New York Democrat to face third party challenge from unlikely foe

The Working Families Party in New York is seriously considering running a candidate against Democratic congressman Mike Arcuri because of his “no” vote on the health reform bill.  Typically, the Working Families Party cross-endorses Democratic candidates through a practice called fusion, where multiple parties can endorse the same candidate.  However, in this case, the party feels that “this is a fault-line moment.”  Republicans, on the other hand, are hoping they can benefit having two candidates in the race who are perceived as being less conservative than them.  The powerful union SEIU is also saying that they would support a potential third party candidate.

New York’s Working Families Party, which has outsized influence in state politics and its own ballot line, is actively recruiting a candidate to run against Upstate Rep. Mike Arcuri, who says he’ll vote against health care legislation.

“If Rep. Arcuri sides with the insurance companies against the middle-class and working-class voters of his district, they’ll go elsewhere, and we are in active conversation with several people who we think would make excellent third-line challengers in this race,” WFP executive director Dan Cantor told me.

The party prides itself on not playing the spoiler, but “this is a fault-line moment,” Cantor said. “This is the most important vote he will cast in his career in Congress.”

Arcuri won his seat by nearly 10,000 votes, and won more than 9,000 of them on the Working Families line, so just denying him the line — much less running a serious challenge — could cost him his seat.

15 thoughts on “New York Democrat to face third party challenge from unlikely foe

  1. Michael Cavlan RN

    Well I am no fan of the Green Party BUT……
    it is pretty obvious that the Working Families Party is making sure that the Greens do not gain ballot access..

    That is the ONLY reason that they are running against a Democrat.

  2. Ross Levin Post author

    Michael, I don’t know about that. I don’t know if they’re giving a thought to the Green Party. This doesn’t seem connected to Greens at all. Plus, I’m pretty sure they’ve cross-endorsed Greens before.

  3. LibertarianBlue

    I cant confirm this or not but Roger Stone claims that the WF Party isnt a party but just a Dem money shill. His claims are that the party has no central headquarters nor any chapters through out the state. I checked the website awhile ago and his claim did pan out but I havent looked much beyond that.

  4. Ross Levin Post author

    From what I’ve read, they’re a group that does a lot of work “on the ground” for Democrats. Basically, Democrats pay them to knock on peoples’ doors and give them a ballot line and such, and the WFP gets some power within the Democratic party and the opportunity to do things like this. They’ve had some corruption problems lately, though, iirc.

  5. Michael Cavlan RN

    That is my understanding of WFP too.

    They are a group shilling for the Democrats. Nothing more and nothing less.

  6. Ross Levin Post author

    Well, here they seem to be a bit more. I’ve also seen them cross endorse a Green or two and run some candidates of their own.

  7. Dear .......... Thinkers

    think that socialists [and, yes, Communist] would soooooooooo disagree with these mis – statements:

    “Green candidates and party leaders said today that the passage of the Democratic health care bill, with its increased financial burdens on millions of Americans, should not slow the movement for Medicare For All (single-payer national health care).

    Physicians for a National Health Program said in a statement on Monday, “Instead of eliminating the root of the problem — the profit-driven, private health insurance industry — this costly new legislation will enrich and further entrench these firms.

    The bill would require millions of Americans to buy private insurers’ defective products, and turn over to them vast amounts of public money.”

    —– Rich Whitney, Green Party candidate for Governor of Illinois: ‘Greens are the only avenue to public health care ……..’

    “Libs are the only 21st Century Peace Party”

    ——– Doctor George Phillies

  8. Dave Schwab

    Here’s my take on the WFP:

    Local WFP chapters do sometimes cross-endorse candidates with the Green Party, as in the case of Russell Ziemba of Troy in 2009.

    However, even in local races, the WFP’s general approach is to try to endorse the candidate who is most likely to win the Democratic primary. Then they can claim credit if that candidate wins the Dem primary and the election, thereby staking out more influence for themselves in the Democratic Party by casting themselves as indispensible to Democratic fortunes.

