’s shutting down of the anti-corruption Moreland Commission. The second was when, soon after the 2016 election, Teachout asked Schneiderman to join a lawsuit in federal court against Trump regarding the emoluments clause to the U.S. Constitution. Schneiderman did not join the suit. Teachout says that she will join the suit if she wins.</p> <p>In referring to Schneiderman’s apparent inaction on the Moreland Commission, Teachout said that the state needs an “independent” attorney general, possibly a dig at James, who was endorsed by Cuomo and the State Democratic Party. Teachout also referred to herself as an “outsider” from the notorious political culture in Albany. She has long-called for major changes to state government ethics and campaign finance laws, as well as voting and election laws.</p> <p>Teachout claims that the Moreland Commission to investigate corruption in state government was never disbanded, though it was “shuttered” at the behest of Cuomo, when it was beginning to investigate donors close to the governor, according to reports. In a statement, Teachout said that she would restart the commission’s work as attorney general.</p> <p>“The Executive Order 106 creating the Moreland Commission was never formally rescinded. That means that the Attorney General’s power and responsibility to investigate New York corruption persists.” She promised to “use those powers to take on corruption in NYS government.”</p> <p>Teachout’s platform also includes a heavy emphasis on “trust-busting” and combating corporate mergers such as those of for-profit hospitals and others similar to the cable giant Spectrum. She further hopes to use the office to push criminal justice reforms such as eliminating cash bail and reform of New York’s discovery laws.</p> <p>As the candidate seemingly furthest to the left, most critical of Cuomo, and least beholden to institutional forces, Teachout is attempting to ride a progressive wave that is fed up with the status quo. On Wednesday, Teachout highlighted that in May she had endorsed Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the self-avowed democratic socialist who pulled off a shocking upset of Rep. Joe Crowley in Tuesday’s congressional primary. Teachout emailed her supporters celebrating the win and pumping up her own campaign. Of Ocasio-Cortez she wrote, “Her win is a testament to what’s possible when you run a bold, progressive campaign that speaks directly to voters.” She added: “What’s more exciting? We’re next.”</p> <p>Like with the calls for the head of JCOPE to resign and the debate challenge, Teachout is running an aggressive campaign that often forces her opponents to respond to her.</p> <p>“I am running to be the next Attorney General of New York. I accept no corporate PAC money, and no LLC money,” Teachout <a href="https://twitter.com/ZephyrTeachout" target="_blank" rel="noopener">tweeted </a>on Thursday. “This is not complicated: No Attorney General should take money from corporations she is charged with overseeing &amp; investigating &amp; whose lawbreaking she may prosecute.”</p> <p><strong>Leecia Eve</strong><br />Eve, a former candidate for lieutenant governor, advisor to Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden, and Cuomo administration official; and now a lobbyist for Verizon, has so far run a subdued attorney general campaign, though she says that that will soon change.</p> <p>Eve formerly served in the Cuomo administration as general counsel to Empire State Development, the state’s main economic development organization. She told Gotham Gazette that, despite repeated ethical concerns within the state’s larger economic development apparatus, she was never aware of any corruption within ESD. She currently serves on the board of the Port Authority in a volunteer capacity.</p> <p>Asked on <a href="https://www.wcny.org/june-22-2018-leecia-eve/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Capitol Pressroom</a> whether having worked for the governor diminished her independence, Eve said that she was not the candidate endorsed by the governor or the state Democratic Party. “I have not spoken to the governor about my race,” she said.</p> <p>She said she would fight endemic corruption in the state as attorney general, and that convening another Moreland Commission should be “under serious consideration.” However, she demurred on harsh criticism of JCOPE or its embattled chair, Seth Agata, whom she has worked with. “Certainly in all my dealings with him,” she said, referring to her time serving in the Cuomo administration, “he conducted himself with integrity and honor.” On “Capitol Pressroom,” she implied that Teachout was “grabbing headlines” by calling for Agata to resign and criticizing JCOPE.</p> <p>Like James, she would be the first woman of color to serve in statewide elected office. Asked on Capitol Pressroom by host Susan Arbetter whether it was important for New York’s “top law enforcement official” to be a woman of color, as laid out by activist groups like Black Lives Matter, Eve agreed that it matters, but implied that experience should not be discounted. Eve claims that she is the most qualified candidate running for the post.</p> <p>In Washington, she worked for the law firm Covington and Burling, followed by a stint at Biden’s senatorial office, where she worked on the Violence Against Women Act and the controversial 1996 immigration bill. Afterwards, she served as counsel to New York Senator Hillary Clinton. She ran for lieutenant governor in 2006 but was passed over for the ticket with Eliot Spitzer, then the attorney general; she wistfully notes that if she, rather than David Paterson, had been selected, she would have become the governor given Spitzer’s resignation in disgrace.</p> <p>Eve has <a href="https://twitter.com/LeeciaEve/status/1003328382141173760" target="_blank" rel="noopener">won</a> the endorsement of the Erie County Democratic Party, the local party organization for her hometown of Buffalo (she now lives in Manhattan). She applied for the legislative appointment, but withdrew her name in favor of appointing Underwood. She claims that she has seen the inside of a courtroom more than any other candidate, part of why she says she is the most qualified to serve as attorney general.</p> <p>Eve told Gotham Gazette she will soon be transitioning to full-time campaigning, and told Gotham Gazette that she would continue Schneiderman’s lawsuit against the federal government over the rollback of net neutrality, despite her employment by telecommunications giant Verizon. Eve claimed that Verizon supports net neutrality, though the company <a href="https://www.verizon.com/about/news/verizon-supports-fcc-plan-reverse-title-ii-classification" target="_blank" rel="noopener">publicly supported</a> the FCC’s rollback of net neutrality rules and <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2017/11/06/how-verizon-and-comcast-are-working-to-ensure-states-dont-pass-their-own-net-neutrality-bills/?utm_term=.5b3dd11650a5" target="_blank" rel="noopener">lobbied states</a> not to pass their own net neutrality provisions.</p> <p>“I am unequivocally, 1000 percent in support of net neutrality,” she said, noting that Verizon takes the position that companies should not engage in “throttling, blocking, or engaged in paid prioritization.” She said she would support the continuation of the lawsuit, but would extricate herself from the actual lawsuit. “What is most appropriate for me is to recuse myself from that process, but I would expect extraordinary lawyer of the Office of Attorney General to continue that work.”</p> <p><strong>Sean Patrick Maloney</strong><br />Rep. Maloney, of Putnam County is running for attorney general while also running for reelection to Congress. He was not challenged in the congressional primary on Tuesday, and has said if he wins the AG primary in September, he will then remove himself from the general election ballot for the House. It is a curious, controversial move that has his Republican congressional opponent calling foul and some Democrats scratching their heads. It also has his legal team and other lawyers preparing for a possibly challenge to his ballot status.</p> <p>Maloney ran for AG in 2006, coming in a distant third place in the primary, in a race won by Andrew Cuomo. Before that run and his subsequent successful congressional campaign, he worked for multiple Manhattan law firms, as well as in Albany and Washington.</p> <p>As a candidate, Maloney has placed significant focus on combating the Trump administration on issues such as LGBTQ rights. Maloney, who is gay, said the issue is “personal for me and my family.”</p> <p>Maloney also stated on Twitter that he is in favor of net neutrality, saying that its repeal “will only hurt New York families.” Further, he endorsed the legalization of marijuana.</p> <p>In contrast to the more liberal James and Teachout, Maloney is more of a centrist, perhaps a necessity to represent a congressional district won by Donald Trump. He is a member of the “<a href="https://newdemocratcoalition-himes.house.gov/about" target="_blank" rel="noopener">New Democrat Coalition</a>,” which describes itself as “a solutions oriented coalition seeking to bridge the gap between left and right by challenging outmoded partisan approaches to governing.”</p> <p>In an <a href="https://www.wnyc.org/story/june-7-2018-rep-sean-patrick-maloney/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">appearance</a> on the Capitol Pressroom soon after announcing his campaign, he said he would continue a lawsuit against Exxon filed by Schneiderman and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, and would also seek to hold pharmaceutical companies accountable for the spread of opioids. On ICE in courtrooms, his answer was evasive. Maloney also boasted of having passed “30 bipartisan bills” in his congressional tenure on behalf of veterans, farmers, and trains, and that he played a significant role in stopping “Trumpcare” in Congress.</p> <p>If elected attorney general, Maloney’s adversarialism toward Wall Street may not be as strong as James’ or Teachout’s would be. <a href="https://twitter.com/Public_Citizen/status/1001868579141283840" target="_blank" rel="noopener">According to Public Citizen</a>, Maloney has accepted almost $500,000 in donations from the financial sector over the course of his career. In May, he voted for a bill in Congress that significantly diminished the post-recession regulations on the financial sector.</p> <p>Like his opponents, Maloney is taking a hard line on Trump. On Capitol Pressroom he said he is “playing defense” in Congress, but that he wishes to “get on offense” against Trump as attorney general.</p> <p>“Changes to the<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SupremeCourt?src=hash" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> #SupremeCourt</a> mean our democratic values are under attack by this president and his goons that think we should roll back rights on minorities, women, and<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/LGBTQ?src=hash" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> #LGBTQ</a> people,” Maloney tweeted on Thursday. “We can’t let it stand. Fight back with me,” he added, with a link to his campaign website.</p> <p>Maloney’s campaign declined an interview request from Gotham Gazette, citing a busy schedule in Washington, D.C.</p> <p>The winner of the Democratic primary for attorney general will face Republican nominee Keith Wofford and other smaller party candidates in the general election.</p> <p>

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by Ben Brachfeld, Gotham Gazette

Read more by this writer.

</p> <p>Ben Max contributed to this article.</p>
Teachout Launches Attorney General Campaign with Focus on Trump 2018-06-05T04:00:00+00:00 2018-06-05T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7714:teachout-launches-attorney-general-campaign-with-focus-on-trump Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/zephyr_teachout_launch_pic_ben_b.jpg" alt="zephyr teachout AG launch trump tower" width="600" height="364" /></p> <p>Zephyr Teachout at her campaign launch (photo: Ben Brachfeld)</p> <hr /> <p>Zephyr Teachout, Fordham Law professor and 2014 Democratic gubernatorial candidate, officially launched her campaign for New York State Attorney General on Tuesday near Trump Tower in midtown Manhattan, promising to take a hard line on the “unconstitutional” policies of President Donald Trump while also taking on corruption in Albany and on Wall Street.</p> <p>The announcement capped off nearly a month of exploration and initial campaigning by Teachout after the post was suddenly vacated by Eric Schneiderman, who resigned in May amid allegations, reported by <a href="https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/four-women-accuse-new-yorks-attorney-general-of-physical-abuse">The New Yorker</a>, that he had physically and emotionally abused four women.</p> <p>Teachout, who stepped down from her post as treasurer for the Cynthia Nixon campaign for governor to run for attorney general, listed her top four priorities in seeking to become the state’s top legal officer: “fighting Trump, taking on Albany corruption, fighting corporate scams and corporate monopolies, and spearheading the moral argument against mass incarceration,” but she largely focused her kickoff remarks on how she plans to take on the president.</p> <p>“I have been in the legal fight against Trump’s lawless actions from the moment he was elected, and I am fully ready to lead that fight for the people of New York,” Teachout said. “I will be relentless, independent, ethical, and swift, acting without fear or favor. I will use law as a sword, not just a shield.”</p> <p>In the wake of Trump’s election, Schneiderman constructed a national reputation as a crusader against the Trump administration, suing the administration in court over such policies and actions as the Muslim travel ban, EPA regulatory rollbacks, and the inclusion of a citizenship question on the 2020 Census, to name just a few.</p> <p>But Teachout says that Schneiderman did not do enough, and that he did not use the strong anti-corruption and anti-fraud laws at the disposal of the New York Attorney General to prosecute Trump personally at the state level for activities related to his businesses. She said she spoke with Schneiderman twice, asking him to join a lawsuit against Trump on the basis of the U.S. Constitution’s Emoluments Clause, and the fact that the alleged crimes occurred in New York. She says that Schneiderman declined, and that he adopted a “defensive” litigation strategy instead of a more aggressive one targeting Trump personally.</p> <p>“New York, which should have been the lead on a parallel suit, did not bring a case,” Teachout said.</p> <p>Trump has controversially declined to divest from his businesses as president, raising constitutional questions due to foreign investment involved in his business empire, which includes real estate holdings in numerous countries. Teachout hopes to obtain a court order mandating that Trump divest. “The president and his businesses are not above the law,” she said.</p> <p>“We will not wait to investigate. We will aggressively investigate violations of these laws and others,” Teachout said, referring to the state level anti-fraud laws, “digging into every file cabinet, finding every report tacked to the back of a real estate filing, always being ready to use our full criminal and civil powers to protect the rule of law for the people of New York.”</p> <p>Teachout also differentiated herself in the Trump fight by saying she would go after New York real estate and finance, which she said was the “conduit” through which Trump was able to commit his alleged crimes.</p> <p>“Trump’s power didn’t grow out of nothing,” she said. “It grew out of New York finance and New York real estate. So investigating his real power, his businesses, means being ready to look under the hood at New York finance and New York real estate.”</p> <p>“It is through the Trump Organization, headquartered here in New York,” she said, “that he has turned the presidency into a personal ATM, engaging in business deals aimed at funneling money from foreign governments into his own pockets. Here, he has turned our democracy into a kleptocracy.”</p> <p>Teachout officially joins a Democratic primary featuring <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7677-letitia-james-launches-campaign-for-attorney-general">Letitia James</a>, the New York City Public Advocate, who has won the endorsement of the State Democratic Party, Governor Andrew Cuomo, and several labor unions, as well as Leecia Eve, a former candidate for lieutenant governor and advisor to Hillary Clinton, and, likely, U.S. Representative Sean Patrick Maloney, who is widely expected to enter the race.</p> <p>The winner of the Democratic primary will face Republican Keith Wofford and other candidates from smaller parties in the general election.</p> <p>The Working Families Party (WFP), the progressive third party that endorsed Nixon for governor, announced its intention to stay <a href="https://blog.timesunion.com/capitol/archives/282343/wfp-installs-placeholder-for-attorney-general-backs-both-james-teachout/">neutral</a> in a primary involving James and Teachout, two candidates that the party has ties to. James, who won her first elected office on the WFP line, said soon after launching her campaign that she <a href="https://nypost.com/2018/05/16/letitia-james-wont-seek-working-families-party-line/">would not seek</a> the endorsement of the WFP, which is locked in battle with Cuomo due to its endorsement of Nixon and the <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/13/nyregion/cuomo-nixon-wfp-labor-governor-election.html">contemporaneous flight</a> of Cuomo-linked labor unions from the party. The WFP hopes to give its ballot line to the winner of the Democratic primary and help that candidate win the general.</p> <p>The gulf in policy positions between James and Teachout is also not as clear-cut as that between Cuomo and Nixon, and the campaign is in an earlier stage than the gubernatorial primary. Thus far, James and Teachout have avoided criticism of each other.</p> <p>Teachout used the launch to bolster her credentials, highlighting her intimate familiarity with the law and her role in the Emoluments Clause lawsuit.</p> <p>“Even before Donald Trump took office,” she said during a question-and-answer session with reporters after her prepared remarks, “I was in the fight against his coming corruption and lawlessness. I helped build the legal team and was on the legal team that brought the lawsuit against Donald Trump three days after he took office. When I talk to New Yorkers, one of the things they tell me is they want New York to stand tall for the rule of law, to be the living counter-argument, and not merely to be defensive as this threat comes towards us.”</p> <p>Teachout’s campaign rhetoric suggests that she would continue the <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/6939-the-evolving-powers-of-the-new-york-attorney-general">recent tradition</a> whereby the New York Attorney General’s office is a bully pulpit from which to challenge entrenched power in both government and the private sector. Schneiderman and his two immediate predecessors, Cuomo and Eliot Spitzer, used the once sleepy office -- which has many less-headline grabbing responsibilities -- to loudly prosecute Wall Street and corporate malfeasance, and policies of the federal government that the office viewed as unconstitutional.</p> <p>Teachout’s tweets of late have suggested that she would do those things, and also focus on state-level crime in the capital. She has made it clear that she would pursue an anti-corruption agenda in New York government, attempting to root out what has been a pernicious problem.</p> <p>A <a href="https://twitter.com/ZephyrTeachout">series of tweets</a> by Teachout on Tuesday morning urged voters to “care about your State AG” if they care about climate change, workers’ rights, “fraud, scams, and privacy violations,” “the crisis of mass incarceration and law enforcement accountability,” and if voters “want new, fearless 21st century trustbusting.”</p> <p>Teachout has twice lost elections in recent years. In 2014, she ran and lost the Democratic primary for governor to Cuomo, though she unexpectedly won 34 percent of the primary vote against the incumbent governor, despite having little name recognition, funding, or media coverage.</p> <p>In 2016, Teachout, with the <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/jul/03/zephyr-teachout-new-york-congress-progressive-bernie-sanders-endorsed">endorsement of Senator Bernie Sanders</a>, ran for Congress in New York’s 19th District, a seat being vacated by Republican Chris Gibson. Teachout lost to Republican John Faso in the general election, 54 to 46 percent.</p> <p>Despite these setbacks, Teachout was taking on something of a role of progressive icon in New York elections before launching her attorney general campaign. She endorsed Nixon almost immediately after she launched her campaign, and she recently endorsed Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for Congress in the 14th District. Ocasio-Cortez is attempting to oust Joe Crowley, the head of the Queens Democratic Party who has been spoken of as a potential future Speaker of the House. The two campaigns may also now be advantages as she attempts to win a statewide primary, given that she has built some name recognition with voters, an extensive campaign email list, and ties to a variety of Democratic clubs and organizations.</p> <p>Teachout said that she hopes to run a grassroots-oriented campaign, with the campaign’s “beating heart” consisting of volunteers.&nbsp;“In our first week, before I even announced publicly, we literally had thousands of contributions,” she said.</p> <p>And, Teachout is running for attorney general while pregnant, joining a number of women to do so in both this election cycle and past.</p> <p>“As many of you know, I am in the middle of my first pregnancy,” she said on Tuesday. “I have the future growing inside me, and with every kick I become more determined, and with every stretch I become more committed to fighting for freedom and justice.”</p> <p>

