Former Council Speaker-turned-Gov. Andrew Cuomo-surrogate Christine Quinn today insisted that the governor’s new “Women’s Equality Party” line is not–contrary to progressive claims–an attempt to knock the labor-backed Working Families Party off the ballot.
Speaking on the Brian Lehrer Show, Ms. Quinn strongly denied that the Women’s Equality Party was about anything other than advancing the Women’s Equality Agenda, a 10-point plan that would codify a number of anti-discrimination statutes as well as the legal right to an abortion. The Republican-dominated State Senate has refused to let the latter element pass.
“I think the existence of the Women’s Equality Party will make progressive politics, the Working Families Party, the Democratic Party stronger,” Ms. Quinn said. “This isn’t about hurting the Working Families Party.”
Some critics have argued that Mr. Cuomo–who reportedly facilitated the arrangement between the GOP and the breakaway Independent Democratic Conference to maintain control of the upper house of the legislature–created the Women’s Equality Party as a means to siphon support away from the Working Families Party, in order to deny them the 50,000 votes needed to remain on the ballot. The left-leaning WFP reluctantly endorsed the fiscally conservative governor at its convention earlier this year after he agreed to help flip the Senate back into Democratic hands and to push for a host of liberal issues.
Ms. Quinn, however, recalled that she supported the WFP–then in its infancy–when she first ran for Council, despite complaints from fellow Democrats. She argued that the party will easily get the 50,000 votes it needs, and that the WEP does not threaten it.
“People said this was going to destroy the Democratic Party, don’t do it,” Ms. Quinn recounted. “The Working Families Party, to its credit and because of its hard work, is a really well-established, strong entity in New York.”
Ms. Quinn, despite openly acknowledging that Mr. Cuomo created the WEP, touted the new ballot line as “the first time in history women have come together to form their own party.” She argued that, if it achieved permanent ballot status, it would operate as an entity independent from the governor.
“Will the governor probably want to be involved in that? Maybe, I don’t know. But it’s impossible for one person to control a party,” she said, noting that none of the WFP’s constituent unions wholly control it. “It’s impossible for one labor leader to control that party.”
Ms. Quinn also tangentially addressed the role the IDC and Mr. Cuomo played in preventing the passage of the Women’s Equality Agenda, noting that all of them have signed onto the WEP’s pledge to get the legislation passed.
“There is no question that the IDC, as they called themselves, were not helpful in moving the Women’s Equality Agenda forward,” she said. “The problems were summed up in, the Women’s Equality Act was not passed. We can spend time parsing exactly why that happened and assigning blame, or we can move forward.”
Of the 17 candidates running on the WEP line in November, 11 are male.