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Without being present, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo became something of a piñata during a town-hall style teleconference call hosted Wednesday night by the Working Families Party in which the organization’s officials from around the state took part.
Cuomo ran in 2010 with WFP support but that is far from assured this time out after the party, which made comprehensive public campaign financing an acid test for support, condemned a widely-criticized "pilot" program that affects only this year’s comptroller’s race. This was enacted in the budget with Cuomo's backing.
Ron Mangeri from Dutchess County declared, "there is no way possible that I could support this governor and I hope that when a decision is made we do not support him under any circumstances.”
Democratic state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli joined the call, urging officials “to keep the grassroots pressure on” for more sweeping campaign-finance changes.
With WFP among the groups criticizing the recently-enacted pilot program — and with DiNapoli saying he won’t take part — the Great Neck Democrat said: “What happened is a disappointment but I think there is a recognition by the powers that be that this is an issue that’s not going away.”
The proposal doesn’t provide enough time to set up, and any challenger would have difficulty figuring out how to take advantage of the new system, given the documented flaws of the state Board of Elections, DiNapoli argued.
One Buffalo participant asked if DiNapoli would have to give up his Democratic nomination for comptroller to run on the WFP line for governor — to which Dan Cantor, the party’s executive director, responded that he can’t run for both positions and “we’re happy to have him as our state comptroller, for sure.”
Cantor said that with seven weeks left to the legislative session, the party should focus on pushing again for desired reforms. Top WFP officials declined to discuss who might take the party’s helm for governor when asked by a reporter for Capital New York during the teleconference.
Anita Thayer from the Capital District asked the "presenters" if Cuomo, who’s met with constituent unions of the party, planned to screen with party leaders for an endorsement.
“At the moment, no,” Cantor said. “That doesn’t mean, you know, that it’s impossible but at the moment I don’t believe there are plans afoot on his part. But we shall see. In politics, seven weeks is a lifetime.”
The state party convenes its convention May 31 in Colonie, N.Y.