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by Ben Brachfeld, Gotham Gazette

Read more by this writer.

</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/zephyr_teachout_launch_pic_ben_b.jpg" alt="zephyr teachout AG launch trump tower" width="600" height="364" /></p> <p>Zephyr Teachout at her campaign launch (photo: Ben Brachfeld)</p> <hr /> <p>Zephyr Teachout, Fordham Law professor and 2014 Democratic gubernatorial candidate, officially launched her campaign for New York State Attorney General on Tuesday near Trump Tower in midtown Manhattan, promising to take a hard line on the “unconstitutional” policies of President Donald Trump while also taking on corruption in Albany and on Wall Street.</p> <p>The announcement capped off nearly a month of exploration and initial campaigning by Teachout after the post was suddenly vacated by Eric Schneiderman, who resigned in May amid allegations, reported by <a href="https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/four-women-accuse-new-yorks-attorney-general-of-physical-abuse">The New Yorker</a>, that he had physically and emotionally abused four women.</p> <p>Teachout, who stepped down from her post as treasurer for the Cynthia Nixon campaign for governor to run for attorney general, listed her top four priorities in seeking to become the state’s top legal officer: “fighting Trump, taking on Albany corruption, fighting corporate scams and corporate monopolies, and spearheading the moral argument against mass incarceration,” but she largely focused her kickoff remarks on how she plans to take on the president.</p> <p>“I have been in the legal fight against Trump’s lawless actions from the moment he was elected, and I am fully ready to lead that fight for the people of New York,” Teachout said. “I will be relentless, independent, ethical, and swift, acting without fear or favor. I will use law as a sword, not just a shield.”</p> <p>In the wake of Trump’s election, Schneiderman constructed a national reputation as a crusader against the Trump administration, suing the administration in court over such policies and actions as the Muslim travel ban, EPA regulatory rollbacks, and the inclusion of a citizenship question on the 2020 Census, to name just a few.</p> <p>But Teachout says that Schneiderman did not do enough, and that he did not use the strong anti-corruption and anti-fraud laws at the disposal of the New York Attorney General to prosecute Trump personally at the state level for activities related to his businesses. She said she spoke with Schneiderman twice, asking him to join a lawsuit against Trump on the basis of the U.S. Constitution’s Emoluments Clause, and the fact that the alleged crimes occurred in New York. She says that Schneiderman declined, and that he adopted a “defensive” litigation strategy instead of a more aggressive one targeting Trump personally.</p> <p>“New York, which should have been the lead on a parallel suit, did not bring a case,” Teachout said.</p> <p>Trump has controversially declined to divest from his businesses as president, raising constitutional questions due to foreign investment involved in his business empire, which includes real estate holdings in numerous countries. Teachout hopes to obtain a court order mandating that Trump divest. “The president and his businesses are not above the law,” she said.</p> <p>“We will not wait to investigate. We will aggressively investigate violations of these laws and others,” Teachout said, referring to the state level anti-fraud laws, “digging into every file cabinet, finding every report tacked to the back of a real estate filing, always being ready to use our full criminal and civil powers to protect the rule of law for the people of New York.”</p> <p>Teachout also differentiated herself in the Trump fight by saying she would go after New York real estate and finance, which she said was the “conduit” through which Trump was able to commit his alleged crimes.</p> <p>“Trump’s power didn’t grow out of nothing,” she said. “It grew out of New York finance and New York real estate. So investigating his real power, his businesses, means being ready to look under the hood at New York finance and New York real estate.”</p> <p>“It is through the Trump Organization, headquartered here in New York,” she said, “that he has turned the presidency into a personal ATM, engaging in business deals aimed at funneling money from foreign governments into his own pockets. Here, he has turned our democracy into a kleptocracy.”</p> <p>Teachout officially joins a Democratic primary featuring <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7677-letitia-james-launches-campaign-for-attorney-general">Letitia James</a>, the New York City Public Advocate, who has won the endorsement of the State Democratic Party, Governor Andrew Cuomo, and several labor unions, as well as Leecia Eve, a former candidate for lieutenant governor and advisor to Hillary Clinton, and, likely, U.S. Representative Sean Patrick Maloney, who is widely expected to enter the race.</p> <p>The winner of the Democratic primary will face Republican Keith Wofford and other candidates from smaller parties in the general election.</p> <p>The Working Families Party (WFP), the progressive third party that endorsed Nixon for governor, announced its intention to stay <a href="https://blog.timesunion.com/capitol/archives/282343/wfp-installs-placeholder-for-attorney-general-backs-both-james-teachout/">neutral</a> in a primary involving James and Teachout, two candidates that the party has ties to. James, who won her first elected office on the WFP line, said soon after launching her campaign that she <a href="https://nypost.com/2018/05/16/letitia-james-wont-seek-working-families-party-line/">would not seek</a> the endorsement of the WFP, which is locked in battle with Cuomo due to its endorsement of Nixon and the <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/13/nyregion/cuomo-nixon-wfp-labor-governor-election.html">contemporaneous flight</a> of Cuomo-linked labor unions from the party. The WFP hopes to give its ballot line to the winner of the Democratic primary and help that candidate win the general.</p> <p>The gulf in policy positions between James and Teachout is also not as clear-cut as that between Cuomo and Nixon, and the campaign is in an earlier stage than the gubernatorial primary. Thus far, James and Teachout have avoided criticism of each other.</p> <p>Teachout used the launch to bolster her credentials, highlighting her intimate familiarity with the law and her role in the Emoluments Clause lawsuit.</p> <p>“Even before Donald Trump took office,” she said during a question-and-answer session with reporters after her prepared remarks, “I was in the fight against his coming corruption and lawlessness. I helped build the legal team and was on the legal team that brought the lawsuit against Donald Trump three days after he took office. When I talk to New Yorkers, one of the things they tell me is they want New York to stand tall for the rule of law, to be the living counter-argument, and not merely to be defensive as this threat comes towards us.”</p> <p>Teachout’s campaign rhetoric suggests that she would continue the <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/6939-the-evolving-powers-of-the-new-york-attorney-general">recent tradition</a> whereby the New York Attorney General’s office is a bully pulpit from which to challenge entrenched power in both government and the private sector. Schneiderman and his two immediate predecessors, Cuomo and Eliot Spitzer, used the once sleepy office -- which has many less-headline grabbing responsibilities -- to loudly prosecute Wall Street and corporate malfeasance, and policies of the federal government that the office viewed as unconstitutional.</p> <p>Teachout’s tweets of late have suggested that she would do those things, and also focus on state-level crime in the capital. She has made it clear that she would pursue an anti-corruption agenda in New York government, attempting to root out what has been a pernicious problem.</p> <p>A <a href="https://twitter.com/ZephyrTeachout">series of tweets</a> by Teachout on Tuesday morning urged voters to “care about your State AG” if they care about climate change, workers’ rights, “fraud, scams, and privacy violations,” “the crisis of mass incarceration and law enforcement accountability,” and if voters “want new, fearless 21st century trustbusting.”</p> <p>Teachout has twice lost elections in recent years. In 2014, she ran and lost the Democratic primary for governor to Cuomo, though she unexpectedly won 34 percent of the primary vote against the incumbent governor, despite having little name recognition, funding, or media coverage.</p> <p>In 2016, Teachout, with the <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/jul/03/zephyr-teachout-new-york-congress-progressive-bernie-sanders-endorsed">endorsement of Senator Bernie Sanders</a>, ran for Congress in New York’s 19th District, a seat being vacated by Republican Chris Gibson. Teachout lost to Republican John Faso in the general election, 54 to 46 percent.</p> <p>Despite these setbacks, Teachout was taking on something of a role of progressive icon in New York elections before launching her attorney general campaign. She endorsed Nixon almost immediately after she launched her campaign, and she recently endorsed Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for Congress in the 14th District. Ocasio-Cortez is attempting to oust Joe Crowley, the head of the Queens Democratic Party who has been spoken of as a potential future Speaker of the House. The two campaigns may also now be advantages as she attempts to win a statewide primary, given that she has built some name recognition with voters, an extensive campaign email list, and ties to a variety of Democratic clubs and organizations.</p> <p>Teachout said that she hopes to run a grassroots-oriented campaign, with the campaign’s “beating heart” consisting of volunteers.&nbsp;“In our first week, before I even announced publicly, we literally had thousands of contributions,” she said.</p> <p>And, Teachout is running for attorney general while pregnant, joining a number of women to do so in both this election cycle and past.</p> <p>“As many of you know, I am in the middle of my first pregnancy,” she said on Tuesday. “I have the future growing inside me, and with every kick I become more determined, and with every stretch I become more committed to fighting for freedom and justice.”</p> <p>

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by Ben Brachfeld, Gotham Gazette

