Working Families Party

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Working Families Party
Founded 1998
Preceded by New Party
Headquarters 2 Nevins Street
Brooklyn, NY 11217
Ideology Social democracy[1]
Political position Center-left
Colors           Blue, White (official)
     Purple (customary)
Seats in the Senate
0 / 100
Seats in the House
0 / 435
0 / 50
State Upper House Seats
1 / 1,972
State Lower House Seats
1 / 5,411
Politics of United States
Political parties

The Working Families Party (WFP) is a minor political party in the United States, founded in New York in 1998. There are active chapters in New York, Connecticut, Oregon, New Jersey, Maryland, Washington D.C., Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Rhode Island, and Illinois.[2]

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 advocacy groups such as Citizen Action of New York and the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now.[3] The party's main concerns are jobs, healthcare, raising the minimum wage, universal paid sick days, the student debt crisis, higher taxes on the rich, public education, and energy and environmental reform. It has usually cross-endorsed progressive Democratic or Republican candidates through fusion voting, but will occasionally run its own candidates.


WFP follows the ideals of progressive politics,[4] describing itself as a "grass roots independent political organization".[5] Conservative writer Seth Lipsky of the New York Post describes WFP as "quasi-Marxist"[6] and some publications refer to WFP as the Tea Party of the Left.[7][8][9][10]

Electoral strategy[edit]

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.[citation needed]

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.

Some of the party's endorsed candidates include Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy, Chicago Mayoral Democratic Candidate Jesús "Chuy" García, US Senators Chris Murphy (CT) and Jeff Merkley (OR), New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, and New York City Public Advocate Letitia James.

In 2006, the party began ballot access drives in California,[11] Delaware, Massachusetts,[12] Oregon, and South Carolina.[13] In 2010 Oregon joined South Carolina and New York as states that allow fusion voting.

In 2015, NY WFP ran 111 of its candidates, winning 71 local offices.[14]

In 2015, the WFP endorsed Bernie Sanders in his campaign for U.S. President; its first national endorsement.[15]


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 the state minimum wage, which it had supported since its inception.

Paid sick days were enacted statewide 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.




In the fall of 2015, the Working Families Party conducted a combined membership-drive and open poll among its enrolled members on whom to endorse for President in 2016; the result being Bernie Sanders.[16] Official numbers were not disclosed but party spokesman and co-founder Dan Cantor said the results were "overwhelmingly" in favor of Sanders, with some sources stating it was a 87 to 12 to 1 percent vote with Sanders over Hillary Clinton and Martin O'Malley respectively.[17]


In February, Edwin Gomes was elected to District 23 of the Connecticut State Senate in a special election. He became the first candidate in the nation to win a state legislative office running solely as a nominee for the Working Families Party.[18] Gomes defeated Richard DeJesus (D), Quentin Dreher (R), and the non-affiliated Charles Hare and Kenneth H. Moales, Jr. in the special election on February 24. However, Senator Gomes previously served the district as State Senator as a Democrat and caucuses with the Democrats upon assuming office.


After considering Zephyr Teachout, the party re-endorsed Cuomo for New York Governor despite some dissatisfaction and frustration with his first term. In 2010 more than 150,000 of his votes came on the WFP line.[19] As of November 7, 2014, 120,425[20] votes came on the WFP line for Cuomo, less than in 2010 likely due to "dissatisfaction and frustration" dropping the party from Fourth to Fifth, behind the Conservative Party and the Green Party.


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[21] leader and organizer Christopher Donovan for Connecticut's 5th Congressional seat,[22] 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.[23]



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[dated info] members of the board.[24]


The South Carolina Working Families Party convention endorsed five candidates for state and local office.[25] One candidate, Eugene Platt, running for SC State House District 115, was also nominated by the South Carolina Green Party.[26] 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.[27] Cone was defeated by Horry County Republican Committee member Bob Conley in the Democratic Primary.

The Connecticut WFP helped elect congressman Jim Himes, defeating long-term Republican congressman Chris Shays.

The WFP endorsed Barack Obama for U.S. President on all their state lines.


The WFP elected two party members to the city council of Hartford, Connecticut.[28]


In South Carolina, WFP cross-endorsed Democratic party congressional nominees Randy Maatta, (District 1) and Lee Ballenger, (District 3).[29] In the SC State House elections, the WFP cross-endorsed Democratic Party candidates Anton Gunn (Kershaw, Richland), Eugene Platt (Charleston).[30] 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[dated info] 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.[31]


The state directors of the WFP are Bill Lipton (NY),[32] Lindsay Farrell (CT),[33] Kati Sipp (PA),[34] Karly Edwards (OR),[35] Charly Carter (MD),[36] Delvone Michael (DC),[37] Marina Dimitrijevic (WI),[38] and Chris Torres (RI).[39] WFP's national director is Dan Cantor.[40]


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).[41] Likewise, the editor of the World Socialist Web Site has called the WFP an "opportunist" party for its close work with the Democrats.[42]

