Remembering Fred Newman

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Fred Newman

A controversial leader within the New York City Independence Party — whose ballot line provided the margin of victory to Mayor Bloomberg’s last two re-election campaigns — passed away today Sunday, his aides confirmed.

He was 76.

Newman’s brand of psychotherapy was critically examined by a number of outlets including NY1, who, in 2007, suggested he approved of therapists having sex with their patients. His critics referred to him as a “cult leader.”

His supporters, obviously, saw him differently.

“All who knew him will remember him as a fierce champion for giving the best, most sophisticated, most far-reaching tools of postmodern philosophy to ordinary people,” wrote Independence Party member Nancy Hanks supporters wrote in a paid obit that appeared in the New York Times today.

Newman yielded an unprecedented amount of influence of the Independence Party in New York City, which was controlled by his allies, Dr. Lenora Fulani, strategist Jackie Salit, Cathy Stewart, Harry Kresky and others. The City apparatus was a crucial vehicle to electing Michael Bloomberg to three terms at City Hall in this overwhelmingly Democratic town.

The state party chairman, Frank Mackay, was constantly at war with Newman’s faction, and at one point, kicked Fulani off their executive board. Today, MacKay said Newman would be missed.

“I’ve disagreed adamantly with Fred on the handling of issues…and have not spoken to him in the last six years,” said MacKay. ” But I would be remiss not to acknowledge the body of work that Dr. Newman has amassed in the field of independent politics. When the ultimate book is written on independence politics, there would have to be a whole section devoted to Fred Newman.”

Among the organizations Newman had ties to was The All Stars Project, which counseled at risk youth.

In recent years, Newman’s health was visibly worsening. He appeared at the Independence Party’s national gathering in a wheel chair, discussing, at length, his views about modern politics and the power of third party politics.

He also maintained a regular email blast about his ruminations and reactions to the Sunday political talk shows that I found quite addictive.

Remembering Fred Newman