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</p>
Democratic Establishment Embraces Cuomo as Pragmatic Progressive 2018-05-24T04:00:00+00:00 2018-05-24T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7691:democratic-establishment-embraces-cuomo-as-pragmatic-progressive Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/cuomo_and_ticket_at_convention.jpg" alt="cuomo and ticket at convention" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>James, Cuomo, Hochul, DiNapoli (photo: @andrewcuomo)</p> <hr /> <p>Governor Andrew Cuomo emerged triumphant and emboldened from the State Democratic Party’s nominating convention on Long Island, with the party’s designation in hand and embraced by top national Democrats and elected party representatives from across the state. The governor basked in the support of centrist establishment figures like Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former Vice President Joe Biden, while they and much of the rest of the convention sought to frame Cuomo as a progressive standard bearer who represents the values of a Democratic Party that continues to move leftward. <br /> <br />Cuomo and others framed the two-term incumbent as a progressive who gets things done, a trailblazer who doesn’t just talk, but has real accomplishments and is actually a unifying figure for the party -- though he is again being challenged from his left in this year’s primary as discontent from the progressive wing has reached a fever pitch. That fever was not particularly evident at the state party convention, however.</p> <p>“We are about to embark on the most consequential campaign in our lifetime,” Cuomo declared in his acceptance speech on Thursday, framing his reelection amid Democratic efforts to retake the state Senate and U.S. House, with several swing districts in New York. “We are at a political crossroads and our decisions and actions are going to define the soul of this state and the soul of this nation.”</p> <p>Cuomo’s coronation comes at a time when progressives are incensed with his centrism and triangulation with Republicans, and are pushing to elect a “true blue” Democrat to the governorship, personified in this case by Cynthia Nixon. But Cuomo’s supporters have warned of the dangers of liberal absolutism, as Democrats seek to retain what control they have over state and federal branches of government while also unseating Republicans in an age of Trumpism. The stakes are high for both parties, and some question whether Democratic infighting does any good while Republicans control the presidency, both houses of Congress, and many state legislatures (New York’s is split, with one house controlled by each party).</p> <p>The Democratic State Committee had already concluded its nominations on Wednesday, leaving party members free to glad-hand and pat each other on the back as they sang the praises of Cuomo and other top party officials. Cuomo won the party designation with 95 percent of the state committee vote, a resounding victory over upstart challenger Nixon, who did appear at the convention as her campaign launched a blistering effort to paint Cuomo as in bed with Republicans. She continued to criticize him as a fake Democrat whose governing style smacks of expediency rather than sincerity.</p> <p>The party also designated as its official nominees incumbents Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul and Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli for another term each, and selected New York City Public Advocate Letitia James as the designated candidate for attorney general to replace Eric Schneiderman, who recently resigned after facing allegations of physical abuse by four women. Hochul is facing a primary challenge from New York City Council Member Jumaane Williams, while James is facing Fordham Law professor Zephyr Teachout and Leecia Eve, a former Cuomo and Clinton aide, in the primary.</p> <p>Given how the state committee voted, Nixon, Williams, Teachout, and Eve will all have to collect petition signatures to get on the primary ballot. Nixon and Williams have the backing of the liberal Working Families Party, but may eschew its ballot line for the general election if they are unsuccessful in the Democratic primary. The WFP has said it wants to give its attorney general ballot line to either James or Teachout, depending on who wins the Democratic primary.</p> <p>Though there was much party business and some controversy, the convention went mostly smoothly for Cuomo, who was the unequivocal star.</p> <p>While Cuomo has indeed governed from the center, he was held up as a paragon of pragmatic progressivism at the convention, in line with the image he has sought to craft for himself in recent months, if not years. Before he spoke to the convention, Cuomo was lauded on Wednesday by Clinton and on Thursday by Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez and by Biden, who has a long-standing friendship with Cuomo, as a leader who has ushered in transformative change and created a model of governance that Democrats across the nation should envy, and emulate.</p> <p>Marriage equality? Cuomo made it happen in New York and helped launch the nation on the path to full realization. Gun control? Cuomo moved quickly after the Sandy Hook elementary school massacre to ban the military-type assault weapons that have been used in many school and other mass shootings since. College tuition? Cuomo made it free for many middle-class students. A $15 minimum wage? Cuomo put a program in place. Paid family leave? Again, Cuomo.</p> <p>In a lofty and lengthy address, filled with anecdotal life lessons, Biden waxed eloquent about the values of the Democratic Party, of American cultural exceptionalism, of the middle class American dream, as he inveighed against the Republican Party’s “phony populism” and “fake nationalism” that threaten to undermine them all. He spoke of his deeply personal ties to the Cuomo family, and of his and the governor’s shared interest in muscle cars (both of them own vintage Corvettes, he noted).</p> <p>He proudly touted Cuomo’s record. “Andrew Cuomo has never backed away from his progressive principles, not one single time,” he said to applause.</p> <p>Perez, occasionally peppering his speech with Spanish, said Cuomo and his running mate Hochul were “charter members of the accomplishments wing of the Democratic Party.”</p> <p>“What I’ve grown to love about Andrew Cuomo is he understands that governance isn’t about speechifying,” Perez said. “It’s about making a real difference in people’s lives,” he said. “New Yorkers don’t want rhetoric, they want results. That’s what Andrew Cuomo has delivered.”</p> <p>To an audience filled with many union workers, Perez hailed Cuomo’s support of labor unions and the state’s immense success in creating jobs under his tenure. And he drew a contrast between the governor and “this other New Yorker in Washington that’s giving a bad name to New York values,” though he stopped short of saying the name Trump.</p> <p>State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, of the Bronx, commended the governor for managing to pass ambitious policies despite Republican control of the state Senate. “When you have a quarterback that’s a winning quarterback on a winning team, there’s no reason to change,” he said in his endorsement of the governor. And Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins, the Democratic minority leader, credited him with reuniting the fractured Senate Democratic conference, setting her up to eventually become the state’s first woman and woman of color to lead a legislative house if the party wins additional Senate seats in the elections this fall. “We can do this and we will make history by finally putting a woman in the room,” she declared.</p> <p>All those Democrats, and the governor himself, put Cuomo on a large pedestal, as a leader who could forge a new path for the Democratic Party and whose administration was an exemplar for other states. The State Democratic Party, as is the case with its national counterpart, is counting on a blue wave that has been building across the nation since Trump’s election. Cuomo has trained his attention, and the state party’s resources, at flipping the state Senate and replacing Congressional Republicans with Democrats.</p> <p>Cuomo welcomed the responsibility, insisting that the nation has its eyes turned to New York. “Our challenge is twofold. First, we must continue to move our state forward as the progressive capital of America because that’s what we are,” he said. “And at the same time, we must overcome the current national extreme conservative movement that is threatening this nation.”</p> <p>Although he claimed he never appreciated his father’s self-proclaimed title of “pragmatic progressive,” Andrew Cuomo made no effort to distance himself from its definition: “We deliver practical progress for people in need,” he said.</p> <p>Taking an expansive look at the Democratic Party, Cuomo said working- and middle-class voters had abandoned the party out of despair in 2016, and that the party must return to its roots. “No more platitudes, no more posturing, no more delay, no more incompetence, no more hypotheticals, no more hyperbole,” he said. “They want action. They want results and they want actions and results now. They don’t want pontification from an ivory tower.”</p> <p>Cuomo's criticism of the Democratic Party and assertion that it had lost the election to Trump struck some as awkward, even insulting, given that Clinton -- the party's 2016 presidential nominee -- had praised and endorsed him the day before.</p> <p>The convention also marked how far Cuomo has shifted in the last two years under the Trump presidency and, significantly, in the last few weeks under a deluge of criticism from a left-leaning progressive wing galvanized by Nixon’s candidacy.</p> <p>For a time after Trump’s election, Cuomo refused to say “Trump” even as he criticized the federal government or “Washington.” In his speech on Thursday, he said the president’s name 18 times. “Today the Albany Republicans all carry the Trump doctrine,” he said. “They all drank the Trump, Ryan, McConnell Kool-Aid and their radical assault is draconian and all-encompassing...They think America was great when women were subordinate and when minorities were disenfranchised, and when the big private market corporations ruled the land and when labor was voiceless. That’s the America they want to take us back to. And we are not going back, ever.”</p> <p>Cuomo did little to tamp down the rumors that he is considering a presidential run ahead of the 2020 election, something that his opponents from the left and the right have criticized him for.</p> <p>Marc Molinaro, the gubernatorial candidate to Cuomo’s right as the Republican nominee, did not escape Cuomo’s scathing critiques either. “The Republicans in this state put on the top of their ticket a Trump mini-me. He's anti-woman, anti-LGBTQ, anti-gun safety, anti-immigration, anti-education equity, and pro-Trump's New York tax increase. All he is is a banner carrier for the extreme conservative movement,” Cuomo said, incorrectly characterizing some stances by Molinaro, who has opposed the federal tax reform and has said he did not vote for Trump for president.</p> <p>But Cuomo did name Molinaro or Nixon, whose campaign sent out “fact check” emails as the governor spoke, contrasting his rhetoric with his record as they framed it. Notably, Cuomo pledged in his speech to “start a new movement of education funding equity” to ensure that public schools receive the resources they need to provide a sound education to all students. It’s a cause that Nixon has championed for nearly 20 years, largely placing blame for insufficient education funding on the governor, who has repeatedly shifted the way he talks about education funding.</p> <p>"The Governor's attempt to reset his campaign this week failed," said Nixon campaign spokesperson Lauren Hitt in a statement on Thursday. “His highly choreographed convention inflamed old divisions, and provided a series of bizarre, tone-deaf moments. Simply put, the Governor did little to push back on the growing realization among New Yorkers that he has more much in common with his wealthy Republican donors than Democrats.”</p> <p>For Democratic State Committee members, Cuomo had successfully grasped the title of progressive. Several members, enthused about a strong and diverse statewide ticket, seemed almost offended that anyone would challenge their champion.</p> <p>“I think we put together a great ticket, I like the diversity of it,” said Crystal Peoples-Stokes, who holds the dual role of state Assemblymember and Democratic State committee member from Assembly District 141. “I think it’s important that the ticket looks more like the electorate,” she said, in apparent reference to the fact that James is an African-American woman, whom Cuomo has backed for the attorney general position, as well as Hochul’s presence on the ticket.</p> <p>“I do take some exception to people always questioning what has happened when most of the progressive things we’ve done in the state have not been done in the rest of the country,” she added.</p> <p>Andre Waldron, a committee member from Nassau County, said Cuomo’s speech was a “home run” and that the convention was “phenomenal.”</p> <p>“I think this time we’ve come out even more inclusive, having all groups represented,” said Louis Goldstein, who said he has been a state committee member from the Bronx since 1970. “I love the fact that we have a female, who happens to be black, as our candidate for attorney general. I think we’re moving in the correct direction.”</p> <p>As with others, Goldstein expressed reservations about Nixon’s candidacy. “She’s a good actress. I compare her as being our quote-unquote Trump, as far as no government experience, she really does not know how to politically get things done,” he said.</p> <p>Mary Gault, a Dutchess County committee member, said the party has a “wonderful team” on the ticket. “Andrew Cuomo, I believe, he did so much good for this state over his eight years. Kathy Hochul...she’s terrific too. And of course, I’ve got a New York pension, [and] Tom DiNapoli, he watches out for us.”</p> <p>Gault said she didn’t give Nixon consideration, though her own county committee is very progressive. “The way she speaks, perfect! I would vote for her in a minute,” she said, “but she doesn’t have the skill set and she doesn’t tell us how she’s going to do it. She’s not a viable candidate, but her platform is perfect.”</p> <p>

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by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

