[JK: Full disclosure. I have been a member of the Working Families Party since 2008]
In an effort to steal the ballot line of the Working Families Party (WFP) for their candidates, local Republicans have organized a campaign to get some members of their party to change their registration from Republican to Working Families Party.
This is part of a statewide Republican strategy. The Rensselaer County Republican Party has been using this strategy for several years but only recently has this tactic appeared here in our county.
Frustrated by the traditional Democratic Party, the Working Families Party (WFP)was established on 1998 in New York by a coalition of progressive groups and unions. WFP endorses candidates on the state, local and national level and now has active chapters in fourteen other states and Washington, DC. Candidates seeking the WFP endorsement even on the local level are required to answer an extensive questionnaire focusing on issues such as climate change, universal healthcare, raising the minimum wage, and student debt.
In spite of the modest number of voters who have been registered in the WFP in Saratoga Springs, the number of people voting on that line is quite impressive. Finance Commissioner Michele Madigan’s recent successful election was due in great part to the votes she received on the WFP line.
To give some sense of just how wide the gap is between the policies promoted by the WFP and those supported by the Republican Party, consider this published legislative agenda from the WFP:
The Republican effort to capture this line reflects a disturbingly cynical plan to deceive voters in Saratoga Springs. The Republicans apparently hope that people will innocently vote for candidates on the WFP line thinking they are supporting progressive causes unaware that they are voting instead for traditional Republicans. [While WFP usually endorses Democrats they have endorsed some Republicans, but they are looking for candidates who support their agenda.]
I contacted Saratoga Springs Republican Party Chair Chris Obstarczyk to ask him about the registration changes. I like Chris. Under his leadership the recent city electoral campaigns by Republicans have been civil and substantive.
My conversation with Chris was disappointing, though. He deflected my questions about who was behind this drive to re-register Republicans as Working Family Party members by asserting that his committee has not been involved.
My effort to get him to condemn this strategy also proved fruitless.
According to the Saratoga County Board of Elections thirty-four registered voters in the county changed their registration from the Republican Party to the Working Families Party this year. Of the thirty-four, all but five were from Saratoga Springs.
Town Number Of People Who Changed
Saratoga Springs 29
Below I have listed the Republicans who changed registration.