Gov. Cuomo's political triangulation during this budget season has left an assortment of liberal Democrats looking for the eject button while riding shotgun in the governor's re-election cruiser.
Dan Cantor, the head of the state's Working Families Party, is appearing on "Inside City Hall" tonight where he'll likely address organized labor's dissatisfaction with the governor. Speaking on MSNBC yesterday, Cantor talked briefly about how his party members are unhappy with the Cuomo administration when it comes to economic issues, including some of his tax cuts. Environmental activists are also furious with the governor for not taking a position against the form of natural gas drilling known as hydrofracking while immigration advocates are wondering if Cuomo did all he could to push forward the Dream Act, a bill that would give college financial aid to illegal immigrants.
Cantor's party is in a bind because the race for governor is what determines the political viability of the state's third parties. If your candidate gets 50,000 votes in November, you get an automatic ballot line for the next four years in every race across the state. If you fail to do that, you have to petition to get your candidate on the ballot in future races, an extremely time-consuming and onerous process.
The state's Liberal Party went the way of the dinosaur after endorsing Cuomo for governor in 2002 and then seeing him drop out of the race, netting only about 16,000 votes on Election Day. Backing Eliot Spitzer in 2002 and Cuomo in 2006, the Working Families Party ballot line easily reached its survival benchmark, getting about 155,000 votes in each of those two elections.
But now the WFP is facing a political dilemma: swallow some of its principles and back the governor and get 50,000 votes or endorse a protest candidate who is likely an unknown and fight hard for the party's survival. It would not be surprising if party organizers stall for time next month, nominating a "placeholder" candidate who could later drop out of the race while WFP leaders think harder about their difficult political decision.
And while the governor has a Republican opponent who is underfunded and little-known across the state, he still wants to avoid a challenge from his left. For a campaign that's received little attention so far, things could soon get very complicated.