New York WFP Scores Historic Wins in 2018 Primary

(Read this post on Medium.)

This primary season, Working Families Party activists went all out to challenge corporate control of democracy in New York. And because of you, New York will never be the same.

Together, we wiped the Independent Democratic Conference off the map. And while we may not have checkmated Andrew Cuomo, our progressive insurgency has completely remade the game around him.

For almost eight years, Cuomo did everything in his power to keep Republicans in control of the state Senate, including the creation of the IDC. Even when that meant millions of students in underfunded schools and universities, a crumbling transit system, and tens of thousands of New Yorkers locked in jails with no sentences just because they can’t afford bail. Even when it meant inaction on rent laws or immigration or climate or reproductive choice. And even as our voting and campaign finance laws remain in tatters.

Why did he do it? Because having Republicans in power allowed him to keep his wealthy donors happy by keeping their taxes low. Which in turn meant that real estate and Wall Street donors continued to fill his campaign coffers.

The system worked — but for the wrong people. Albany prioritized the demands of powerful donors, leaving the rest of us laboring for the occasional win that didn’t conflict with their core interests.

Since our founding, the Working Families Party has been fighting to wrestle power from the corporate-controlled wing of the Democratic Party to fight for a state — and a nation — that works for the many, not just the few. Over the past few months, Cynthia Nixon and Jumaane Williams showed us all what fierce, unapologetic progressive leadership in this fight looks like.

They courageously stood up to run on a vision of a state that puts working families first — even against all the odds, the big money, and the entire establishment. And Cuomo was forced to spend an astounding $25 million to stop them — money that would have otherwise have gone towards defending some of the same corporate Democrats in the legislature that we defeated on September 13th.

Cynthia and Jumaane helped inspire a progressive movement. Here’s just some of what that movement has already won this year:

We destroyed the IDC.

The IDC was the central force that allowed Andrew Cuomo to block real change in Albany. The mere prospect of Cynthia and Jumaane running led Cuomo to force them to dissolve (in name only) earlier this year — something he previously claimed he lacked the power to do. Then we closed the door on the IDC for good by defeating six of their eight members on primary day including leader Jeff Klein.

That’s nearly unprecedented. Over the last 12 years, there has never been a year in which more than three of New York’s 213 state legislators lost their primaries. On primary day, we defeated SEVEN corporate Democrats — almost A QUARTER of the entire Democratic conference — and replaced them with new progressive leaders.

Alessandra Biaggi, Robert Jackson, John Liu, Rachel May, Zellnor Myrie, Jessica Ramos, and Julia Salazar will bring historic generational and ideological change to the state Senate once they are elected in November.

We won major policy concessions from the governor.

This development is sometimes dubbed #TheCynthiaEffect — from marijuana legalization to voting rights restoration to funding commitments for public housing and the MTA to blocking new fossil fuel infrastructure to a new embrace of the labor movement he once demonized. And if we elect a Democratic majority to the state Senate in November, the policy agenda in Albany will shift even more dramatically.

For the first time, we will have a unified Democratic legislature that will be able to send progressive legislation like single payer, voting rights, campaign finance reform and more to the governor’s desk and force his hand. The fights for these issues and others still won’t be easy — but I know the movement we are building together will be up to it.

And together, we’ve built a massive, energized base of supporters.

Across New York state, turnout in this primary was up by over 200% from four years ago — in some areas by more than 300%. Working Families Party organizers and volunteers contacted hundreds of thousands of voters in races up and down the ballot. Tens of thousands of people gave their money, energy, and time to the Working Families Party and our insurgent candidates, who were running as part of our movement and on an unapologetically progressive platform.

Put it all together, and we’ve already changed New York politics forever.We should all take a moment to be proud of that and of our victories. But only a moment. Because we need to get right back to work.

I don’t have to tell you what’s on the line in the general election, Tuesday, November 6th.

  • We need to finally win a progressive Democratic majority in the state Senate led by Andrea Stewart Cousins, whose leadership Cuomo has fought to undermine for years. That means making sure the progressive wave comes crashing down on vulnerable Republicans in November so we flip at least one more seat (and hopefully many more).
  • We need to win back Congress — and the road for Democrats to win and finally gain the ability to put a check on Donald Trump runs right through swing Congressional districts in New York state.
  • We need to make sure that progressive champion and longtime WFP ally Tish James — who would the first Black woman ever elected statewide in New York — becomes our next Attorney General.
  • And in New York and across the country, we need to make history by electing progressives like Stacey Abrams for Governor in Georgia, Andrew Gillum for Governor in Florida, Randy “Ironstache” Bryce for Congress in Wisconsin, and hundreds of other WFP-backed candidates up and down the ballot.

None of our wins this primary season would have been possible without each and every one of you. We will need your support to win in November and to keep fighting beyond Election Day, too.

Politics comes down to organized money and organized people. Their side has the money — and without supporters like you on our side, we’d be nowhere.

Thank you for being a part of this.

In solidarity,

Bill Lipton
State Director
New York Working Families Party