Thursday, June 11, 2009

WFP Calls For Democratic Unity by Elizabeth Benjamin - The Daily Politics - NY Daily News

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The Working Families Party has released a statement "strongly" condeming today's Senate takeover and calling on Sens. Hiram Monserrate and Pedro Espada Jr. to re-align themselves with the Democrats and the voters who put them into the majority last year.

The labor-backed party, which was a key ally to Sen. Malcolm Smith in his quest to flip the Senate into Democratic hands, even went so far as to play the Obama card in its comments, which came from WFP Executive Director Dan Cantor.

"We strongly condemn the actions of Senators Monserrate and Espada Jr., who today violated the trust of millions of middle- and working-class New Yorkers," Cantor said.

"Last November, the people of New York voted to shift control of the State Senate to the Democrats after 40 years of Republican rule. The reason was the same one that brought President Obama to the White House: a desire for real change.

“Today's coup d'etat is not about reform. It's a power grab by the Republicans, aided and abetted by two Democrats who should know better. Their constituents need jobs and affordable housing and clean water and civil rights, not the self-serving and phony reform being peddled by a billionaire who has left the state because he didn't want to pay his fair share of the tax burden.

“New Yorkers voted by the millions last November for a government that would put them before big money special interests, and today those votes have been temporarily negated. We call on Senators Monserrate and Espada to reverse their positions and re-align with the voters of New York.”

Again, as with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver's statement, note the lack of any mention of Smith, who - above all else - appears to have been the trigger point here.

The WFP has never been terribly close to Espada. In fact, last fall it endorsed former Sen. Efrain Gonzalez, the Bronx Democrat Espada ousted in a primary.

The party also targeted Espada when it ran a series of protests against senators who were holding out on a deal to bail out the MTA.

Monserrate is another story. The WFP supported him last fall and also worked hard on behalf of his former top aide, Julissa Ferreras, when she successfully ran in a special election for the City Council seat vacated by her boss when he went to the Senate.