At the height of his re-election campaign last year, Governor Andrew Cuomo helped create the statewide Women's Equality Party to try and give him a political boost last November. Critics say that not much has been done since then to build the party or even promote its existence, however. Supporters now claim the party will play a critical role in upcoming elections. Zack Fink filed this report.
Community leaders and elected officials gathered Wednesday morning at the home of Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney for a breakfast meeting and celebration.
Two years ago, the governor pushed a 10-point "Women's Equality Agenda" in the legislature, which failed to pass.
Last year, during his campign for re-election, the governor created the Women's Equality Party to help draw attention to that agenda and women's issues in general. Since then, though, critics say the party has been rather dormant, without much attention given to building its infrastructure.
Former City Council Speaker Christine Quinn now works for Cuomo and helped spearhead the effort to get the party, known as the WEP, up and running.
"There is a startup process. The party has gone through that process. We've met every deadline as articulated by the board of elections as it rekates to filing the paperwork, assembling an executive committee. The next deadline being September 15 for the party designations," Quinn said.
Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, who was at the breakfast, says roughly 400 local candidates statewide have asked for the party's line this year.
"This year, the very first year it's been assembled and put together, we are actually going to have several hundred people running on that line in the state of New York. This is a local year, primarily. There are a lot of county legislators who are interested," Hochul said.
Democrats say the creation of the Women's Equality Party helped increase Governor Cuomo's margin of victory statewide last year. However, the true test is not just the local elections this year, but the state elections next year when the State Senate is up for grabs.
"Next year will be the transformative year. That is the year we will encourage people to seek this line. Because, again, it is a statement of their priorities," said Hochul.
Democrats are hoping to capture the State Senate, although Republicans think that is a tall order. The Working Families Party, or WFP, which has been critical of the similiarly named WEP as unnnecessarily confusing to voters, declined to comment.