Amid cops being shot and killed by violent parolees, the left-wing Working Families Party — which claims to fight for the interests of blue-collar workers — has declared war on the unions representing uniformed officers.
The WFP is pressuring candidates who seek their endorsement in 2022 elections to shun support from law enforcement unions representing beat cops and correction officers, as revealed by the party’s 2022 candidate questionnaire, a copy of which was obtained by The Post.
The party — which is loosely allied with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Democratic Socialists of America and has sway in electing Democratic candidates across the state — is also pressuring candidates to oppose charter schools that serve most mostly black and Hispanic children of working-class parents.
“Will you refuse all donations from corporate PACs, real estate developers, police and corrections associations, and the charter school industry,” question No. 44 asks.
The WFP’s extensive 58-page, 113-question survey was forwarded to The Post anonymously by a concerned “mainstream Democrat.” The questionnaire also urges candidates who want their backing to go easier on criminals and defendants — including blocking any changes to the controversial bail law.
“Will you fight to ensure there are no further rollbacks to bail reform,?” it asks.
The WFP’s extensive 58-page, 113-question survey was forwarded to The Post anonymously by a concerned “mainstream Democrat.” Other portions of the questionnaire were first reported in the Times Union.
The party — which was instrumental in electing state Attorney General Letitia James on its ballot line when she first ran for City Council and Bill de Blasio to the mayoralty — also asks candidates for legislative office or governor to support bills that would impose a staggering $50 billion-increase in taxes on high-income earners, capital gains, inheritances, businesses and Wall Street transactions.
Last year, state lawmakers approved $4 billion in tax hikes on corporations and the wealthy and Albany is now flush with surpluses, not projected deficits
Moderate and conservative Democrats said they were appalled by the WFP’s “out of touch” agenda.
“The Working Families Party has gone off the deep end. They are competing with the Democratic Socialists of America, as to who can come up with the craziest and most radical agenda,” said Assemblyman Simcha Eichenstein (D-Brooklyn).
“I’m not certain if they’re completely out of touch or simply live in an alternate reality. In a time when our police officers are being shot on our streets and our correction officers are being assaulted at work, we need to double down on our support for the men and women in uniform that risk their lives every single day to keep our families safe,” he said.
Political analysts consider the WFP the force that drags the New York Democratic Party to the left.
State Democratic Party Chairman Jay Jacobs said the answers the WFP questionnaire seeks on many of its policy priorities would be “divisive” and “very problematic for Democratic candidates running in the suburbs and upstate.”
“The direction of the questions would seem to be out of touch with current realities,” said Jacobs, who also is the Nassau County Democratic leader.
Asked about the WFP urging candidates not to seek backing from police unions, Jacobs said, “Now is not the time to create divisions.”
“Democratic candidates in competitive seats will not be able to form coalitions to win” if they embrace much of the WFP agenda,” Jacobs said.
As an example, Jacobs said, “We have to have an open mind to tweaking the bail law.”
Republicans won races for district attorney and county executive in Nassau last fall, largely clubbing their Democratic opponents over the issue of Albany Dems relaxing the bail law.
Jacobs also slammed the $50 billion in proposed tax hikes.
“You talk about tax increases when you’re out of money but right now New York state government is flush with money and is running projected surpluses in the coming years,” he said.
On other matters, the WFP seeks candidates who support more government-funded “supervised” centers where addicts can inject heroin or other drugs with syringes.
The WFP declares war on the charter school sector, the alternative publicly funded, privately run schools that typically have a longer school day and year and are popular with parents. The rub: staffers at most charter schools are non-union.
“Will you oppose increased state aid to privately run charter schools, the expansion of charter schools in New York City, and requirements for NYC to pay rent for new or expanding charter schools?” the questionnaire asks.
The WFP asks candidates if they support legislation allowing legal non-citizens such as green card holders the right to vote in state elections, following approval of NYC’s controversial law.
The questionnaire also asks candidates if they support spending nearly $500 million to provide health coverage to undocumented workers and steer $3 billion more to the $2.3 billion “Excluded Workers Fund” to provide pandemic emergency relief to “essential workers” who are undocumented.
In recent election cycles, the WFP played a crucial role in electing city Comptroller Brad Lander and backed state senators who toppled more moderate incumbents in primary elections in 2018: Julia Salazar in Brooklyn, Alessandra Biaggi in The Bronx, John Liu and Jessica Ramos in Queens and Robert Jackson in Manhattan.
The party also backed Jumaane Williams in his Democratic primary against then-Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul in 2018. Hochul prevailed.
The WFP defended its positions spelled out in the questionnaire when asked about the criticism, noting it first asked candidates questions about police union donations last year before the recent shootings of police officers.
“We have been asking candidates whether they will refuse contributions from police unions since 2021 following the murder of George Floyd and national uprisings around the country. This is not a new question,” said WFP spokesperson Ravi Mangla.
Mangla also said candidates are not “pressured” to answer “any which way.”
“We want honest responses to our questionnaires. If candidates are accepting real estate, corporate, police union donations, etc, they should answer honestly,” he said.
“Our questionnaire is a direct response to a political establishment that has failed to meet the basic needs of working people. New Yorkers are working longer hours for less money, yet it’s real estate, corporate PACs, and other private interests driving our political agenda,” said Working Families Party spokesperson Ravi Mangla.
“We remain dedicated to building a people-centered politics that levels the playing field for working New Yorkers and ensures everyone can make ends meet and thrive. Our questionnaire is a reflection of that commitment.”
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