In August 2009, the publication City Hall News raised questions as to whether the WFP pays rent erratically.[43] 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).[44][45][46] A New York Times editorial piece questioned whether DFS may be charging select clients below market rates for political services.[47][48] 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.[49]

In 2011 Connecticut WFP director Jon Green received a $10,000 fine for failing to wear his badge identifying him as a lobbyist while performing lobbying efforts.[50][51]

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Ball, Molly. "The Tea Party of the Left". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2016-01-25. 
  3. ^ "Dan Cantor's Machine". The American Prospect. 2014-01-06. Retrieved 2014-01-17. 
  4. ^ "Can the Working Families Party succeed in America?". openDemocracy. Retrieved 2016-01-25. 
  5. ^ "Maryland - Working Families". Working Families. Retrieved 2016-01-25. 
  6. ^ Lipsky, Seth. "Cuomo embraces risky popular vote campaign". New York Post. Retrieved 2016-01-25. 
  7. ^ "If the Left Had a Tea Party…". POLITICO Magazine. Retrieved 2016-01-25. 
  8. ^ Glauber, Bill. "Working Families Party seeks to tap Dimitrijevic as leader". Retrieved 2016-01-25. 
  9. ^ "Harry Siegel: The party pulling Democrats back to the left". NY Daily News. Retrieved 2016-01-25. 
  10. ^ "Cuomo caves to the Tea Party of the left | CNT". Retrieved 2016-01-25. 
  11. ^ Ballot Access News » Blog Archive » Working Families Party Qualified as “Political Body” in California
  12. ^ Ballot Access News » Blog Archive » Working Families Party of Massachusetts
  13. ^ Ballot Access News - June 1, 2006
  14. ^ Press, Associated. "Working Families Party goes local to broaden reach". Crain's New York Business. Retrieved 2016-01-25. 
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^ Cuomo Works to Mend Fences With Liberals
  20. ^ New York State Unofficial Election Night Results, retrieved November 7, 2014 
  21. ^ Connecticut Citizens Action Group
  22. ^ CT Working Family Party Endorses Donovan CT5
  23. ^ Email (2010-11-24). "With Malloy as governor, Working Families Party pushing paid sick days". The CT Mirror. Retrieved 2013-08-30. 
  24. ^ Keila Torre (2009-11-04). "Working Families candidates score Bridgeport breakthrough - Connecticut Post". Retrieved 2013-08-30. 
  25. ^ WFP Convention Update
  26. ^ [1][dead link]
  27. ^ Ballot Access News » Blog Archive » South Carolina Working Families Party Nominates
  28. ^ Ballot Access News » Blog Archive » Working Families Party Elected Two Members of Hartford, Connecticut City Council
  29. ^ search |
  30. ^ search |
  31. ^ NYS Board of Elections Governor Election Returns Nov. 3, 1998. 51,325 votes for Vallone on the WFP line.
  32. ^ "Working Families Party still wants Warren to run". Retrieved 2016-01-25. 
  33. ^ "Working Families Party Names New Executive Director". tribunedigital-thecourant. Retrieved 2016-01-25. 
  34. ^ Hurdle, Jon; Steinhauer, Jennifer (2015-02-13). "Democrats’ Convention Choice for 2016 Reflects a Philadelphia Resurgence". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-01-25. 
  35. ^ "Oregon Working Families Party: Minor party strives to be a major player in Oregon - nwLaborPress". nwLaborPress. Retrieved 2016-01-25. 
  36. ^ Vail, Bruce (2014-06-30). "Working Families Make Promising Debut in Maryland Elections". Retrieved 2016-01-25. 
  37. ^ DeBonis, Mike (2013-10-30). "D.C. Working Families coalition launches, targets minimum wage hike". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2016-01-25. 
  38. ^ Glauber, Bill. "Dimitrijevic to lead new Wisconsin Working Families Party". Retrieved 2016-01-25. 
  39. ^ Donnis, Ian. "Rhode Island Working Families Hires Chris Torres as State Director". Retrieved 2016-01-25. 
  40. ^ Ball, Molly. "The Tea Party of the Left". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2016-01-25. 
  41. ^ "Election Money Flows in 2010, But Voters Stay Home: Where is Everybody?". Counterpunch. November 5, 2010. 
  42. ^ "An exchange of letters on the Working Families Party". World Socialist Web Site. June 3, 2002. 
  43. ^ "Working Families Party has paid rent erratically for decade". 2009-08-19. Retrieved 2013-08-30. 
  44. ^ "Caught in the act: Working Families Party pulls election funding scam". Daily News (New York). September 3, 2009. 
  45. ^ "The Working Families Party Scam | Room Eight". Retrieved 2013-08-30. 
  46. ^
  47. ^ "Questions for Data and Field". The New York Times. August 22, 2009. 
  48. ^ "Working families charade". New York Post. September 8, 2009. 
  49. ^
  50. ^ Hartford Current, Executive Director Fined $10,000
  51. ^ CT News Junkie, Working Family Director Fined for Lobbying Without Badge

External links[edit]