A massive advertising blitz from the Working Families Party is urging New Yorkers to vote for the Democratic candidates on its line next month.
Back in April, the state legislature approved changes to the number of votes needed in an election for a third party to maintain its ballot line. The previous threshold was 50,000 votes. But the new requirements call for 130,000 votes, or two percent of the total statewide vote, whichever is higher.
The new benchmarks were adopted by lawmakers after being recommended by a commission created to enact campaign finance reforms.
“Right now we are mobilizing to get two percent of the total vote," said Sochie Nnaemeka. "We are going to get 170,000 to 180,000 New Yorkers to stand together and say that we want to defeat the president in the White House.”
If the WFP fails to get enough votes, its loses its ballot line, which has previously enabled the party to play kingmaker in key local and statewide elections. Without the ballot line, it could lose much of its power. Other small parties, including the Green, Libertarian, and Independence parties are also in similar struggles.
Democratic party critics of the WFP say its message urging Democrats to vote on its line is confusing to some voters in a critical election.
“I am encouraging everyone to vote on the Democratic line," said Rodneyse Bichotte, Brooklyn Democratic Chair. "It’s just easy. We serve a large number of immigrants who are new Americans who have language access issues and having to relay that level of detail in terms of ‘don’t vote Democrat, vote WFP, or don’t vote Democrat, vote conservative,’ it’s the same person. That’s very confusing.”
Biden was hardly the WFP’s first choice this cycle. Leaders embraced Biden only after both Elizabeth Warren, and then Bernie Sanders, lost.
“For a lot of New Yorkers Biden wasn’t the first or second pick. But we recognize right now we are at a huge juncture in our society, and we have to ensure that we are rejecting the violent and the divisive politics that are emanating from the White House," added Nnaemeka. "We also have to make sure that we have the organization and clarity to push the Biden administration to embrace the policies that many of us supported in the primary.”
Critics say with the rise of the Democratic Socialists of America, the WFP has lost its lane as the far left wing of the Democratic Party. Even if the WFP loses its ballot line, it could still be a force in New York politics, but clearly the leadership does not want to worry about what comes next if that happens.