Does the Working Families Party Have a Strategy?
Jumaane Williams for governor reaches a crossroads
Once again, the institutional left is involved in a primary challenge for governor. In 2018, these forces—led by the Working Families Party and their umbrella organizations—backed Cynthia Nixon’s challenge of Andrew Cuomo and Jumaane Williams’ bid for lieutenant governor against Cuomo’s running mate, Kathy Hochul. The cause was understandable, even noble—Cuomo had been an enemy of the left for years and needed to face credible opposition. The campaign built on the lonely efforts of Zephyr Teachout, who ran a long-shot bid for governor in 2014 without WFP buy-in. Teachout ran a protest campaign. Nixon and Williams were intended to be more viable. Ultimately, Nixon was not—she couldn’t build much on the coalition Teachout assembled—but Williams came fairly close to defeating Hochul, despite the heavy money spent against him.
Now, the WFP and their allies—what constitutes the alphabet left in New York politics—are back at it, supporting Williams against Hochul, who is of course governor now after Cuomo’s shock resignation last year. They have argued, with reason, that Hochul may become too closely aligned with the real estate industry and Wall Street, given that she has aggressively fundraised from them. Hochul has banked more than $20 million and her fundraising practices are almost identical to those of Cuomo’s. As governor, she has pursued a more conciliatory approach and is far less austerity-minded, but progressives are right to not grow complacent. It’s notable, for example, Hochul has not affirmed her support for the Good Cause eviction bill.