EXCLUSIVE: Talks heating up between Cuomo, Working Families Party — deal could be imminent

Sources: In fevered negotiations occurring now, Cuomo could move left on key issues, nab WFP ballot line (UPDATED)

Topics: Working Families Party, The Left, Liberals, Andrew Cuomo, New York, 2014 elections, Governor, Editor's Picks,

EXCLUSIVE: Talks heating up between Cuomo, Working Families Party -- deal could be imminentAndrew Cuomo (Credit: AP/Mike Groll)

As the Working Families Party prepares to meet in Albany on Saturday to select law professor Zephyr Teachout as its gubernatorial candidate, an 11th-hour deal is being hashed out between the party and governor Andrew Cuomo that could leave that plan in shambles. According to numerous sources, talks are heating up Friday evening and a deal “could be imminent” that results in Cuomo getting the party’s ballot line. The line is particularly important to Cuomo because it would mean eliminating a vocal critic on his left, and would mean avoiding splitting votes with a candidate who polls showed could split his margin of victory in half.

One source cautioned that any arrangement reached between the sides would still have to be approved by the WFP’s state committee tomorrow, which is composed of activists who are not fond of Cuomo.

As for the contours of the deal, they would appear to include a shift by the governor that would include declaring a new progressive agenda, expressing a newfound devotion to key planks of the party’s platform such as public financing of elections, a DREAM Act and a minimum wage increase. To overcome the problem of much of the party not trusting the governor’s word, the agenda would be unveiled at a big public event with WFP allies, perhaps as soon as this weekend, in which the governor would stand with key players of the state’s institutional left (including de Blasio) — and declare his support for it.

As I reported yesterday:

As described in today’s Times, one scenario being considered is one in which the governor would hold a public event “express[ing] his intent to help the Democrats reclaim the [state] Senate” if Republicans fail to pass a public financing bill. But several insiders say that it will take much more than this to sell the party’s rank and file on a governor they see as the biggest enemy to their economic agenda. These sources say that to have a chance to get members to back Cuomo, it may require something along the lines of a big kumbaya-type press conference with all the major players of the state’s institutional left — the governor, Mayor Bill de Blasio (who is playing a real peacemaking role behind the scenes), WFP and major labor unions — coming together to declare several things.

First, the united groups — including unions like 1199 and the Hotel Trades Council, which backed a Republican state Senate in recent years — would declare the need for a Democratic state Senate. For WFP members to be interested, they’d like to see the governor say he will help fund primary challenges to the Independent Democratic Caucus — a band of breakaway Democrats now caucusing with Republicans — with millions of dollars if they don’t rejoin the party in earnest. Further, they’d want to see him put real money and energy behind an effort to peel off additional seats for Democrats, ensuring a lasting Senate majority that has eluded Democrats — and real progressive governance in the state — for decades. Finally, party activists say they want to hear the governor declare his intent to deliver a progressive wish-list including not only public financing of elections, but other items like a minimum wage increase and Dream Act.

While the party’s members do not trust the governor’s word — because he’s pledged fealty to progressive agenda items in the past, but declined to deliver — the thinking here is that if unions and the mayor are there to enforce this plan, it would assume greater legitimacy.

It’s not clear at this time which of these components would be included in such a deal — of if the deal will even get finalized. But talks are definitely heating up and have several insiders convinced an agreement could come soon.

More details as we get them…

Update, 5/30/14, 10:30 p.m.: Sources say New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio was a key force in uniting the disparate entities here: WFP activists, unions and Cuomo. Further, the deal being discussed now has been on the table for several weeks, an insider says, with the WFP apparently, suddenly realizing it was in its interests to proceed.

Update, 5/30/14, 11:20 p.m.: Several sources associated with WFP caution that the party’s state committee is not guaranteed to bless any deal the leadership makes with the governor. “There are serious trust issues between them and the governor,” one explains. All of which means that Saturday’s convention will be very interesting.

Blake Zeff is the politics editor of Salon. Email him at bzeff@salon.com and follow him on Twitter at @blakezeff.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 7
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    AP/Jae C. Hong

    Your summer in extreme weather

    California drought

    Since May, California has faced a historic drought, resulting in the loss of 63 trillion gallons of water. 95.4 percent of the state is now experiencing "severe" drought conditions, which is only a marginal improvement from 97.5 percent last week.

