NY Progressive Caucus Impacts Democratic State Convention

NY Progressive Caucus impacts Democratic State Convention with Resolutions.  

The May Democratic Convention was, in a word, interesting.

Our two resolutions, one calling on the so-called Independent Democratic Conference - made up of State Senators all elected on a Democratic line - to come back to the Democratic Conference, and the other calling upon Governor Cuomo to reject the Independence Party line, had a substantial impact, despite the fact that neither was technically passed by the State Committee itself. (I say technically, because as we all know the interpretation of Rules at the State Committee these days is, shall we say, fast and loose; there was, however, strong support in the body itself for both measures.)

But the real impact of our efforts can be seen in the negotiations this past weekend over the Working Families Party’s contentious endorsement of Governor Cuomo.

While the WFP ultimately voted to give its line to Andrew Cuomo, it did so contingent on his promise to bring back a Democratic majority to the New York State Senate by, among other efforts, bringing the renegade IDC back into the Democratic Conference fold. Given that in 2012 the WFP endorsed each of the individual members of the IDC, all of whom except Tony Avella had already abandoned the Democratic Conference, we are delighted by the WFP’s change of heart in this matter.

We are confident that they were influenced by the merits of our policy argument, as well as the accumulated evidence that the IDC never enabled passage of progressive legislation. And perhaps the strong support that was demonstrated for our resolution by Editorial Boards, as well as rank-and-file Democrats and progressives, had some bearing on the WFP’s decision to make this issue their line in the sand with Cuomo. Whatever the basis, we are delighted that the WFP has now decided to make our cause their own, and we look forward to their work on this matter. We are also curious to see if leaving the IDC is a key demand in their 2014 endorsement decisions of the State Senators currently affiliated with that Conference. After all, what’s sauce for the gander, is also sauce for the goose.

Despite our best efforts, the Governor decided to accept the Independence Party nomination – apparently simultaneous with accepting that of our own Democratic State Committee. Our Independence Party resolution, unlike that of our IDC one, was not tabled by the Executive Committee, although it failed to win the support of that brave body by a vote of just one. However, former State Party Chair Jay Jacobs at the time of the floor vote, for reasons perhaps best elucidated by him, decided to pull the resolution that he had been so whole-heartedly supporting up until that point.

Though disappointed, we are hardly surprised. It is a rare resolution these days that is actually allowed to be voted upon by State Committee members. The strong support of our position by all of the major New York City newspapers, as well as newspapers throughout the state and, of course, by many members of the State Committee itself, demonstrates the deep disdain for the Independence Party and its pay for play politics.

Rachel Lavine, Chair