WFP members air grievances with Cuomo

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The Working Families Party, which pushes a progressive platform, is wrestling over whether to endorse a governor who calls himself progressive.

WFP committee members aired their grievances against Democratic Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in a lengthy conference call Tuesday, with many "urging leadership to look for alternate candidates," participants said.

The labor-backed party endorsed Cuomo in 2010, but some members have grown disenchanted over his pro-business tax policies, among other things. It was the latest sign that Cuomo, up for re-election, is catching heat from the left.

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Most people who spoke on the call "felt the governor's agenda was opposed to the Working Families Party agenda," one participant said. Callers especially honed in on education spending and policy, tax policy and the Dream Act, which would give people living in the country illegally who came here as children access to state college tuition-assistance programs.

There was also discussion of a proposal to use public funds to finance political campaigns, which Cuomo has proposed but is in limbo as lawmakers move to finish state budget negotiations.

At this point, it's unclear who the WFP will endorse at its convention, slated for May 31 in Albany.

"WFP will have a tough decision to make in two months," Karen Scharff, party co-chair, said in an email. "Our state committee members expressed strong opposition last night to the governor's policies and actions. We'll have to see the final budget and what happens over the next two months and then make our decision."

The conference call came one day after Cuomo arranged a meeting with the labor unions that help fund the WFP: the Communications Workers of America; 1199 SEIU, a health care workers union; and 32BJ SEIU, which represents property service workers such as airport employees. The key issue of the meeting was where progressives stand heading into the election season, sources said.

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