Working Families Party
|Working Families Party of New York|
|Headquarters||2 Nevins Street
Brooklyn, NY 11217
|Political position||Center-left to Left-wing|
|Colors||Blue and White|
|Politics of the United States
The Working Families Party (WFP) was founded in New York in 1998 and is classified as a minor political party in the United States. There are active chapters in New York, Connecticut, and Oregon, and it is growing, with initiatives in South Carolina, Delaware, and Vermont, and offshoots in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania.
New York's Working Families Party was first organized in 1998 by a coalition of labor unions, community organizations, members of the now-inactive national New Party, and a variety of public interest groups such as Citizen Action of New York and Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. The party's main concerns are jobs, healthcare, raising the minimum wage, universal paid sick days, the student debt crisis, winning higher taxes on the rich, defending public education and energy/environment reform. It has usually cross-endorsed progressive Democratic or Republican candidates through fusion voting, but will occasionally run its own candidates.
The state directors of the WFP are Bill Lipton (NY), Lindsay Farrell (CT), and Steve Hughes (OR). Some of the party's most prominent endorsed candidates include United States Senators Chris Murphy (CT) and Jeff Merkley (OR), New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy, and New York City Public Advocate Letitia James.
Like other minor parties in the state, the WFP benefits from New York's electoral fusion laws that allow the party to support another party's candidate when they feel it aligns with their platform. This allows sympathetic voters to support a minor party without feeling like they are "wasting" their vote. Usually, the WFP endorses the Democratic Party candidate, but it has occasionally endorsed moderate Republican Party candidates as a strategy for spurring bi-partisan action on its policy priorities. The support of the WFP is sometimes quite important in Democratic primaries.
In some cases, the WFP has put forward its own candidates. In the chaotic situation following the assassination of New York City councilman James E. Davis by political rival Othniel Askew, the slain councilman's brother Geoffrey Davis was chosen to succeed him in the Democratic primary. As it became clear that Geoffrey Davis lacked his late brother's political experience, fellow Democrat Letitia James decided to challenge him in the general election on the WFP ticket and won Brooklyn's 35th City Council district as the first third-party candidate elected there in 30 years.
In 2006, the party began ballot access drives in California, Delaware, Massachusetts, Oregon, and South Carolina. In 2010 Oregon joined South Carolina and New York as states that allow fusion voting.
The WFP was launched with the agenda of well-paying jobs, affordable housing, accessible health care, better public schools and more investment in public services.
In 2004 in New York and 2014 in Connecticut, the WFP saw the enactment of one of its highest legislative priorities, an increase in State minimum wage, which it had supported since its inception.
Paid sick days were enacted state-wide in Connecticut in 2011, and city-wide in both New York City and Portland, Oregon in 2013.
Another major platform of the WFP is to defeat the "Rockefeller drug laws" in New York State, remnant from when Nelson Rockefeller was Governor. The WFP contributed largely to the victory of David Soares to Albany County District Attorney whose platform was based on reforming drug policy, while generally taking a less punitive approach to criminal justice.
There is doubt cast as to whether the party will re-endorse Cuomo for New York Governor as there is some dissatisfaction and frustration with his first term. This could be a significant blow to the Governor as in 2010 more than 150,000 of his votes came on the WFP line.
In November 2013 the Party endorsed the successful New York City candidates Bill de Blasio for Mayor, Letitia James for Public Advocate, and Scott Stringer for Comptroller, as well as a dozen WFP-backed candidates to the City Council, dramatically growing the Progressive Caucus. The Working Families ballot line contributed 42,640 votes to de Blasio's total of 795,679 votes, and 53,821 to James's total of 814,879 votes.
In Connecticut, the WFP backed Chris Murphy's successful race against billionaire Linda McMahon for the US Senate seat that was vacated by Joe Lieberman, supported SEIU/CCAG leader and organizer Christopher Donovan for Connecticut's 5th Congressional seat, as well as defeated a ballot initiative in Bridgeport, Connecticut that would have abolished the elected board of education. In Oregon, the WFP backed Jeff Reardon for state house, a challenger who defeated Democrat Mike Schaufler in the Primary. The party opposed Schaufler's conservative record on taxes, healthcare and the environment.
Andrew Cuomo, the Democratic nominee for Governor of New York, accepted the Working Families Party cross-endorsement. Cuomo ran with the WFP's endorsement, because the WFP accepted his policy positions.
In the same year, the Connecticut WFP endorsed Dannel Malloy for governor. He received 26,308 votes as a Working Families candidate, putting him ahead of his Republican opponent, and securing ballot access for the party in that state.
The WFP endorsed several candidates for local offices, Bill Thompson for New York City mayor, Bill de Blasio for Public Advocate, and Corey Ellis for Albany mayor. Ellis did very well in the Albany mayoral election, 2009, coming in second ahead of the Republican candidate. The WFP also backed eight new members of the city council, including Brad Lander and Jumaane Williams, who helped create the New York City Council Progressive Caucus.
Two candidates for the Board of Education in Bridgeport, Connecticut were also WFP-supported and are now members of the board.
The South Carolina Working Families Party convention endorsed five candidates for state and local office. One candidate, Eugene Platt, running for SC State House District 115, was also nominated by the South Carolina Green Party. The nomination of Michael Cone for the US Senate race, opposing incumbent Lindsey Graham, marked the first time the party nominated anyone for statewide office. Cone was defeated by Horry County Republican Committee member Bob Conley in the Democratic Primary.
