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After denouncing Cuomo, WFP endorses him; drops Cynthia Nixon

Cynthia Nixon unsuccessfully challenged Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo

Cynthia Nixon unsuccessfully challenged Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to be New York's Democratic candidate for governor. Credit: Getty Images / Dimitrios Kambouris; Drew Angerer

Not so long ago, members of the Working Families Party denounced Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo as a "corporate, centrist" Democrat who has "lied to us again and again."

Now, they're singing a different tune. They're endorsing Cuomo for governor.

If he'll have them.

The labor-backed party, which supporters billed as the "heart and soul" of the progressive movement in New York, on Wednesday rescinded its original endorsement of Cynthia Nixon for governor and voted to back Cuomo,

It was quite a reversal for the party, whose executive committee members overwhelmingly (91.5%) voted to back Nixon in April after a lengthy airing of grievances about Cuomo.

But the reversal had been expected since Cuomo trounced Nixon in the Democratic primary on Sept. 13. Members had signaled the party was likely to take back all of its harsh words for Cuomo and back him, reasoning they didn't want Nixon's continued candidacy to split the vote on the left and help Republican candidate Marc Molinaro. A recent Siena College poll said that Nixon still was receiving support from about 10 percent of those surveyed -- though that would not be enough to really impact Cuomo's 22-point lead over Molinaro.

 "Our differences with Cuomo are real -- but our differences with Trump Republicans are much greater," the party said in a statement on Twitter.

Further, the WFP, like any party in New York, must garner at least 50,000 votes on its ballot line in the governor's race to maintain its ballot status for the next four years. (Ballot status means a party automatically has a line in virtually every election in which party affiliation is listed.) Cuomo garnered 126,244 votes on the WFP line in 2014 and his appearance on the line this fall likely removes any fears the WFP won't reach 50,000.

Cuomo still has to accept the nomination by Friday. The WFP also rescinded its endorsement of Jumaane Williams for lieutenant governor and substituted Cuomo's running mate, incumbent Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul.

 Stephanie Miner, the former Syracuse mayor who is running as an independent for governor and is a vocal Cuomo critic, said the WFP "did what it had to do to survive," but said the outcome was "disappointing." Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins, who had sought WFP support, said it shows the party isn't a truly indpendent progressive party.

On Thursday, Cuomo told reporters he has had no conversations with WFP leaders about accepting the nomination. Asked what would be his rationale for accepting after the party besmirched him for months, the governor didn't directly answer, but said he's focused on helping as many Democrats as possible to the state Senate and Congress to oppose President Donald Trump's agenda.

Asked what he thought about the party's reversal, Cuomo said: "They're facing reality."

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