By Alan S. Chartock | September 1, 2018

Let’s assume for the moment that Andrew Cuomo wins the primary against Cynthia Nixon. Then let’s assume that Nixon does what I don’t think she should do and gets off the Working Families Ballot, leaving that spot open. She does that because, like a good Democrat, she doesn’t want Mark Molinaro, the Republican, to win.

What happens then? Does the WFP committee on vacancies insert Andrew into the top spot on the Working Families list? Of course, I am only positing a “what if” scenario. Nixon could surprise everyone in an Ocasio-Cortez scenario and beat Cuomo. Considering Cuomo’s pay to play campaign piggy bank, that would be amazing. But, if the polls are correct and Nixon does lose, and if she does what the leadership under the influence of the labor union money that keeps the WFP going wishes and succumbs, then the question will be what might happen?

Let’s remember that there is still another independent candidate out there. That of course, is Stephanie Miner, the courageous, tough, smart former mayor of Syracuse, New York, who had the guts to throw away her top position under Andrew Cuomo and take the governor on in a no-holds-barred public fight over what she considered his misguided policies. To do that, she had to relinquish her position as Chair of the state Democratic Party and any chance that she might have had to move up as an elected official. Or did she?

Now she is running as an independent candidate on a sort of unification party that includes some Republican backers. Miner is given virtually no chance to win although she and her backers think that she might. So let’s try this one on for size. If Nixon bails and the WFP top spot comes open, why couldn’t Miner make the argument that she should be that party’s candidate? Since the labor money on the WFP will insist that Cuomo gets that top spot, let’s remember how the Working Families group has been split asunder. The voting members of the party insisted that the nomination went to Nixon, a progressive candidate, and not to Cuomo. Those voting members of the WFP never liked Cuomo. They remember his anti-union stance and the way in which he went after teachers and their union. Since that time, many of those union leaders have made their deals with Cuomo and all has been forgotten. That may be true of the leaders, but not the rank and file.

I talk to teachers around the state all the time and they will never forgive Cuomo for what they consider his early perfidy. They are still mad as hell and think that Cuomo’s radical anti-Nixon move to the left is pure opportunism. They believe his support for his corrupt cronies is enough to disqualify him as a gubernatorial candidate.

If Stephanie Miner puts herself forward as a Nixon substitute, many of those working people in the WFP might be mobilized to support her and to object to the labor leader money that wants to control the party by putting Cuomo into that top spot. The WFP is going to need 50,000 votes to keep their automatic ballot position and if they come up with a no-name, who-he, they are unlikely to get those 50,000 votes. Right? So if the rank and file in the WFP insist that Miner be given the position and that second line in the election, they will surely get those votes.

This scenario is hardly a done deal. Miner would have to mobilize the rank and file WFPers. Nixon might stay put where she belongs. The people backing Miner on her ersatz independent party might not go along which would be stupid. But to me this looks like a natural move forward. Andrew won’t like this idea. He has already burned his bridges with the WTF and I’ll bet he might end up wishing that he hadn’t.

Alan Chartock is professor emeritus at the State University of New York, publisher of the Legislative Gazette and president and CEO of the WAMC Northeast Public Radio Network. Readers can email him at [email protected].