Groups like the pro-“Defund the Police” Working Families Party say they’re scrambling to save Gov. Kathy Hochul before her goose gets cooked by Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin this Election Day.
“We’re doing a tremendous amount of work for Hochul,” George Albro of the WFP-affiliate Progressive Action Network told The Post. “I’m concerned the race could be so tight that that Democrats down ballot will lose.”
Polls show the race within single digits following months when Zeldin has assailed Hochul over rising crime and inflation while her “hot mess” campaign largely ignored him while leaning on her day job to keep her name in the headlines.
Tens of thousands of phone calls and many more doors knocks are two ways that the WFP is now pushing its own supporters to cast ballots for Hochul in Democratic bastions like New York City in response to growing GOP hopes that he might beat Hochul despite the odds with the help of voters in the outer boroughs and suburbs in particular.
“We’re working in coalition with Gov. Hochul in this election to stop Lee Zeldin from walking back the gains we’ve made for working New Yorkers. Right now, we’re encouraging voters to cast their ballot on the WFP line, so we can continue to fight for more affordable housing, guaranteed health care for all, and higher-paying jobs,” WFP spokesman Ravi Mangla said.
Other progressive groups like Our Revolution founded by socialist US Senator Bernie Sanders are also pushing voters on and off line to back Hochul on the WFP line.
The WFP has sparked controversies in recent years for supporting less funding for law enforcement as well as other progressive ideas like single payer health care and taxing the rich, which led to clashes with Hochul during her Democratic primary campaign against the WFP-endorsed Public Advocate Jumaane Williams.
Williams dropped the WFP ballot line after the party endorsed Hochul for governor as part of its ongoing effort to get the 130,000 votes it needs this November to maintain its automatic ballot access in future elections.
Some candidates have shunned support from the group while eyeing support from political moderates this year.
“It’s clear that WFP and I are not aligned on every issue due to my opposition to defunding the police and belief that bipartisanship is still possible and the best way to govern — which is why they endorsed my primary endorsement,” former Democratic Rep. Max Rose said in September regarding his 2022 rematch against GOP Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-Staten Island).
Labor groups say they too are stepping up their voter outreach efforts to help spare Hochul the humiliation of becoming the first Democrat in a generation to lose a statewide race.
“NYSUT and AFT are working hard to help elect Gov. Hochul and legislative candidates who align with our pro-public education and labor values,” a spokesman for the powerful New York State United Teachers union said in a statement after the group sent $500,000 earlier this week to an allied Super PAC.
Allies on the political left are now picking up efforts to reach voters in places like the outer-boroughs where Zeldin has taken his anti-crime message in recent days.
Two polls released Friday showed Hochul ahead of Zeldin by just six point despite her record-sized $49.2 million campaign war chest in a state where registered Democrats outnumber their GOP counterparts by roughly two-to-one.
“All they know how to do is raise money and buy ads,” a Democratic source said Friday.
Representatives of the Hochul and Zeldin campaigns did not immediately provide comment Friday about the WFP stepping up its efforts ahead on her behalf.
The party got 400,000 votes in the 2020 presidential election, but turnout for a mid-term, gubernatorial won’t be nearly as high as in a presidential year.
Bertha Lewis, a co-founder of the Working Families Party and head of the Black Institute whose group’s PAC has endorsed Hochul, said turnout is the name of the game.
“You’ve got to turn out the vote. I’ve been saying this for 30 years,” she said.
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