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</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/cuomo_and_ticket_at_convention.jpg" alt="cuomo and ticket at convention" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>James, Cuomo, Hochul, DiNapoli (photo: @andrewcuomo)</p> <hr /> <p>Governor Andrew Cuomo emerged triumphant and emboldened from the State Democratic Party’s nominating convention on Long Island, with the party’s designation in hand and embraced by top national Democrats and elected party representatives from across the state. The governor basked in the support of centrist establishment figures like Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former Vice President Joe Biden, while they and much of the rest of the convention sought to frame Cuomo as a progressive standard bearer who represents the values of a Democratic Party that continues to move leftward. <br /> <br />Cuomo and others framed the two-term incumbent as a progressive who gets things done, a trailblazer who doesn’t just talk, but has real accomplishments and is actually a unifying figure for the party -- though he is again being challenged from his left in this year’s primary as discontent from the progressive wing has reached a fever pitch. That fever was not particularly evident at the state party convention, however.</p> <p>“We are about to embark on the most consequential campaign in our lifetime,” Cuomo declared in his acceptance speech on Thursday, framing his reelection amid Democratic efforts to retake the state Senate and U.S. House, with several swing districts in New York. “We are at a political crossroads and our decisions and actions are going to define the soul of this state and the soul of this nation.”</p> <p>Cuomo’s coronation comes at a time when progressives are incensed with his centrism and triangulation with Republicans, and are pushing to elect a “true blue” Democrat to the governorship, personified in this case by Cynthia Nixon. But Cuomo’s supporters have warned of the dangers of liberal absolutism, as Democrats seek to retain what control they have over state and federal branches of government while also unseating Republicans in an age of Trumpism. The stakes are high for both parties, and some question whether Democratic infighting does any good while Republicans control the presidency, both houses of Congress, and many state legislatures (New York’s is split, with one house controlled by each party).</p> <p>The Democratic State Committee had already concluded its nominations on Wednesday, leaving party members free to glad-hand and pat each other on the back as they sang the praises of Cuomo and other top party officials. Cuomo won the party designation with 95 percent of the state committee vote, a resounding victory over upstart challenger Nixon, who did appear at the convention as her campaign launched a blistering effort to paint Cuomo as in bed with Republicans. She continued to criticize him as a fake Democrat whose governing style smacks of expediency rather than sincerity.</p> <p>The party also designated as its official nominees incumbents Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul and Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli for another term each, and selected New York City Public Advocate Letitia James as the designated candidate for attorney general to replace Eric Schneiderman, who recently resigned after facing allegations of physical abuse by four women. Hochul is facing a primary challenge from New York City Council Member Jumaane Williams, while James is facing Fordham Law professor Zephyr Teachout and Leecia Eve, a former Cuomo and Clinton aide, in the primary.</p> <p>Given how the state committee voted, Nixon, Williams, Teachout, and Eve will all have to collect petition signatures to get on the primary ballot. Nixon and Williams have the backing of the liberal Working Families Party, but may eschew its ballot line for the general election if they are unsuccessful in the Democratic primary. The WFP has said it wants to give its attorney general ballot line to either James or Teachout, depending on who wins the Democratic primary.</p> <p>Though there was much party business and some controversy, the convention went mostly smoothly for Cuomo, who was the unequivocal star.</p> <p>While Cuomo has indeed governed from the center, he was held up as a paragon of pragmatic progressivism at the convention, in line with the image he has sought to craft for himself in recent months, if not years. Before he spoke to the convention, Cuomo was lauded on Wednesday by Clinton and on Thursday by Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez and by Biden, who has a long-standing friendship with Cuomo, as a leader who has ushered in transformative change and created a model of governance that Democrats across the nation should envy, and emulate.</p> <p>Marriage equality? Cuomo made it happen in New York and helped launch the nation on the path to full realization. Gun control? Cuomo moved quickly after the Sandy Hook elementary school massacre to ban the military-type assault weapons that have been used in many school and other mass shootings since. College tuition? Cuomo made it free for many middle-class students. A $15 minimum wage? Cuomo put a program in place. Paid family leave? Again, Cuomo.</p> <p>In a lofty and lengthy address, filled with anecdotal life lessons, Biden waxed eloquent about the values of the Democratic Party, of American cultural exceptionalism, of the middle class American dream, as he inveighed against the Republican Party’s “phony populism” and “fake nationalism” that threaten to undermine them all. He spoke of his deeply personal ties to the Cuomo family, and of his and the governor’s shared interest in muscle cars (both of them own vintage Corvettes, he noted).</p> <p>He proudly touted Cuomo’s record. “Andrew Cuomo has never backed away from his progressive principles, not one single time,” he said to applause.</p> <p>Perez, occasionally peppering his speech with Spanish, said Cuomo and his running mate Hochul were “charter members of the accomplishments wing of the Democratic Party.”</p> <p>“What I’ve grown to love about Andrew Cuomo is he understands that governance isn’t about speechifying,” Perez said. “It’s about making a real difference in people’s lives,” he said. “New Yorkers don’t want rhetoric, they want results. That’s what Andrew Cuomo has delivered.”</p> <p>To an audience filled with many union workers, Perez hailed Cuomo’s support of labor unions and the state’s immense success in creating jobs under his tenure. And he drew a contrast between the governor and “this other New Yorker in Washington that’s giving a bad name to New York values,” though he stopped short of saying the name Trump.</p> <p>State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, of the Bronx, commended the governor for managing to pass ambitious policies despite Republican control of the state Senate. “When you have a quarterback that’s a winning quarterback on a winning team, there’s no reason to change,” he said in his endorsement of the governor. And Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins, the Democratic minority leader, credited him with reuniting the fractured Senate Democratic conference, setting her up to eventually become the state’s first woman and woman of color to lead a legislative house if the party wins additional Senate seats in the elections this fall. “We can do this and we will make history by finally putting a woman in the room,” she declared.</p> <p>All those Democrats, and the governor himself, put Cuomo on a large pedestal, as a leader who could forge a new path for the Democratic Party and whose administration was an exemplar for other states. The State Democratic Party, as is the case with its national counterpart, is counting on a blue wave that has been building across the nation since Trump’s election. Cuomo has trained his attention, and the state party’s resources, at flipping the state Senate and replacing Congressional Republicans with Democrats.</p> <p>Cuomo welcomed the responsibility, insisting that the nation has its eyes turned to New York. “Our challenge is twofold. First, we must continue to move our state forward as the progressive capital of America because that’s what we are,” he said. “And at the same time, we must overcome the current national extreme conservative movement that is threatening this nation.”</p> <p>Although he claimed he never appreciated his father’s self-proclaimed title of “pragmatic progressive,” Andrew Cuomo made no effort to distance himself from its definition: “We deliver practical progress for people in need,” he said.</p> <p>Taking an expansive look at the Democratic Party, Cuomo said working- and middle-class voters had abandoned the party out of despair in 2016, and that the party must return to its roots. “No more platitudes, no more posturing, no more delay, no more incompetence, no more hypotheticals, no more hyperbole,” he said. “They want action. They want results and they want actions and results now. They don’t want pontification from an ivory tower.”</p> <p>Cuomo's criticism of the Democratic Party and assertion that it had lost the election to Trump struck some as awkward, even insulting, given that Clinton -- the party's 2016 presidential nominee -- had praised and endorsed him the day before.</p> <p>The convention also marked how far Cuomo has shifted in the last two years under the Trump presidency and, significantly, in the last few weeks under a deluge of criticism from a left-leaning progressive wing galvanized by Nixon’s candidacy.</p> <p>For a time after Trump’s election, Cuomo refused to say “Trump” even as he criticized the federal government or “Washington.” In his speech on Thursday, he said the president’s name 18 times. “Today the Albany Republicans all carry the Trump doctrine,” he said. “They all drank the Trump, Ryan, McConnell Kool-Aid and their radical assault is draconian and all-encompassing...They think America was great when women were subordinate and when minorities were disenfranchised, and when the big private market corporations ruled the land and when labor was voiceless. That’s the America they want to take us back to. And we are not going back, ever.”</p> <p>Cuomo did little to tamp down the rumors that he is considering a presidential run ahead of the 2020 election, something that his opponents from the left and the right have criticized him for.</p> <p>Marc Molinaro, the gubernatorial candidate to Cuomo’s right as the Republican nominee, did not escape Cuomo’s scathing critiques either. “The Republicans in this state put on the top of their ticket a Trump mini-me. He's anti-woman, anti-LGBTQ, anti-gun safety, anti-immigration, anti-education equity, and pro-Trump's New York tax increase. All he is is a banner carrier for the extreme conservative movement,” Cuomo said, incorrectly characterizing some stances by Molinaro, who has opposed the federal tax reform and has said he did not vote for Trump for president.</p> <p>But Cuomo did name Molinaro or Nixon, whose campaign sent out “fact check” emails as the governor spoke, contrasting his rhetoric with his record as they framed it. Notably, Cuomo pledged in his speech to “start a new movement of education funding equity” to ensure that public schools receive the resources they need to provide a sound education to all students. It’s a cause that Nixon has championed for nearly 20 years, largely placing blame for insufficient education funding on the governor, who has repeatedly shifted the way he talks about education funding.</p> <p>"The Governor's attempt to reset his campaign this week failed," said Nixon campaign spokesperson Lauren Hitt in a statement on Thursday. “His highly choreographed convention inflamed old divisions, and provided a series of bizarre, tone-deaf moments. Simply put, the Governor did little to push back on the growing realization among New Yorkers that he has more much in common with his wealthy Republican donors than Democrats.”</p> <p>For Democratic State Committee members, Cuomo had successfully grasped the title of progressive. Several members, enthused about a strong and diverse statewide ticket, seemed almost offended that anyone would challenge their champion.</p> <p>“I think we put together a great ticket, I like the diversity of it,” said Crystal Peoples-Stokes, who holds the dual role of state Assemblymember and Democratic State committee member from Assembly District 141. “I think it’s important that the ticket looks more like the electorate,” she said, in apparent reference to the fact that James is an African-American woman, whom Cuomo has backed for the attorney general position, as well as Hochul’s presence on the ticket.</p> <p>“I do take some exception to people always questioning what has happened when most of the progressive things we’ve done in the state have not been done in the rest of the country,” she added.</p> <p>Andre Waldron, a committee member from Nassau County, said Cuomo’s speech was a “home run” and that the convention was “phenomenal.”</p> <p>“I think this time we’ve come out even more inclusive, having all groups represented,” said Louis Goldstein, who said he has been a state committee member from the Bronx since 1970. “I love the fact that we have a female, who happens to be black, as our candidate for attorney general. I think we’re moving in the correct direction.”</p> <p>As with others, Goldstein expressed reservations about Nixon’s candidacy. “She’s a good actress. I compare her as being our quote-unquote Trump, as far as no government experience, she really does not know how to politically get things done,” he said.</p> <p>Mary Gault, a Dutchess County committee member, said the party has a “wonderful team” on the ticket. “Andrew Cuomo, I believe, he did so much good for this state over his eight years. Kathy Hochul...she’s terrific too. And of course, I’ve got a New York pension, [and] Tom DiNapoli, he watches out for us.”</p> <p>Gault said she didn’t give Nixon consideration, though her own county committee is very progressive. “The way she speaks, perfect! I would vote for her in a minute,” she said, “but she doesn’t have the skill set and she doesn’t tell us how she’s going to do it. She’s not a viable candidate, but her platform is perfect.”</p> <p>

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by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
Three Themes to Watch at State Democratic Convention 2018-05-21T04:00:00+00:00 2018-05-21T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7683:three-themes-to-watch-at-the-state-democratic-convention Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/28541777526_7bb53e0226_z.jpg" alt="New York convention Cuomo" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>New York Democrats at the 2016 DNC (photo: New York Democratic Party)</p> <hr /> <p>This year’s statewide election campaigns are in full swing, with the Democrats and Republicans hosting their nominating conventions this week. While Republicans are set to back a unified slate of candidates to avoid contested primaries, the Democratic Party finds itself in a degree of turmoil with multiple incumbents facing primary challenges from the left and a progressive base increasingly disillusioned with the state party machinery.</p> <p>As the September primary and November general ballots begin to take shape, all eyes are on the State Democratic Committee, which will host its convention at Hofstra University on Long Island on Wednesday and Thursday, kicking off with a keynote speech from former U.S. Senator from New York, Secretary of State, and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Democrats from across the state, including more than 300 state committee members, will gather to vote on their preferred nominees and on various proposed resolutions and party rule changes.</p> <p><strong>Nominations for Statewide Positions</strong><br />There’s little doubt that Governor Andrew Cuomo, who is running for a third term, and his running mate, Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, who is seeking a second term, will be chosen as the state party’s nominees at the convention. Though both are being challenged from within the party, their nominations seem a foregone conclusion, according to a leaked convention agenda <a href="http://www.ny1.com/nyc/all-boroughs/politics/2018/05/18/new-york-state-democratic-convention-scripted-agenda-leaked" target="_blank" rel="noopener">first reported by NY1’s Zack Fink</a>.</p> <p>The key question, though, is how much support Cuomo and Hochul will each earn from their party members.</p> <p>Cuomo is being challenged in the primary by actor and activist Cynthia Nixon, who won the nomination of the Working Families Party over the weekend and is guaranteed a spot on the general election ballot if she and the party decide to keep her there. As per the Democratic Party’s bylaws, a candidate will have to receive 50 percent of the weighted vote of committee members at the convention to win the primary nomination. Cuomo controls the state party apparatus and has enough support to be guaranteed the nomination. He’s also set to be endorsed by Clinton, who handily won New York in her failed bid for the presidency in 2016.</p> <p>Nixon would have to receive at least 25 percent of the weighted vote to make it onto the Democratic primary ballot, failing which she would have to gather enough petition signatures to qualify. The same goes for New York City Council Member Jumaane Williams, who is running against Hochul and also has the WFP line. Both Nixon and Williams will be attending the convention. In a statement on Monday, Nixon said, “The Governor and his allies have bullied progressive community groups and rallied the full force of the big money establishment because they know he doesn't have any progressive credentials to stand on. But I won't be scared out of the room. New Yorkers deserve a choice.”</p> <p>Williams, in a phone interview, said, “I’m confident that I’ll be on the ballot in September.”</p> <p>While governor and lieutenant governor candidates compete separately in the party primaries, they become a ticket for the general election.</p> <p>Incumbent Comptroller Tom DiNapoli does not have any challengers and is expected to be nominated again without controversy.</p> <p>On the other end of the spectrum, the recent resignation of Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, following allegations of physical abuse by four women, has led to a small scrum of Democrats vying for the open seat.</p> <p>The presumed frontrunner is New York City Public Advocate Letitia James, who rejected the WFP’s likely nomination over the weekend to focus on the Democratic convention (and perhaps to side with Cuomo, who had a dramatic falling out with the WFP, and key labor unions who chose Cuomo over the WFP). Fordham Law professor Zephyr Teachout, who challenged Cuomo in the 2014 gubernatorial Democratic primary, is also seeking the Democratic nomination for attorney general, though she has not officially declared her candidacy. The WFP chose a placeholder for their ballot line and expressed support for both James and Teachout and is expected to back whoever prevails in the Democratic primary.</p> <p>It’s not clear what kind of support Nixon, Williams, and Teachout will receive at the convention. All are popular with the left wing of the Democratic Party, but may not have sway over that many state committee members.</p> <p>“I feel that it’s going to be a coronation of Andrew Cuomo, you know, pre-orchestrated,” said Jay Bellanca, a state committee member from upstate and co-chair of the New York Progressive Action Network.</p> <p>New York State Democratic Party Executive Director Geoff Berman said in a phone interview that the nominations are not decided until the votes are complete. He refuted any suggestion that the convention was a formality, as some critics have said.</p> <p>“I think we have a very strong progressive set of incumbent statewide officeholders who have accomplished a lot and have a strong record to run on for another term,” Berman said. “We have an open attorney general race at this point and I’ll let the members of the committee speak for themselves with their votes.”</p> <p>“We run an open, fair process,” he insisted.</p> <p>“The state committee is still...very opaque, even to members and still has the feeling of an insiders club,” said Ben Yee, a state committee member.</p> <p>“I’m not 100 percent sure that Cynthia and Jumaane will get the 25 percent required to not petition, but I do feel confident that a contingent of state committee members will vote for them,” Yee added. He said there’s a “good chance” they’ll each get the 25 percent.</p> <p>H. Scottie Coads, a state committee member from Long Island, said she is looking forward to the convention. “We have some really progressive candidates looking to get reelected and I’m supportive of all of them...I’m a team player and I’m staunchly behind my governor,” she said. “It’s an exciting time and I think when you have progressive people running, it’s very important that we put our best foot forward and that’s what we intend to do at the convention. Aside from that, I intend to have a good time.”</p> <p><strong>Resolutions, Rule Changes &amp; A Rogue Democrat</strong><br />At each convention, the state committee votes on various resolutions advanced by members and on potential changes to its bylaws. The agenda revealed by NY1 showed proposals that were both humdrum and controversial, some of which were known beforehand.</p> <p>A prominent rule change introduced by NYPAN’s Bellanca and supported by progressive activists would allow as many as 2.6 million voters unaffiliated with any political party to cast their ballots in the Democratic primary. The change could significantly affect election results though it’s unclear if it can pass the convention since it would require a two-thirds majority of state committee members.</p> <p>Bellanca pointed to the leaked agenda, in which the resolution was already listed under “tabled,” as proof that the results are predetermined. “I’m expecting it to be somewhat ridiculous,” he said, assuming that that resolution and others that would reform the party are “probably” dead.</p> <p>“I think they’re going to try and kill them,” he said.</p> <p>Two resolutions were targeted at rogue state Senator Simcha Felder from Brooklyn. Felder is a registered Democrat who was reelected in 2016 on the Democratic, Republican and Conservative Party lines. He is a conservative who caucuses with Republicans, giving them a one-seat majority in the state Senate and effectively thwarting any legislation forwarded by the more progressive Democratic conference.</p> <p>The convention’s leaked agenda suggests that certain committee members may seek to kick Felder out of the party, or at least to formally support whoever challenges him in the September primary and devote resources to such a challenger, currently Blake Morris. If Felder is defeated, that alone could flip the state Senate to Democratic control, though there are a number of swing districts around the state that will be at play this fall when the entire Legislature is up for election.</p> <p>The committee is also expected to take up a resolution to financially support Democrats running for state Senate seats and calling for loyalty pledges from former members of the Senate Independent Democratic Conference -- who used to caucus with Republicans and support their hold on the chamber. Cuomo, who tolerated and allegedly encouraged the IDC’s existence for seven years, recently brought the breakaway conference back into the fold and is taking stronger steps to regain Democratic control of the Senate after lackluster efforts to achieve that in the past, leading to criticism from many Democrats, especially more liberal members of the party.</p> <p>Another party resolution would call for the closure of the much-derided LLC loophole in the state’s campaign finance law, which allows untold amounts of money to flow to state electoral candidates from hidden donors. Cuomo has repeatedly called on the Legislature to close that gap in the law, even as he has been its biggest beneficiary and declined to voluntarily turn off the spigot.</p> <p>“The nominations will be pretty straightforward,” Yee said. “It won’t cause too much division...If they try to table the resolutions and refuse to allow debate on opening the primaries or ejecting Felder from the party, it’ll cause displeasure and hurt the trust between the progressives and the party.”</p> <p>There are other proposals which have yet to be fleshed out but could make for heated debate, including changes to the process of selecting candidates for special elections; changes to how delegates to the Democratic National Convention are chosen; changes to how the state party’s chair and executive committee are chosen; requiring statewide candidates to submit 10 years of tax returns; and an “outside independent investigator for sexual harassment allegations,” among others.</p> <p>Yee, who serves as secretary for the Manhattan branch of the state party, said that if a resolution calling for more budget transparency from the state committee to its own members fails to pass, it’ll cause consternation among the progressives who are already incensed by what they see as the party’s misuse of funds. Case in point: the party’s massive outlay for a media campaign that seemed to support the governor rather than promote the party’s positions. Yee said the issue was prominent in the last few months but has been subsumed by larger political developments.</p> <p><strong>Party Unity or Party Fealty?</strong><br />It’s hard to tell whether the Democrats will emerge from the convention as a unified force or as a fractured party. For many progressives, the nominations seem predetermined and the convention a farcical show of party democracy.</p> <p>“It’s very finely tuned and finely orchestrated, but I think there’s going to be a lot more contention than we’ve ever seen before at this convention,” Bellanca said. Cuomo’s strongarm tactics have alienated members like Bellanca, who see the governor’s influence extending through the state party and directed at his opponents.</p> <p>Council Member Williams put the onus on the party leaders, noting that the party hasn’t learned its lesson from the 2016 election, when the DNC chose to support Clinton’s candidacy over Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who energized the left, whom Williams endorsed. “It seems whenever they talk about party unity, they always talk to the people on the left and never take ownership of party unity themselves,” he said. “So it’s about time the people who are in leadership, the people who are in power, also do some things that are unifying. They don’t seem to do that very often and a good chance to do that is at this convention.”</p> <p>A number of progressive groups including NYPAN, Our Revolution, and Indivisible NY intend on holding a Tuesday presentation at the Marriott Hotel, where convention delegates will be holed up, on the DNC’s Unity Reform Commission report -- issued in the wake of the 2016 presidential election -- to try to convince committee members to support their proposals.</p> <p>Nixon also indicated on Monday that she had invited state committee members to a conference call to discuss her candidacy as she hopes to earn support at the convention.</p> <p>The state party’s Berman brushed aside any concerns about the future of the party and whether this election cycle will expose a deep rift between the various ideological factions within it. “The values and issues that unite us as a party far outweigh any disagreements folks may have,” he said, “and I’m very confident that coming out of the convention and going into the elections in the fall, we will be a strong unified party supporting a strong progressive ticket.”</p> <p>Coads, the Long Island committee member, hoped and prayed for unity, holding up New York as an example to other states. “I’m positive about it and if we don’t, we’ll find a way to unify as we go forward,” she said.</p> <p>Bellanca disagrees. “I think the war’s still going to be going on between the progressive, reform wing and the establishment that wants first class seats on the Titanic,” he said.</p> <p>

