I was surprised and disappointed to see that the Working Families Party chose to not throw the weight of its endorsement behind Andre Stewart-Cousins in her race against Nick Spano for New York State senate.
At a time when the utter dysfunction in Albany is a clarion call to voters in New York tired of the Albany gridlock, it's crucial for those who stand in principled opposition to do just that: stand in opposition.
Stewart-Cousins lost the last election to the entrenched Spano by a mere 18 votes. Today there are charges swirling around Spano of minority-voter intimidation - believable because he is likely to lose, yet is desperate to keep his grip on power.
Take a look at Tom Watson's excellent open letter to Future Governer Spitzer on the matter:
Ben Smith, political reporter for the NY Daily News has this to say on the News' political blog The Daily Politics:
The energy of Eliot Spitzer's appeals on behalf of the Working Families Party (one place where he differs from the New York Times) have raised some eyebrows. It's not just that he's running on the line: He's recorded a robo-call, which went out to a Working Families list of about 160,000 voters, along with a similar email.
Here's the call script:
I am honored to have the support of the Working Families Party and its members. In a few short years, the WFP has gone from a fledgling movement to a major force in state politics. The reason for this dramatic rise should be obvious – the party knows what it stands for and fights for what it believes. This extraordinary passion and commitment can help change the direction of our state. Please consider voting for me on the Working Families Party line.
For Working Families, votes are power, getting it the leverage of a ballot line. But what's in it for Spitzer? On one hand, bumping Working Families past the Conservative Party on the ballot could marginally help Democrats in 2008. On the other, as Tom Watson notes, Working Families isn't helping Democrats in one key race tomorrow.
What's more, an empowered Working Families could actually prove a headache to Spitzer down the line. The group is essentially a labor-union backed operation, whose backers specific legislative asks. And it has at times put its policy wishes quite clearly: higher taxes on the rich and more spending, two things that Spitzer has pledged to avoid.