    A recent study published in the journal Science found that the Earth has actually risen about 0.16 inches in the past 18 months because of the extreme loss of groundwater. The drought is particularly devastating for California's enormous agriculture industry and will cost the state $2.2 billion this year, cutting over 17,000 jobs in the process.


    Meteorologists blame the drought on a large zone (almost 4 miles high and 2,000 miles long) of high pressure in the atmosphere off the West Coast which blocks Pacific winter storms from reaching land. High pressure zones come and go, but this one has been stationary since December 2012.

    Darin Epperly

    Your summer in extreme weather

    Great Plains tornadoes

    From June 16-18 this year, the Midwest was slammed by a series of four tornadoes, all ranking as category EF4--meaning the winds reached up to 200 miles per hour. An unlucky town called Pilger in Nebraska was hit especially hard, suffering through twin tornadoes, an extreme event that may only occur every few decades. The two that swept through the town killed two people, injured 16 and demolished as many as 50 homes.   

    "It was terribly wide," local resident Marianne Pesotta said to CNN affiliate KETV-TV. "I drove east [to escape]. I could see how bad it was. I had to get out of there."   

    But atmospheric scientist Jeff Weber cautions against connecting these events with climate change. "This is not a climate signal," he said in an interview with NBC News. "This is a meteorological signal."

    AP/Detroit News, David Coates

    Your summer in extreme weather

    Michigan flooding

    On Aug. 11, Detroit's wettest day in 89 years -- with rainfall at 4.57 inches -- resulted in the flooding of at least five major freeways, leading to three deaths, more than 1,000 cars being abandoned on the road and thousands of ruined basements. Gov. Rick Snyder declared it a disaster. It took officials two full days to clear the roads. Weeks later, FEMA is finally set to begin assessing damage.   

    Heavy rainfall events are becoming more and more common, and some scientists have attributed the trend to climate change, since the atmosphere can hold more moisture at higher temperatures. Mashable's Andrew Freedman wrote on the increasing incidence of this type of weather: "This means that storms, from localized thunderstorms to massive hurricanes, have more energy to work with, and are able to wring out greater amounts of rain or snow in heavy bursts. In general, more precipitation is now coming in shorter, heavier bursts compared to a few decades ago, and this is putting strain on urban infrastructure such as sewer systems that are unable to handle such sudden influxes of water."

    AP/The Fresno Bee, Eric Paul Zamora

    Your summer in extreme weather

    Yosemite wildfires

    An extreme wildfire burning near Yosemite National Park forced authorities to evacuate 13,000 nearby residents, while the Madera County sheriff declared a local emergency. The summer has been marked by several wildfires due to California's extreme drought, which causes vegetation to become perfect kindling.   

    Surprisingly, however, firefighters have done an admirable job containing the blazes. According to the L.A. Times, firefighters with the state's Department of Forestry and Fire Protection have fought over 4,000 fires so far in 2014 -- an increase of over 500 fires from the same time in 2013.

    Reuters/Eugene Tanner

    Your summer in extreme weather

    Hawaii hurricanes

    Hurricane Iselle was set to be the first hurricane to make landfall in Hawaii in 22 years. It was downgraded to a tropical storm and didn't end up being nearly as disastrous as it could have been, but it still managed to essentially shut down the entire state for a day, as businesses and residents hunkered down in preparation, with many boarding up their windows to guard against strong gusts. The storm resulted in downed trees, 21,000 people out of power and a number of damaged homes.

    Debbie Arita, a local from the Big Island described her experience: "We could hear the wind howling through the doors. The light poles in the parking lot were bobbing up and down with all the wind and rain."


    Your summer in extreme weather

    Florida red tide

    A major red tide bloom can reach more than 100 miles along the coast and around 30 miles offshore. Although you can't really see it in the above photo, the effects are devastating for wildlife. This summer, Florida was hit by an enormous, lingering red tide, also known as a harmful algae bloom (HAB), which occurs when algae grow out of control. HABs are toxic to fish, crabs, octopuses and other sea creatures, and this one resulted in the death of thousands of fish. When the HAB gets close enough to shore, it can also have an effect on air quality, making it harder for people to breathe.   

    The HAB is currently closest to land near Pinellas County in the Gulf of Mexico, where it is 5-10 miles offshore.

  • Recent Slide Shows


Loading Comments...