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by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/28541777526_7bb53e0226_z.jpg" alt="New York convention Cuomo" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>New York Democrats at the 2016 DNC (photo: New York Democratic Party)</p> <hr /> <p>This year’s statewide election campaigns are in full swing, with the Democrats and Republicans hosting their nominating conventions this week. While Republicans are set to back a unified slate of candidates to avoid contested primaries, the Democratic Party finds itself in a degree of turmoil with multiple incumbents facing primary challenges from the left and a progressive base increasingly disillusioned with the state party machinery.</p> <p>As the September primary and November general ballots begin to take shape, all eyes are on the State Democratic Committee, which will host its convention at Hofstra University on Long Island on Wednesday and Thursday, kicking off with a keynote speech from former U.S. Senator from New York, Secretary of State, and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Democrats from across the state, including more than 300 state committee members, will gather to vote on their preferred nominees and on various proposed resolutions and party rule changes.</p> <p><strong>Nominations for Statewide Positions</strong><br />There’s little doubt that Governor Andrew Cuomo, who is running for a third term, and his running mate, Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, who is seeking a second term, will be chosen as the state party’s nominees at the convention. Though both are being challenged from within the party, their nominations seem a foregone conclusion, according to a leaked convention agenda <a href="http://www.ny1.com/nyc/all-boroughs/politics/2018/05/18/new-york-state-democratic-convention-scripted-agenda-leaked" target="_blank" rel="noopener">first reported by NY1’s Zack Fink</a>.</p> <p>The key question, though, is how much support Cuomo and Hochul will each earn from their party members.</p> <p>Cuomo is being challenged in the primary by actor and activist Cynthia Nixon, who won the nomination of the Working Families Party over the weekend and is guaranteed a spot on the general election ballot if she and the party decide to keep her there. As per the Democratic Party’s bylaws, a candidate will have to receive 50 percent of the weighted vote of committee members at the convention to win the primary nomination. Cuomo controls the state party apparatus and has enough support to be guaranteed the nomination. He’s also set to be endorsed by Clinton, who handily won New York in her failed bid for the presidency in 2016.</p> <p>Nixon would have to receive at least 25 percent of the weighted vote to make it onto the Democratic primary ballot, failing which she would have to gather enough petition signatures to qualify. The same goes for New York City Council Member Jumaane Williams, who is running against Hochul and also has the WFP line. Both Nixon and Williams will be attending the convention. In a statement on Monday, Nixon said, “The Governor and his allies have bullied progressive community groups and rallied the full force of the big money establishment because they know he doesn't have any progressive credentials to stand on. But I won't be scared out of the room. New Yorkers deserve a choice.”</p> <p>Williams, in a phone interview, said, “I’m confident that I’ll be on the ballot in September.”</p> <p>While governor and lieutenant governor candidates compete separately in the party primaries, they become a ticket for the general election.</p> <p>Incumbent Comptroller Tom DiNapoli does not have any challengers and is expected to be nominated again without controversy.</p> <p>On the other end of the spectrum, the recent resignation of Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, following allegations of physical abuse by four women, has led to a small scrum of Democrats vying for the open seat.</p> <p>The presumed frontrunner is New York City Public Advocate Letitia James, who rejected the WFP’s likely nomination over the weekend to focus on the Democratic convention (and perhaps to side with Cuomo, who had a dramatic falling out with the WFP, and key labor unions who chose Cuomo over the WFP). Fordham Law professor Zephyr Teachout, who challenged Cuomo in the 2014 gubernatorial Democratic primary, is also seeking the Democratic nomination for attorney general, though she has not officially declared her candidacy. The WFP chose a placeholder for their ballot line and expressed support for both James and Teachout and is expected to back whoever prevails in the Democratic primary.</p> <p>It’s not clear what kind of support Nixon, Williams, and Teachout will receive at the convention. All are popular with the left wing of the Democratic Party, but may not have sway over that many state committee members.</p> <p>“I feel that it’s going to be a coronation of Andrew Cuomo, you know, pre-orchestrated,” said Jay Bellanca, a state committee member from upstate and co-chair of the New York Progressive Action Network.</p> <p>New York State Democratic Party Executive Director Geoff Berman said in a phone interview that the nominations are not decided until the votes are complete. He refuted any suggestion that the convention was a formality, as some critics have said.</p> <p>“I think we have a very strong progressive set of incumbent statewide officeholders who have accomplished a lot and have a strong record to run on for another term,” Berman said. “We have an open attorney general race at this point and I’ll let the members of the committee speak for themselves with their votes.”</p> <p>“We run an open, fair process,” he insisted.</p> <p>“The state committee is still...very opaque, even to members and still has the feeling of an insiders club,” said Ben Yee, a state committee member.</p> <p>“I’m not 100 percent sure that Cynthia and Jumaane will get the 25 percent required to not petition, but I do feel confident that a contingent of state committee members will vote for them,” Yee added. He said there’s a “good chance” they’ll each get the 25 percent.</p> <p>H. Scottie Coads, a state committee member from Long Island, said she is looking forward to the convention. “We have some really progressive candidates looking to get reelected and I’m supportive of all of them...I’m a team player and I’m staunchly behind my governor,” she said. “It’s an exciting time and I think when you have progressive people running, it’s very important that we put our best foot forward and that’s what we intend to do at the convention. Aside from that, I intend to have a good time.”</p> <p><strong>Resolutions, Rule Changes &amp; A Rogue Democrat</strong><br />At each convention, the state committee votes on various resolutions advanced by members and on potential changes to its bylaws. The agenda revealed by NY1 showed proposals that were both humdrum and controversial, some of which were known beforehand.</p> <p>A prominent rule change introduced by NYPAN’s Bellanca and supported by progressive activists would allow as many as 2.6 million voters unaffiliated with any political party to cast their ballots in the Democratic primary. The change could significantly affect election results though it’s unclear if it can pass the convention since it would require a two-thirds majority of state committee members.</p> <p>Bellanca pointed to the leaked agenda, in which the resolution was already listed under “tabled,” as proof that the results are predetermined. “I’m expecting it to be somewhat ridiculous,” he said, assuming that that resolution and others that would reform the party are “probably” dead.</p> <p>“I think they’re going to try and kill them,” he said.</p> <p>Two resolutions were targeted at rogue state Senator Simcha Felder from Brooklyn. Felder is a registered Democrat who was reelected in 2016 on the Democratic, Republican and Conservative Party lines. He is a conservative who caucuses with Republicans, giving them a one-seat majority in the state Senate and effectively thwarting any legislation forwarded by the more progressive Democratic conference.</p> <p>The convention’s leaked agenda suggests that certain committee members may seek to kick Felder out of the party, or at least to formally support whoever challenges him in the September primary and devote resources to such a challenger, currently Blake Morris. If Felder is defeated, that alone could flip the state Senate to Democratic control, though there are a number of swing districts around the state that will be at play this fall when the entire Legislature is up for election.</p> <p>The committee is also expected to take up a resolution to financially support Democrats running for state Senate seats and calling for loyalty pledges from former members of the Senate Independent Democratic Conference -- who used to caucus with Republicans and support their hold on the chamber. Cuomo, who tolerated and allegedly encouraged the IDC’s existence for seven years, recently brought the breakaway conference back into the fold and is taking stronger steps to regain Democratic control of the Senate after lackluster efforts to achieve that in the past, leading to criticism from many Democrats, especially more liberal members of the party.</p> <p>Another party resolution would call for the closure of the much-derided LLC loophole in the state’s campaign finance law, which allows untold amounts of money to flow to state electoral candidates from hidden donors. Cuomo has repeatedly called on the Legislature to close that gap in the law, even as he has been its biggest beneficiary and declined to voluntarily turn off the spigot.</p> <p>“The nominations will be pretty straightforward,” Yee said. “It won’t cause too much division...If they try to table the resolutions and refuse to allow debate on opening the primaries or ejecting Felder from the party, it’ll cause displeasure and hurt the trust between the progressives and the party.”</p> <p>There are other proposals which have yet to be fleshed out but could make for heated debate, including changes to the process of selecting candidates for special elections; changes to how delegates to the Democratic National Convention are chosen; changes to how the state party’s chair and executive committee are chosen; requiring statewide candidates to submit 10 years of tax returns; and an “outside independent investigator for sexual harassment allegations,” among others.</p> <p>Yee, who serves as secretary for the Manhattan branch of the state party, said that if a resolution calling for more budget transparency from the state committee to its own members fails to pass, it’ll cause consternation among the progressives who are already incensed by what they see as the party’s misuse of funds. Case in point: the party’s massive outlay for a media campaign that seemed to support the governor rather than promote the party’s positions. Yee said the issue was prominent in the last few months but has been subsumed by larger political developments.</p> <p><strong>Party Unity or Party Fealty?</strong><br />It’s hard to tell whether the Democrats will emerge from the convention as a unified force or as a fractured party. For many progressives, the nominations seem predetermined and the convention a farcical show of party democracy.</p> <p>“It’s very finely tuned and finely orchestrated, but I think there’s going to be a lot more contention than we’ve ever seen before at this convention,” Bellanca said. Cuomo’s strongarm tactics have alienated members like Bellanca, who see the governor’s influence extending through the state party and directed at his opponents.</p> <p>Council Member Williams put the onus on the party leaders, noting that the party hasn’t learned its lesson from the 2016 election, when the DNC chose to support Clinton’s candidacy over Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who energized the left, whom Williams endorsed. “It seems whenever they talk about party unity, they always talk to the people on the left and never take ownership of party unity themselves,” he said. “So it’s about time the people who are in leadership, the people who are in power, also do some things that are unifying. They don’t seem to do that very often and a good chance to do that is at this convention.”</p> <p>A number of progressive groups including NYPAN, Our Revolution, and Indivisible NY intend on holding a Tuesday presentation at the Marriott Hotel, where convention delegates will be holed up, on the DNC’s Unity Reform Commission report -- issued in the wake of the 2016 presidential election -- to try to convince committee members to support their proposals.</p> <p>Nixon also indicated on Monday that she had invited state committee members to a conference call to discuss her candidacy as she hopes to earn support at the convention.</p> <p>The state party’s Berman brushed aside any concerns about the future of the party and whether this election cycle will expose a deep rift between the various ideological factions within it. “The values and issues that unite us as a party far outweigh any disagreements folks may have,” he said, “and I’m very confident that coming out of the convention and going into the elections in the fall, we will be a strong unified party supporting a strong progressive ticket.”</p> <p>Coads, the Long Island committee member, hoped and prayed for unity, holding up New York as an example to other states. “I’m positive about it and if we don’t, we’ll find a way to unify as we go forward,” she said.</p> <p>Bellanca disagrees. “I think the war’s still going to be going on between the progressive, reform wing and the establishment that wants first class seats on the Titanic,” he said.</p> <p>

