Working Families Party Goes Local To Broaden Reach

ALBANY (AP) -

New York’s far-left Working Families Party is working to broaden its reach with a new emphasis on local races around the state.

The labor-backed party is best known for its involvement in statewide races and political campaigns in New York City, but in this month’s election, it recruited and supported 111 candidates in local races. Seventy-one of them won.

It’s part of a long-term effort by the liberal party to cultivate political talent at an early stage.

“Some of these candidates are our future state legislators,” the party’s state director, Bill Lipton, said of the city council, town board and county legislative candidates. “If you encourage honest people to run for office, then give them a path, that’s the way you can change Albany.”

New York law allows candidates to run on multiple party lines. The party faced an identity crisis last year when it endorsed Gov. Andrew Cuomo over liberal activist Zephyr Teachout, who went on to mount a surprisingly strong though unsuccessful challenge to Cuomo in the Democratic primary.

“A lot of people were taken aback by their decision,” said Christina Greer, a political science professor at Fordham University. “I think they need to regroup, recover and rebuild, and this strategy could help.”