The WFP endorsed Barack Obama for U.S. President on all their state lines.
In South Carolina, WFP cross-endorsed Democratic party congressional nominees Randy Maatta, (District 1) and Lee Ballenger, (District 3). In the SC State House elections, the WFP cross-endorsed Democratic Party candidates Anton Gunn (Kershaw, Richland), Eugene Platt (Charleston). In New York, the WFP cross-endorsed the statewide Democratic Party slate.
In Massachusetts, Rand Wilson won enough votes in the general election for State Auditor to guarantee the Working Families Party ballot access in the following election. Wilson garnered 19% of the vote in the head to head race against Democratic incumbent Joe DeNucci, allowing ballot access in 2008. However the ballot initiative, "question 2", that would allow candidates to be nominated by more than one party failed. The WFP in Massachusetts dubbed the question 2 campaign, "Spinach for Democracy."
Patricia Eddington of the WFP was elected to the New York State Assembly. In the 2002 election, the Liberal Party, running Andrew Cuomo (who had withdrawn from the Democratic primary), and the Green Party, running academic Stanley Aronowitz, failed to reach that threshold and lost the ballot lines they had previously won. This left the WFP as the only left-progressive minor party with a ballot line. This situation will continue until at least 2011 following the party's cross-endorsement of Eliot Spitzer in the 2006 election, in which he received more than 155,000 votes on the Working Families Party line, more than three times the required 50,000.
In the 1998 election for governor of New York, the party cross-endorsed the Democratic Party candidate, Peter Vallone. Because he received more than 50,000 votes on the WFP line, the party gained an automatic ballot line for the succeeding four years.
Criticism and controversy
Some left-wing commentators have criticized the WFP for being insufficiently committed to progressive principles. Following the 2010 New York State gubernatorial election, Billy Wharton argued that Andrew Cuomo obtained significant concessions from the WFP by initially refusing their endorsement (and thus jeopardizing their ballot access). Likewise, the editor of the World Socialist Web Site has called the WFP an "opportunist" party for its close work with the Democrats.
In August 2009, the publication City Hall News raised questions as to whether the WFP pays rent erratically. Political parties are required to pay rent in order to ensure that no party is getting an unfair monetary advantage over others, and the parties are required to report all money paid out for expenditures.
In the same month, various media raised questions about the relationship between the WFP, a non-profit political party, and a for-profit private company called Data and Field Services (DFS). A New York Times editorial piece questioned whether DFS may be charging select clients below market rates for political services. In August 2010, the federal investigation into the party ended with no charges being filed, and no charges being referred to other law enforcement agencies.
- http://www.workingfamiliesparty.org/about/wfp-in-other-states/ WFP in Other States
- Pennsylvania gets its First Working Families Party office holder
- "Dan Cantor's Machine". The American Prospect. 2014-01-06. Retrieved 2014-01-17.
- Ballot Access News » Blog Archive » Working Families Party Qualified as “Political Body” in California
- Ballot Access News » Blog Archive » Working Families Party of Massachusetts
- Ballot Access News - June 1, 2006
- http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/12/nyregion/cuomo-works-to-mend-fences-with-liberals.html?_r=0 Cuomo Works to Mend Fences With Liberals
- Connecticut Citizens Action Group
- CT Working Family Party Endorses Donovan CT5
- Email (2010-11-24). "With Malloy as governor, Working Families Party pushing paid sick days". The CT Mirror. Retrieved 2013-08-30.
- Keila Torre (2009-11-04). "Working Families candidates score Bridgeport breakthrough - Connecticut Post". Ctpost.com. Retrieved 2013-08-30.
- WFP Convention Update
- [dead link]
- Ballot Access News » Blog Archive » South Carolina Working Families Party Nominates
- Ballot Access News » Blog Archive » Working Families Party Elected Two Members of Hartford, Connecticut City Council
- search | SCVotes.org
- search | SCVotes.org
- NYS Board of Elections Governor Election Returns Nov. 3, 1998. 51,325 votes for Vallone on the WFP line.
- "Election Money Flows in 2010, But Voters Stay Home: Where is Everybody?". Counterpunch. November 5, 2010.
- "An exchange of letters on the Working Families Party". World Socialist Web Site. June 3, 2002.
- "Working Families Party has paid rent erratically for decade". Therealdeal.com. 2009-08-19. Retrieved 2013-08-30.
- "Caught in the act: Working Families Party pulls election funding scam". Daily News (New York). September 3, 2009.
- "The Working Families Party Scam | Room Eight". R8ny.com. Retrieved 2013-08-30.
- "Questions for Data and Field". The New York Times. August 22, 2009.
- "Working families charade". New York Post. September 8, 2009.
- Hartford Current, Executive Director Fined $10,000
- CT News Junkie, Working Family Director Fined for Lobbying Without Badge
- Newfield, J., "Working Families Party Takes Place at the Table", The New York Sun, 11 Nov, 2003.
- Working Families Party website
- Connecticut Working Families Party website
- Delaware Working Families Party website
- Oregon Working Families Party website
- South Carolina Working Families Party website
- Winger, Richard (2008-05-21). "South Carolina Working Families Party Nominates". Ballot Access News. Retrieved 2008-05-23.
- "Affidavits: Ballot abuse rampant". Retrieved 2009-09-30.
- Freedlander, David (2013-11-05). "Bill de Blasio Mayoral Win Signals Working Families Party Ascendancy". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 2013-11-05.