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by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
Cuomo-Launched Women’s Equality Party Will Soon Make Statewide Nominations 2018-05-21T04:00:00+00:00 2018-05-21T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7684:cuomo-launched-women-s-equality-party-will-soon-make-statewide-nominations Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/10633651_10152529562108401_6744560505111285067_o.jpg" alt="Cuomo Hochul campaign" width="600" height="399" /></p> <p>Cuomo, Hochul &amp; the WEP bus (photo: Andrew Cuomo/Facebook)</p> <hr /> <p>As he sought a second term in 2014, Governor Andrew Cuomo created the Women’s Equality Party amid a primary challenge from his left by Zephyr Teachout and as he sought to undermine the Working Families Party, which had begrudgingly endorsed him after he begrudgingly made a set of policy and political promises.</p> <p>Cuomo said it was time for a political party dedicated to women and traveled around on a bus highlighted with pink streaks to underscore his point. The governor was running with Kathy Hochul as his potential lieutenant governor, after his first-term lieutenant governor, Robert Duffy, decided not to seek a second term, and was calling for the passage of a ten-point Women’s Equality Agenda that included measures toward pay equity, abortion protections, and more.</p> <p>In order for the WEP to earn a guaranteed ballot line in subsequent years through the next gubernatorial election, Cuomo and Hochul, its endorsed candidates at the top of the ticket, had to earn at least 50,000 votes on the line in 2014. They received 53,802, a fraction of their roughly 2 million total, mostly earned on the Democratic Party line.</p> <p>Therefore, this year -- amid the #MeToo movement and heightened attention on women running for elected office -- the skeletal WEP has a ballot line to offer the candidates of its choosing. It is one of just eight such parties that come into this state election year with a guaranteed ballot line, and it <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7682-party-nominations-for-statewide-elections-come-into-focus" target="_blank" rel="noopener">appears it will be the last of the eight to announce its nominees for the statewide positions of governor, lieutenant governor, comptroller, and attorney general</a>. (The WEP is already supporting incumbent Democratic U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand for reelection this fall, as well as a slate of congressional candidates.)</p> <p>As of April 1, there were 4,675 New Yorkers registered to vote as members of the Women’s Equality Party, according to the state Board of Elections, including its current chair, Susan Zimet.</p> <p>In the wake of the surprise resignation of Attorney General Eric Schneiderman amid accusations that he physically abused at least four women, Zimet recently put out a call for prospective attorney general candidates interested in the Women’s Equality Party nomination to submit answers to a questionnaire that the party requires for consideration.</p> <p>Statewide candidates have been scrambling to earn and accumulate ballot lines, as every vote and every method of appealing to voters count. For example, presumptive Republican gubernatorial nominee Marc Molinaro, currently the Dutchess county executive, <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7682-party-nominations-for-statewide-elections-come-into-focus" target="_blank" rel="noopener">is set to appear</a> on the GOP, Conservative, and Reform Party ballot lines.</p> <p>Cuomo already appears to have locked up nominations from the Democratic and Independence parties, though he is being challenged in the Democratic primary by Cynthia Nixon, and appears on track to again earn the nomination of the party he launched four years ago, the WEP, which has mostly been quiet over the past several years and boasts a website with several prominent pages <a href="http://womensequalityparty.org/about/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">last updated in 2015</a>.</p> <p>“Never before has our line been more important than it is right now, with the #MeToo movement and the #TimesUp movement,” said Zimet, who took the reigns of the party earlier this year, in an interview with Gotham Gazette.</p> <p>Zimet, whose day job is executive director of the Hunger Action Network of New York, indicated with great enthusiasm for the process that the WEP is still receiving questionnaires form candidates, including those running for state legislative seats in the Assembly and Senate, all of which are up for election this year, and that state committee members would be meeting soon to make nomination decisions.</p> <p>The questionnaire, which includes 20 “yes” or “no” questions and an opportunity for candidates to expand more in additional writing, says at the top that “The WEP is not just the beginning of a new political party; it is a powerful movement to bring women’s issues front and center to ensure that the voices of women are heard and counted where they matter most – at the ballot box.”</p> <p>The questions -- currently the same given to candidates for other offices as well -- include several related to women’s reproductive rights, and others on leveling the economic playing field for women, gun control, immigration, protecting child sex abuse victims, and more. Several of the questions show clear alignment with Cuomo’s record, like passage of sexual harassment prevention measures and tighter gun regulations, and policies he supports that have not been passed, like the Child Victims Act.</p> <p>While Cuomo has several policy achievements that appear aligned with the WEP agenda, he has also been criticized for not including the lone female legislative conference leader, Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins, in negotiations of new sexual harassment prevention legislation and other policy matters, for not doing enough to root out harassers in state government, for being paternalistic and mysoginistic, and for <a href="https://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/news/politics/albany/2017/12/13/andrew-cuomo-says-question-is-disservice-to-women/108581982/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">a particularly rude response</a> to a female journalist who asked him about what he was doing to combat sexual harassment in state government.</p> <p>By sometime in July, Zimet said, the Board of Elections requires that the WEP “designate and authorize” candidates, provide a “Wilson Pakula” to candidates not registered with the WEP in order for them to run on the line, and have candidates accept the nominations.</p> <p>Without getting ahead of her party’s process, Zimet indicated Cuomo has a strong shot at getting the nomination. She repeatedly noted that minor parties must be careful about their choices, in part so that they keep their automatic ballot lines in the future. She referenced the Working Families Party’s difficult decision in backing Cuomo four years ago amid concerns.</p> <p>“He did put in a questionnaire,” Zimet said of Cuomo. “He did apply for the line. And the lieutenant governor did apply for the line. They had to fill out questionnaires like everybody else. He started the line, it’s because of him we have the line. Any governor candidate has influence on every line...especially third party lines, because we have to get 50,000 votes on the governor’s line.”</p> <p>Zimet <a href="https://www.politico.com/states/new-york/albany/story/2018/03/13/womens-equality-party-under-new-management-still-likes-cuomo-311509" target="_blank" rel="noopener">indicated to Politico New York</a> earlier this year that Cuomo would likely be the choice for the WEP.</p> <p>She indicated that Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli had also submitted a questionnaire and is likely to again receive the party’s backing. DiNapoli <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7682-party-nominations-for-statewide-elections-come-into-focus" target="_blank" rel="noopener">will likely have the most ballot lines of any statewide candidate</a> -- he’s set to appear on the Democratic, Working Families, Reform, Independence, and Women’s Equality lines.</p> <p>Zimet repeatedly stressed that she and her follow state committee members, of which there are about 13, would be discussing candidates and deciding nominations, that nothing is preordained and that the members follow the party bylaws. Zimet said that the party has about as many open state committee seats as those filled, but noted that she is “at the beginning of really building the party, and trying to get more people to change their registration, work with us on the issues, and promote the issues we believe in.”</p> <p>As for attorney general, Zimet said that she was as shocked by the Schneiderman revelations as anyone, and had to shift plans quickly after expecting that the WEP would again back him for reelection. “I can’t see why we wouldn’t have under normal circumstances; Schneiderman was at the forefront of our issues, we fully expected to support him,” she said, with some residual disbelief in her voice. “Reading it was devastating. It’s always harder when of your heroes fall. You feel betrayed in a way.”</p> <p>“I really believe in the issues that we stand for,” Zimet said. “It’s really scary to think going forward we could be endorsing people who have skeletons in their closets.”</p> <p>Zimet said during the Thursday interview that Gotham Gazette was the only one to request the attorney general questionnaire, which is the same as the WEP questionnaire for other offices (and embedded below). “I somewhat suspect, I could be wrong, the reason people might not be sending in questionnaires right now could be waiting to see what comes out of the Democratic convention,” she said of the nominating convention set for this Wednesday and Thursday on Long Island.<br />New York City Public Advocate Letitia James has declared her candidacy for the Democratic nomination for attorney general and hopes to win the official nomination of the state party at this week’s convention on Long Island. Zephyr Teachout is also seeking enough votes to qualify for the Democratic primary ballot, and <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/21/nyregion/leecia-eve-attorney-general-ny-schneiderman.html?smprod=nytcore-ipad&amp;smid=nytcore-ipad-share" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The New York Times reported on Monday</a> that Leecia Eve, a former aide to Hillary Clinton and Andrew Cuomo, is also entering the race. Candidates who don’t earn the convention votes for a ballot spot can collect petition signatures to earn such a spot. The primary is September 13.</p> <p>Of James seeking the WEP nomination, Zimet said, “I certainly hope she will.”</p> <p>“I like Tish,” Zimet said. “I hope she does a questionnaire. It’s not an endorsement.”</p> <p>James’ campaign spokesperson did not provide an answer to several inquiries as to whether James would seek the WEP nomination. James has thus far eschewed the backing of the Working Families Party, the party that helped her first win elected office, amid WFP’s internal strife and dramatic falling out with Cuomo as it opted to endorse Nixon for governor and Jumaane Williams for lieutenant governor, and lost several labor union members who sided with Cuomo. James has repeatedly said she is solely focused on earning the Democratic Party nomination, but she has said over the last two days that she is confident there will be some reconciliation with the WFP.</p> <p>A spokesperson for Nixon’s campaign did not return multiple inquiries as to whether she will fill out a Women’s Equality Party questionnaire. A spokesperson for Williams’ campaign said, "Jumaane has a strong public record of pushing for women’s rights, which is why we're proud to be endorsed by the WFP— the primary political party that truly stands for New York’s women,” and did not directly answer the question of whether Williams would fill out a questionnaire and seek the WEP nomination for lieutenant governor.</p> <p>Multiple requests on the subject to Molinaro’s campaign were also not answered. On Sunday, he announced Julie Killian as his lieutenant governor running mate.</p> <p>Teachout told Gotham Gazette that she had not reached out to the WEP for a questionnaire.</p> <p>Zimet said she may talk to one or two WEP committee members to possibly tweak the questions for attorney general candidates.</p> <p>Of the party’s general stance, she said: “Here’s the questionnaire, we want to see where you stand on our issues.”</p> <p>In the announcement requesting any new attorney general candidate applications, the WEP said it is “committed to fight against any attempts to roll back the progress that women have made in this Country and for true equality for all New Yorkers.”</p> <p>The party will continue to “fight back against the sexism and harassment women face on a daily basis” it said, and “will endorse an Attorney General that will fight for our values for equal rights and equal protection under the law for women and children in New York and beyond.”</p> <p>Of the party’s nearly 54,000 votes last time around, Zimet called the showing “pretty impressive, for a line with no history.”</p> <p>“That just goes to show that people who drawn to women’s equality,” she continued. “People found an alternative, it was refreshing to see that.”</p> <p> </p> <p>

***
by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p> <p>Note: this article has been changed based on new information from Susan Zimet.</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/10633651_10152529562108401_6744560505111285067_o.jpg" alt="Cuomo Hochul campaign" width="600" height="399" /></p> <p>Cuomo, Hochul &amp; the WEP bus (photo: Andrew Cuomo/Facebook)</p> <hr /> <p>As he sought a second term in 2014, Governor Andrew Cuomo created the Women’s Equality Party amid a primary challenge from his left by Zephyr Teachout and as he sought to undermine the Working Families Party, which had begrudgingly endorsed him after he begrudgingly made a set of policy and political promises.</p> <p>Cuomo said it was time for a political party dedicated to women and traveled around on a bus highlighted with pink streaks to underscore his point. The governor was running with Kathy Hochul as his potential lieutenant governor, after his first-term lieutenant governor, Robert Duffy, decided not to seek a second term, and was calling for the passage of a ten-point Women’s Equality Agenda that included measures toward pay equity, abortion protections, and more.</p> <p>In order for the WEP to earn a guaranteed ballot line in subsequent years through the next gubernatorial election, Cuomo and Hochul, its endorsed candidates at the top of the ticket, had to earn at least 50,000 votes on the line in 2014. They received 53,802, a fraction of their roughly 2 million total, mostly earned on the Democratic Party line.</p> <p>Therefore, this year -- amid the #MeToo movement and heightened attention on women running for elected office -- the skeletal WEP has a ballot line to offer the candidates of its choosing. It is one of just eight such parties that come into this state election year with a guaranteed ballot line, and it <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7682-party-nominations-for-statewide-elections-come-into-focus" target="_blank" rel="noopener">appears it will be the last of the eight to announce its nominees for the statewide positions of governor, lieutenant governor, comptroller, and attorney general</a>. (The WEP is already supporting incumbent Democratic U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand for reelection this fall, as well as a slate of congressional candidates.)</p> <p>As of April 1, there were 4,675 New Yorkers registered to vote as members of the Women’s Equality Party, according to the state Board of Elections, including its current chair, Susan Zimet.</p> <p>In the wake of the surprise resignation of Attorney General Eric Schneiderman amid accusations that he physically abused at least four women, Zimet recently put out a call for prospective attorney general candidates interested in the Women’s Equality Party nomination to submit answers to a questionnaire that the party requires for consideration.</p> <p>Statewide candidates have been scrambling to earn and accumulate ballot lines, as every vote and every method of appealing to voters count. For example, presumptive Republican gubernatorial nominee Marc Molinaro, currently the Dutchess county executive, <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7682-party-nominations-for-statewide-elections-come-into-focus" target="_blank" rel="noopener">is set to appear</a> on the GOP, Conservative, and Reform Party ballot lines.</p> <p>Cuomo already appears to have locked up nominations from the Democratic and Independence parties, though he is being challenged in the Democratic primary by Cynthia Nixon, and appears on track to again earn the nomination of the party he launched four years ago, the WEP, which has mostly been quiet over the past several years and boasts a website with several prominent pages <a href="http://womensequalityparty.org/about/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">last updated in 2015</a>.</p> <p>“Never before has our line been more important than it is right now, with the #MeToo movement and the #TimesUp movement,” said Zimet, who took the reigns of the party earlier this year, in an interview with Gotham Gazette.</p> <p>Zimet, whose day job is executive director of the Hunger Action Network of New York, indicated with great enthusiasm for the process that the WEP is still receiving questionnaires form candidates, including those running for state legislative seats in the Assembly and Senate, all of which are up for election this year, and that state committee members would be meeting soon to make nomination decisions.</p> <p>The questionnaire, which includes 20 “yes” or “no” questions and an opportunity for candidates to expand more in additional writing, says at the top that “The WEP is not just the beginning of a new political party; it is a powerful movement to bring women’s issues front and center to ensure that the voices of women are heard and counted where they matter most – at the ballot box.”</p> <p>The questions -- currently the same given to candidates for other offices as well -- include several related to women’s reproductive rights, and others on leveling the economic playing field for women, gun control, immigration, protecting child sex abuse victims, and more. Several of the questions show clear alignment with Cuomo’s record, like passage of sexual harassment prevention measures and tighter gun regulations, and policies he supports that have not been passed, like the Child Victims Act.</p> <p>While Cuomo has several policy achievements that appear aligned with the WEP agenda, he has also been criticized for not including the lone female legislative conference leader, Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins, in negotiations of new sexual harassment prevention legislation and other policy matters, for not doing enough to root out harassers in state government, for being paternalistic and mysoginistic, and for <a href="https://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/news/politics/albany/2017/12/13/andrew-cuomo-says-question-is-disservice-to-women/108581982/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">a particularly rude response</a> to a female journalist who asked him about what he was doing to combat sexual harassment in state government.</p> <p>By sometime in July, Zimet said, the Board of Elections requires that the WEP “designate and authorize” candidates, provide a “Wilson Pakula” to candidates not registered with the WEP in order for them to run on the line, and have candidates accept the nominations.</p> <p>Without getting ahead of her party’s process, Zimet indicated Cuomo has a strong shot at getting the nomination. She repeatedly noted that minor parties must be careful about their choices, in part so that they keep their automatic ballot lines in the future. She referenced the Working Families Party’s difficult decision in backing Cuomo four years ago amid concerns.</p> <p>“He did put in a questionnaire,” Zimet said of Cuomo. “He did apply for the line. And the lieutenant governor did apply for the line. They had to fill out questionnaires like everybody else. He started the line, it’s because of him we have the line. Any governor candidate has influence on every line...especially third party lines, because we have to get 50,000 votes on the governor’s line.”</p> <p>Zimet <a href="https://www.politico.com/states/new-york/albany/story/2018/03/13/womens-equality-party-under-new-management-still-likes-cuomo-311509" target="_blank" rel="noopener">indicated to Politico New York</a> earlier this year that Cuomo would likely be the choice for the WEP.</p> <p>She indicated that Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli had also submitted a questionnaire and is likely to again receive the party’s backing. DiNapoli <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7682-party-nominations-for-statewide-elections-come-into-focus" target="_blank" rel="noopener">will likely have the most ballot lines of any statewide candidate</a> -- he’s set to appear on the Democratic, Working Families, Reform, Independence, and Women’s Equality lines.</p> <p>Zimet repeatedly stressed that she and her follow state committee members, of which there are about 13, would be discussing candidates and deciding nominations, that nothing is preordained and that the members follow the party bylaws. Zimet said that the party has about as many open state committee seats as those filled, but noted that she is “at the beginning of really building the party, and trying to get more people to change their registration, work with us on the issues, and promote the issues we believe in.”</p> <p>As for attorney general, Zimet said that she was as shocked by the Schneiderman revelations as anyone, and had to shift plans quickly after expecting that the WEP would again back him for reelection. “I can’t see why we wouldn’t have under normal circumstances; Schneiderman was at the forefront of our issues, we fully expected to support him,” she said, with some residual disbelief in her voice. “Reading it was devastating. It’s always harder when of your heroes fall. You feel betrayed in a way.”</p> <p>“I really believe in the issues that we stand for,” Zimet said. “It’s really scary to think going forward we could be endorsing people who have skeletons in their closets.”</p> <p>Zimet said during the Thursday interview that Gotham Gazette was the only one to request the attorney general questionnaire, which is the same as the WEP questionnaire for other offices (and embedded below). “I somewhat suspect, I could be wrong, the reason people might not be sending in questionnaires right now could be waiting to see what comes out of the Democratic convention,” she said of the nominating convention set for this Wednesday and Thursday on Long Island.<br />New York City Public Advocate Letitia James has declared her candidacy for the Democratic nomination for attorney general and hopes to win the official nomination of the state party at this week’s convention on Long Island. Zephyr Teachout is also seeking enough votes to qualify for the Democratic primary ballot, and <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/21/nyregion/leecia-eve-attorney-general-ny-schneiderman.html?smprod=nytcore-ipad&amp;smid=nytcore-ipad-share" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The New York Times reported on Monday</a> that Leecia Eve, a former aide to Hillary Clinton and Andrew Cuomo, is also entering the race. Candidates who don’t earn the convention votes for a ballot spot can collect petition signatures to earn such a spot. The primary is September 13.</p> <p>Of James seeking the WEP nomination, Zimet said, “I certainly hope she will.”</p> <p>“I like Tish,” Zimet said. “I hope she does a questionnaire. It’s not an endorsement.”</p> <p>James’ campaign spokesperson did not provide an answer to several inquiries as to whether James would seek the WEP nomination. James has thus far eschewed the backing of the Working Families Party, the party that helped her first win elected office, amid WFP’s internal strife and dramatic falling out with Cuomo as it opted to endorse Nixon for governor and Jumaane Williams for lieutenant governor, and lost several labor union members who sided with Cuomo. James has repeatedly said she is solely focused on earning the Democratic Party nomination, but she has said over the last two days that she is confident there will be some reconciliation with the WFP.</p> <p>A spokesperson for Nixon’s campaign did not return multiple inquiries as to whether she will fill out a Women’s Equality Party questionnaire. A spokesperson for Williams’ campaign said, "Jumaane has a strong public record of pushing for women’s rights, which is why we're proud to be endorsed by the WFP— the primary political party that truly stands for New York’s women,” and did not directly answer the question of whether Williams would fill out a questionnaire and seek the WEP nomination for lieutenant governor.</p> <p>Multiple requests on the subject to Molinaro’s campaign were also not answered. On Sunday, he announced Julie Killian as his lieutenant governor running mate.</p> <p>Teachout told Gotham Gazette that she had not reached out to the WEP for a questionnaire.</p> <p>Zimet said she may talk to one or two WEP committee members to possibly tweak the questions for attorney general candidates.</p> <p>Of the party’s general stance, she said: “Here’s the questionnaire, we want to see where you stand on our issues.”</p> <p>In the announcement requesting any new attorney general candidate applications, the WEP said it is “committed to fight against any attempts to roll back the progress that women have made in this Country and for true equality for all New Yorkers.”</p> <p>The party will continue to “fight back against the sexism and harassment women face on a daily basis” it said, and “will endorse an Attorney General that will fight for our values for equal rights and equal protection under the law for women and children in New York and beyond.”</p> <p>Of the party’s nearly 54,000 votes last time around, Zimet called the showing “pretty impressive, for a line with no history.”</p> <p>“That just goes to show that people who drawn to women’s equality,” she continued. “People found an alternative, it was refreshing to see that.”</p> <p> </p> <p>