    In practice, this means that they don’t even endorse the more progressive Democrat much of the time. For example, in the 2009 NYC city council elections, WFP backed corrupt speaker Christine Quinn, who enabled Bloomberg’s illegal run for a third term, against progressive challenger Yetta Kurland. Kurland narrowly lost the Democratic primary. WFP support very well could have been the margin that helped a corrupt machine insider defeat a grassroots progressive.

    Why would WFP do that? Because they want power with the machine. They claim they want to coopt the Democratic Party, but as usual, it’s not clear who’s really getting coopted.

    They also locked out Billy Talen from their 2009 candidates’ forum, even though he fulfilled all the requirements to attend. Via twitter, WFP claimed that he didn’t submit their paperwork, then when Talen replied that he did, they stopped responding. In the end, WFP skipped over progressive Tony Avella to endorse machine candidate Bill Thompson. In my opinion, they locked out Billy Talen because they didn’t want to have a Green upstaging their anointed candidate.

    On the state level, WFP has been instrumental in helping the Democrats suppress the Green Party. In 2006, Cindy Sheehan endorsed the Green peace slate… then the WFP sent out a mailing (guess where they get their money) claiming that Sheehan had endorsed their strategy of “sending an anti-war message” by voting for pro-war candidates on the WFP line. WFP constantly bashed Nader and Greens by calling us spoilers. They are Democrats, all right. That year, we missed regaining ballot status by less than 10,000 votes.

  9. Dave Schwab

    This article gives some sense of the cash flow between the Democratic Party and the WFP:

    2006 Green candidate for NY gov Malachy McCourt responds to WFP’s misuse of Cindy Sheehan quote:

    Democrat Jonathan Tasini on the WFP’s hypocrisy:

    “I understand politics without principle–but hypocrisy doesn’t do it for me. Here’s what the Working Families Party had to say to the press about the Senate race:

    For Immediate Release: September 19, 2006

    Executive Director of the Working Families Party

    “Like Jonathan Tasini, the Working Families Party opposes the war in Iraq. It has not made us safer, and hundreds of billions of dollars are being spent overseas that should be directed to pressing needs at home.

    The WFP also enthusiastically supports Hillary Clinton for U.S. Senate.

    Voters who oppose the war should vote for Hillary Clinton, the best candidate for the job, on the Working Families Party line, because doing so will send a message that it’s time to bring the troops home.”

    I’ll have more to say about this next week (I’m headed out for a few days to read and sleep but keep discussing issues here) but this is absurd and pathetic.

    It’s one thing to abandon your principles and support a pro-war Democrat to simply curry favor and get votes for your party. But, then, to tell voters to vote for a pro-war Democrat as a way to protest the war…I’m sorry, that is simply ugly. It is entirely disrespectful of the tens of thousands of people who were killed in this war.

    It’s one reason I can assure the WFP I will not be voting for any of the party’s candidates–and I urge every other person to shun the WFP in this election. That is the way to send a message to the WFP.”

  10. Trent Hill

    “then the WFP sent out a mailing (guess where they get their money)”

    Mostly from the Local 1099, an activist union that pumps a million dollars or so into their budget. It is certainly true that the WFP isn’t totally independent of the Democrats–far from it. But to claim they’re lapdogs is silly too, since this very article says they won’t be backing some Democratic incumbents and are considering running against them. They also have several county legislators and locally elected officials who ran against Democrats and won.

  11. dameocrat

    Most who want a left alternative to the dems wanted public option not mandates. They aren’t a true third party in my view. I wish their were a green challenger in this one.

  12. Ian Wilder

    Though some upstate WFP locals are still allowed to be independent by the state organization, overall they are just a shill for the Democrats. That has been shown again and again. In 2006 they tried to convince voters to vote for pro-war Clinton, Spitzer and Cuomo as anti-war message. And then never mentioned the war again. Unfortunately, one voter they convinced of this astroturf concept was Pete Seeger who did ads for them. This strategy was a direct attack on the Green Party Ballot access drive.

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