***
by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p> <p>Note: this article has been changed based on new information from Susan Zimet.</p>
Party Nominations for Statewide Elections Come Into Focus 2018-05-20T04:00:00+00:00 2018-05-20T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7682:party-nominations-for-statewide-elections-come-into-focus Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/nixon_wfp_make_the_road_action.jpg" alt="Cynthia Nixon WFP nomination" width="600" height="304" /></p> <p>Cynthia Nixon at the WFP convention (photo: Make The Road Action)</p> <hr /> <p>It’s political party convention season as this state and federal election year heats up in New York, with federal primaries on June 26, state primaries September 13, and the general election November 6.</p> <p>Over the weekend, the Working Families Party and Green Party held their nominating conventions on Saturday and the Reform Party held its on Sunday. This week the Democratic and Republican state parties will hold their conventions, nominating candidates for the four statewide positions of governor, lieutenant governor, comptroller, and attorney general. It is also an election year for one of the state’s two United State Senate seats, the one currently held by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. Democrats currently hold all five of these positions.</p> <p>Along with those formally backed by the political parties, in some cases other candidates may qualify for the primary ballot if they can earn enough votes from state committee members at the conventions. Candidates also have the opportunity to claim a primary ballot spot by collecting the requisite petition signatures across the state.</p> <p>Given the weekend conventions, along with other announcements from parties and campaigns, the statewide tickets of the major and minor parties are coming into view.</p> <p><strong>The WFP</strong><br />As expected, on Saturday the Working Families Party nominated Cynthia Nixon for governor, Jumaane Williams for lieutenant governor, and incumbent Tom DiNapoli for comptroller.</p> <p>The party’s state committee members decided to install a placeholder for attorney general and give its backing to both Letitia James and Zephyr Teachout, with the intention to give its ballot line to whichever of the two emerges from the Democratic primary. James had said she wasn’t seeking the WFP nomination, and her campaign declined to comment on the WFP decision on Saturday. But, James seemed to take a softer stance during remarks on Sunday, according to tweets from the New York Progressive Action Network, where she made an appearance.</p> <p>"I am still a member of the WFP,” James said according to one tweet. “We are joined at the hip. I am proud to be their standard bearer and to be the face of the WFP going forward." Another tweet said that James indicated she would eventually appear on the WFP line, but the language was not completely clear. A Sunday afternoon inquiry to James’ campaign was not returned.</p> <p>The WFP convention was a raucous affair in Harlem on Saturday, with hundreds of party members and supporters gathered to enthusiastically back its slate and rally as it faces an existential crisis given its nasty split with Governor Andrew Cuomo, who is known for attempting to wipe his adversaries off the political map.<br /> <br />In her acceptance speech, Nixon went right after the incumbent governor, who the WFP backed in his 2010 and 2014 runs and she is hoping to defeat in the Democratic primary. (If she does not win that primary, the WFP may seek to replace her on the general election ballot so as to not play spoiler and allow Republican Marc Molinaro to win.)<br /> <br />But Nixon, WFP supporters, and many liberal Democrats are hopeful about the primary and pulling no punches when it comes to attacking Cuomo, who they say has governed as a centrist.<br /> <br />Listing off a progressive agenda of policy plans including tougher rent regulations, a more accessible ballot box, and legalized marijuana, Nixon pledged an inclusive New York for “all of us,” that pursues racial, social, and economic justice.<br /> <br />“WFP founders Jon Kest and Bertha Lewis were the first ones to ask me eight years ago to consider running for Governor,” Nixon said from the stage on Saturday. “Now, after eight years of Cuomo, and Trump in the White House, I couldn’t say ‘no.’”</p> <p>In accepting his nomination, City Council Member Williams reiterated his promise to break the recent mold of lieutenant governors, and not be a rubber stamp or cheerleader for the governor.</p> <p>“I am running to be the voice of the people in state government, and I could not be more proud to have the Working Families Party by my side,” Williams said, during remarks that had the crowd more energized than any other portion of the program that Gotham Gazette saw. “As the people’s Lieutenant Governor, I will be an independent advocate for all New Yorkers. I will make certain that our Governor and elected officials uphold their promises, and will hold them accountable for the actions they take.”<br /> <br /><strong>The Green Party</strong><br />The Green Party has put its statewide slate forward, with Howie Hawkins again topping the ticket as the gubernatorial candidate. Jia Lee will be the Green Party nominee for lieutenant governor.</p> <p>After laying out a progressive policy agenda and framework for social, economic, and environmental justice, Hawkins said at Saturday’s convention, “The way this is going to play out in the fall is there’ll be the progressive Greens, the centrist Democrats, and the conservative Republicans. And the argument, the narrative against us is we’re going to spoil it and elect the Republicans, and we have to say ‘no, we’re the progressive alternative, the Democrats won’t solve our problems, don’t waste your vote, vote for what you want, make your vote count, make the system come to what you want -- and that’s how we leverage power and we make a difference.”</p> <p>Mark Dunlea will be the Green candidate for comptroller and Michael Sussman will be the Green candidate for attorney general.<br /> <br /><strong>The Reform Party</strong><br />On Sunday, presumptive Republican gubernatorial nominee Marc Molinaro announced that Julie Killian, a former Rye City Council member, would be his lieutenant governor running mate. Killian recently lost a special election for a Westchester state Senate seat to Democrat Shelley Mayer. The pair is expected to form the top of the official ticket of the Republican and Conservative parties. Soon after the announcement, the Reform Party leadership voted to back Molinaro for governor and Killian for lieutenant governor.</p> <p>"Many thanks to Reform Party for its endorsement of Julie and me today,” Molinaro said in a statement. “Because no matter your political persuasion, if you are a New Yorker who desires reform, you know that the largest roadblock standing in the way is Andrew Cuomo. This state desperately needs change. Defeating Andrew Cuomo and breaking his iron grip over this corrupt state government is the only thing that will break down the floodgates and make change possible."</p> <p>The Reform Party is also backing former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara for attorney general, though Bharara has given no public indication he will accept the nomination or run for AG at all. The party also designated Chris Garvey, Nancy Regula, and Michael Diederich to run for attorney general, so there will be a Reform Party primary for AG. And, for comptroller the party is backing DiNapoli, who is likely to have the most ballot lines of any statewide candidate in November.</p> <p><strong>Democrats and Republicans</strong><br />This week will see the Democratic and Republican state party conventions, both occurring on Wednesday and Thursday, with the Democrats on Long Island and the Republicans in Manhattan. Molinaro and Killian are expected to formally earn and accept their nominations on Wednesday, while on Thursday Cuomo is expected to win and accept his party’s nomination for a third time, while Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul is expected to accept the party’s nomination for her position for a second time.</p> <p>It appears likely that Democratic state committee members will back Public Advocate James for attorney general, though one or more other candidates could earn the 25% of the vote needed to be automatically placed on the primary ballot. Teachout and Leecia Eve have indicated they will go to the convention to seek such backing. Cuomo endorsed James for attorney general on Tuesday, just before the convention.</p> <p>Along with the question of whether Teachout and/or Eve can earn the 25% to make the primary ballot for AG is whether Nixon and Williams go to the convention and win the 25% each to appear on Democratic primary ballots as well. If candidates do not qualify at the nominating convention, they can petition to get on the ballot by collecting signatures across the state. Randy Credico, a comedian and activist who also ran for governor in 2014 and New York City mayor in 2013, may also be mounting an effort to make the Democratic primary ballot.</p> <p>On Monday morning, Nixon announced her intention for the convention. "I am attending the convention because New York Democrats deserve to have at least one actual Democratic candidate for governor at their state convention," she said in a statement. "As Governor Cuomo has said himself, he's run this state in a way that would make any Republican proud. The Governor and his allies have bullied progressive community groups and rallied the full force of the big money establishment because they know he doesn't have any progressive credentials to stand on. But I won't be scared out of the room. New Yorkers deserve a choice."</p> <p>The Nixon campaign also indicated that Nixon has invited state committee members to a conference call to discuss her candidacy, though the details of the call were not provided.</p> <p>It’s not completely clear yet who will be the Republican nominee for attorney general, given that former AG Eric Schneiderman’s resignation changed the thinking for many potential candidates of various party affiliations, as well as party leaders. John Cahill, a former top aide to Governor George Pataki and the 2014 GOP nominee for AG was considering another bid but bowed out. Manny Alicandro and Keith Wofford have announced their candidacies.</p> <p>Jonathan Trichter is likely to be the GOP nominee for comptroller.</p> <p>State Democratic Party Executive Director Geoff Berman issued a statement on Saturday that took aim at the WFP and the GOP.</p> <p>“It is convention week in New York, and I am proud to be part of the Democratic Party as we head into our convention,” Berman wrote. “The state of the WFP today stands in stark contrast with the state of the Democratic Party. The union-founded party has no working families left after every union has left their ranks.”</p> <p>Berman went on to criticize WFP political director Bill Lipton for orchestrating the party’s attorney general nominations and Williams for “an anti-choice and anti-marriage equality record.” Williams has made many attempts, including during his WFP acceptance speech, to clarify his current stances in support of abortion access and marriage equality, but he has in the past expressed personal opinions against both.</p> <p>Berman called Molinaro a “Trump mini-me,” though Molinaro has said he didn’t vote for Trump in 2016. Molinaro does appear to be mostly aligned with Trump and congressional Republicans on policy, however. “Molinaro is anti choice, anti gun safety, anti LGBTQ, and part of Trump's property and income tax increase plan that ended State and Local deductibility,” Berman wrote, though Molinaro has expressed an ‘evolution’ on marriage equality and inclusiveness toward LGBT New Yorkers, and the Trump-led tax overhaul did not end such deductibility, it reduced it to $10,000 annually.</p> <p>It is evident that Berman, Cuomo, and other Democrats will attempt to tie Molinaro, Killian, and other Republicans to Trump, who is deeply unpopular overall in New York, though he retains some pockets of significant support in his home state. Molinaro and others will have to rally the Republican base while also appealing to moderates, including many party-unaffiliated voters, in order to win statewide, especially in a year in which Democrats are energized and in good position to swing multiple House and state Senate seats.</p> <p>One of the most important decisions of the weekend was Molinaro choosing Killian as a running mate. It’s not immediately clear that she will be of significant help as the Dutchess county executive attempts to become the first Republican governor since George Pataki. Killian has only held elected office as a Rye City Council member and was a deputy mayor, and she has lost her last two races.</p> <p>Republican sources indicated that the Molinaro campaign decided it was important to choose a woman for the ticket. Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo, who was a co-chair of the lieutenant governor candidate search committee for Molinaro, took herself out of the running after Molinaro was apparently strongly considering her, and may have made a better choice. With both Molinaro and Killian lukewarm toward Trump and from downstate, the ticket may not be best suited toward rallying the base or appealing to voters upstate or in western New York.</p> <p>"Julie Killian is a champion for people who have no voice, who are left behind, who are in crisis and she will never back down from the challenges that are facing our state. I'm proud to have Julie as my partner in this campaign to restore New Yorker's belief in the future of our state," Molinaro said in a statement.</p> <p>"Marc and I share a vision of New York, that is more affordable, accountable and accessible for all families and I am honored to join his team as a true partner, " said Killian.</p> <p>A press release from the Molinaro campaign called Killian “a strong campaigner to the key suburban battlegrounds” and noted that in her recent state Senate race she “significantly outperformed President Trump in Westchester in 2016.</p> <p>“Julie Killian stood out among many great picks to serve as @marcmolinaro’s running mate,” Dinolfo tweeted on Sunday. “As a former city councilwoman, she knows what it takes to run a government while protecting taxpayers. She will make a great LG!”</p> <p><strong>Other Parties</strong><br />The three other parties that have guaranteed ballot lines this year include the Independence Party -- which appears to be nominating Cuomo, Hochul, and DiNapoli -- and the Women’s Equality Party, which has not made its nominations yet, but will do so soon. The WEP is likely to back Cuomo, Hochul, and DiNapoli again this year -- the party was launched by Cuomo in 2014 as he attempted to undermine both his female Democratic primary opponent, Zephyr Teachout, and the WFP. It’s not clear if either party will make an attorney general choice, though the WEP did issue a call to interested candidates in the wake of Schneiderman's resignation.</p> <p>The Conservative Party appears set to cross-endorse the Republican ticket for statewide seats.</p> <p>The Libertarian Party, meanwhile, typically petitions to get a candidate on the ballot and has this year nominated Larry Sharpe for governor. Sharpe and the Libertarian Party are hoping to crack the 50,000-vote threshold to earn an automatic ballot line over the next four years. The party came close in 2010 with a different candidate, and Sharpe, who has been actively fundraising and campaigning, is seen as the strongest candidate the party has backed in several cycles.</p> <p>

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by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

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</p> <p>Note: this story has been updated as events change and to include Larry Sharpe's Libertarian candidacy.</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/nixon_wfp_make_the_road_action.jpg" alt="Cynthia Nixon WFP nomination" width="600" height="304" /></p> <p>Cynthia Nixon at the WFP convention (photo: Make The Road Action)</p> <hr /> <p>It’s political party convention season as this state and federal election year heats up in New York, with federal primaries on June 26, state primaries September 13, and the general election November 6.</p> <p>Over the weekend, the Working Families Party and Green Party held their nominating conventions on Saturday and the Reform Party held its on Sunday. This week the Democratic and Republican state parties will hold their conventions, nominating candidates for the four statewide positions of governor, lieutenant governor, comptroller, and attorney general. It is also an election year for one of the state’s two United State Senate seats, the one currently held by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. Democrats currently hold all five of these positions.</p> <p>Along with those formally backed by the political parties, in some cases other candidates may qualify for the primary ballot if they can earn enough votes from state committee members at the conventions. Candidates also have the opportunity to claim a primary ballot spot by collecting the requisite petition signatures across the state.</p> <p>Given the weekend conventions, along with other announcements from parties and campaigns, the statewide tickets of the major and minor parties are coming into view.</p> <p><strong>The WFP</strong><br />As expected, on Saturday the Working Families Party nominated Cynthia Nixon for governor, Jumaane Williams for lieutenant governor, and incumbent Tom DiNapoli for comptroller.</p> <p>The party’s state committee members decided to install a placeholder for attorney general and give its backing to both Letitia James and Zephyr Teachout, with the intention to give its ballot line to whichever of the two emerges from the Democratic primary. James had said she wasn’t seeking the WFP nomination, and her campaign declined to comment on the WFP decision on Saturday. But, James seemed to take a softer stance during remarks on Sunday, according to tweets from the New York Progressive Action Network, where she made an appearance.</p> <p>"I am still a member of the WFP,” James said according to one tweet. “We are joined at the hip. I am proud to be their standard bearer and to be the face of the WFP going forward." Another tweet said that James indicated she would eventually appear on the WFP line, but the language was not completely clear. A Sunday afternoon inquiry to James’ campaign was not returned.</p> <p>The WFP convention was a raucous affair in Harlem on Saturday, with hundreds of party members and supporters gathered to enthusiastically back its slate and rally as it faces an existential crisis given its nasty split with Governor Andrew Cuomo, who is known for attempting to wipe his adversaries off the political map.<br /> <br />In her acceptance speech, Nixon went right after the incumbent governor, who the WFP backed in his 2010 and 2014 runs and she is hoping to defeat in the Democratic primary. (If she does not win that primary, the WFP may seek to replace her on the general election ballot so as to not play spoiler and allow Republican Marc Molinaro to win.)<br /> <br />But Nixon, WFP supporters, and many liberal Democrats are hopeful about the primary and pulling no punches when it comes to attacking Cuomo, who they say has governed as a centrist.<br /> <br />Listing off a progressive agenda of policy plans including tougher rent regulations, a more accessible ballot box, and legalized marijuana, Nixon pledged an inclusive New York for “all of us,” that pursues racial, social, and economic justice.<br /> <br />“WFP founders Jon Kest and Bertha Lewis were the first ones to ask me eight years ago to consider running for Governor,” Nixon said from the stage on Saturday. “Now, after eight years of Cuomo, and Trump in the White House, I couldn’t say ‘no.’”</p> <p>In accepting his nomination, City Council Member Williams reiterated his promise to break the recent mold of lieutenant governors, and not be a rubber stamp or cheerleader for the governor.</p> <p>“I am running to be the voice of the people in state government, and I could not be more proud to have the Working Families Party by my side,” Williams said, during remarks that had the crowd more energized than any other portion of the program that Gotham Gazette saw. “As the people’s Lieutenant Governor, I will be an independent advocate for all New Yorkers. I will make certain that our Governor and elected officials uphold their promises, and will hold them accountable for the actions they take.”<br /> <br /><strong>The Green Party</strong><br />The Green Party has put its statewide slate forward, with Howie Hawkins again topping the ticket as the gubernatorial candidate. Jia Lee will be the Green Party nominee for lieutenant governor.</p> <p>After laying out a progressive policy agenda and framework for social, economic, and environmental justice, Hawkins said at Saturday’s convention, “The way this is going to play out in the fall is there’ll be the progressive Greens, the centrist Democrats, and the conservative Republicans. And the argument, the narrative against us is we’re going to spoil it and elect the Republicans, and we have to say ‘no, we’re the progressive alternative, the Democrats won’t solve our problems, don’t waste your vote, vote for what you want, make your vote count, make the system come to what you want -- and that’s how we leverage power and we make a difference.”</p> <p>Mark Dunlea will be the Green candidate for comptroller and Michael Sussman will be the Green candidate for attorney general.<br /> <br /><strong>The Reform Party</strong><br />On Sunday, presumptive Republican gubernatorial nominee Marc Molinaro announced that Julie Killian, a former Rye City Council member, would be his lieutenant governor running mate. Killian recently lost a special election for a Westchester state Senate seat to Democrat Shelley Mayer. The pair is expected to form the top of the official ticket of the Republican and Conservative parties. Soon after the announcement, the Reform Party leadership voted to back Molinaro for governor and Killian for lieutenant governor.</p> <p>"Many thanks to Reform Party for its endorsement of Julie and me today,” Molinaro said in a statement. “Because no matter your political persuasion, if you are a New Yorker who desires reform, you know that the largest roadblock standing in the way is Andrew Cuomo. This state desperately needs change. Defeating Andrew Cuomo and breaking his iron grip over this corrupt state government is the only thing that will break down the floodgates and make change possible."</p> <p>The Reform Party is also backing former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara for attorney general, though Bharara has given no public indication he will accept the nomination or run for AG at all. The party also designated Chris Garvey, Nancy Regula, and Michael Diederich to run for attorney general, so there will be a Reform Party primary for AG. And, for comptroller the party is backing DiNapoli, who is likely to have the most ballot lines of any statewide candidate in November.</p> <p><strong>Democrats and Republicans</strong><br />This week will see the Democratic and Republican state party conventions, both occurring on Wednesday and Thursday, with the Democrats on Long Island and the Republicans in Manhattan. Molinaro and Killian are expected to formally earn and accept their nominations on Wednesday, while on Thursday Cuomo is expected to win and accept his party’s nomination for a third time, while Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul is expected to accept the party’s nomination for her position for a second time.</p> <p>It appears likely that Democratic state committee members will back Public Advocate James for attorney general, though one or more other candidates could earn the 25% of the vote needed to be automatically placed on the primary ballot. Teachout and Leecia Eve have indicated they will go to the convention to seek such backing. Cuomo endorsed James for attorney general on Tuesday, just before the convention.</p> <p>Along with the question of whether Teachout and/or Eve can earn the 25% to make the primary ballot for AG is whether Nixon and Williams go to the convention and win the 25% each to appear on Democratic primary ballots as well. If candidates do not qualify at the nominating convention, they can petition to get on the ballot by collecting signatures across the state. Randy Credico, a comedian and activist who also ran for governor in 2014 and New York City mayor in 2013, may also be mounting an effort to make the Democratic primary ballot.</p> <p>On Monday morning, Nixon announced her intention for the convention. "I am attending the convention because New York Democrats deserve to have at least one actual Democratic candidate for governor at their state convention," she said in a statement. "As Governor Cuomo has said himself, he's run this state in a way that would make any Republican proud. The Governor and his allies have bullied progressive community groups and rallied the full force of the big money establishment because they know he doesn't have any progressive credentials to stand on. But I won't be scared out of the room. New Yorkers deserve a choice."</p> <p>The Nixon campaign also indicated that Nixon has invited state committee members to a conference call to discuss her candidacy, though the details of the call were not provided.</p> <p>It’s not completely clear yet who will be the Republican nominee for attorney general, given that former AG Eric Schneiderman’s resignation changed the thinking for many potential candidates of various party affiliations, as well as party leaders. John Cahill, a former top aide to Governor George Pataki and the 2014 GOP nominee for AG was considering another bid but bowed out. Manny Alicandro and Keith Wofford have announced their candidacies.</p> <p>Jonathan Trichter is likely to be the GOP nominee for comptroller.</p> <p>State Democratic Party Executive Director Geoff Berman issued a statement on Saturday that took aim at the WFP and the GOP.</p> <p>“It is convention week in New York, and I am proud to be part of the Democratic Party as we head into our convention,” Berman wrote. “The state of the WFP today stands in stark contrast with the state of the Democratic Party. The union-founded party has no working families left after every union has left their ranks.”</p> <p>Berman went on to criticize WFP political director Bill Lipton for orchestrating the party’s attorney general nominations and Williams for “an anti-choice and anti-marriage equality record.” Williams has made many attempts, including during his WFP acceptance speech, to clarify his current stances in support of abortion access and marriage equality, but he has in the past expressed personal opinions against both.</p> <p>Berman called Molinaro a “Trump mini-me,” though Molinaro has said he didn’t vote for Trump in 2016. Molinaro does appear to be mostly aligned with Trump and congressional Republicans on policy, however. “Molinaro is anti choice, anti gun safety, anti LGBTQ, and part of Trump's property and income tax increase plan that ended State and Local deductibility,” Berman wrote, though Molinaro has expressed an ‘evolution’ on marriage equality and inclusiveness toward LGBT New Yorkers, and the Trump-led tax overhaul did not end such deductibility, it reduced it to $10,000 annually.</p> <p>It is evident that Berman, Cuomo, and other Democrats will attempt to tie Molinaro, Killian, and other Republicans to Trump, who is deeply unpopular overall in New York, though he retains some pockets of significant support in his home state. Molinaro and others will have to rally the Republican base while also appealing to moderates, including many party-unaffiliated voters, in order to win statewide, especially in a year in which Democrats are energized and in good position to swing multiple House and state Senate seats.</p> <p>One of the most important decisions of the weekend was Molinaro choosing Killian as a running mate. It’s not immediately clear that she will be of significant help as the Dutchess county executive attempts to become the first Republican governor since George Pataki. Killian has only held elected office as a Rye City Council member and was a deputy mayor, and she has lost her last two races.</p> <p>Republican sources indicated that the Molinaro campaign decided it was important to choose a woman for the ticket. Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo, who was a co-chair of the lieutenant governor candidate search committee for Molinaro, took herself out of the running after Molinaro was apparently strongly considering her, and may have made a better choice. With both Molinaro and Killian lukewarm toward Trump and from downstate, the ticket may not be best suited toward rallying the base or appealing to voters upstate or in western New York.</p> <p>"Julie Killian is a champion for people who have no voice, who are left behind, who are in crisis and she will never back down from the challenges that are facing our state. I'm proud to have Julie as my partner in this campaign to restore New Yorker's belief in the future of our state," Molinaro said in a statement.</p> <p>"Marc and I share a vision of New York, that is more affordable, accountable and accessible for all families and I am honored to join his team as a true partner, " said Killian.</p> <p>A press release from the Molinaro campaign called Killian “a strong campaigner to the key suburban battlegrounds” and noted that in her recent state Senate race she “significantly outperformed President Trump in Westchester in 2016.</p> <p>“Julie Killian stood out among many great picks to serve as @marcmolinaro’s running mate,” Dinolfo tweeted on Sunday. “As a former city councilwoman, she knows what it takes to run a government while protecting taxpayers. She will make a great LG!”</p> <p><strong>Other Parties</strong><br />The three other parties that have guaranteed ballot lines this year include the Independence Party -- which appears to be nominating Cuomo, Hochul, and DiNapoli -- and the Women’s Equality Party, which has not made its nominations yet, but will do so soon. The WEP is likely to back Cuomo, Hochul, and DiNapoli again this year -- the party was launched by Cuomo in 2014 as he attempted to undermine both his female Democratic primary opponent, Zephyr Teachout, and the WFP. It’s not clear if either party will make an attorney general choice, though the WEP did issue a call to interested candidates in the wake of Schneiderman's resignation.</p> <p>The Conservative Party appears set to cross-endorse the Republican ticket for statewide seats.</p> <p>The Libertarian Party, meanwhile, typically petitions to get a candidate on the ballot and has this year nominated Larry Sharpe for governor. Sharpe and the Libertarian Party are hoping to crack the 50,000-vote threshold to earn an automatic ballot line over the next four years. The party came close in 2010 with a different candidate, and Sharpe, who has been actively fundraising and campaigning, is seen as the strongest candidate the party has backed in several cycles.</p> <p>

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by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p> <p>Note: this story has been updated as events change and to include Larry Sharpe's Libertarian candidacy.</p>