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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

New York's New Political Parties?

There could be one or even two recounts in New York State's gubernatorial election.

Not because there's any doubt that Andrew Cuomo won re-election by a 14 point margin.

UPDATED. No. It's because two of the ballot lines are thisclose over the threshold of 50,000 offiical votes required for a ballot line to achieve (or retain) its status as an official, legally recognized political party for the next four years. There certainly might have been a challenge if the parties were below the bar, and as of Wednesday morning the Andrew Cuomo alternative ballot line Women's Equality Party was 309 votes short of 50,000. The WEP is now 1,052 above, while Rob Astorino's Stop Common Core party had been about 4,000 short but is now 242 over the 50,000 threshold.

As for the Stop Common Core party, its qualification poses a very interesting question. Will the Republican establishment allow SCC to become a third party?

The reason for my suspicion is that the SCC petition committee on vacancies for the gubernatorial petition was dominated by Republican Party officials or consultants.  Under New York Election Law, the call as to whether the ballot line transforms into a third party is up to the gubernatorial candidate -- here, Rob Astorino -- but really this is a high-level insider game. 

The stakes are huge. Such a new party could cross-endorse candidates in any election anywhere in the state for the next four years, and it could get its own members who could easily qualify for the ballot.

For example, someone running for the House of Representatives in a regular party needs 1,250 valid signatures. (There are exceptions for low-enrollment districts where there are fewer than 25,000 enrolled members in a particular party in that district; then, the threshold is five percent of the enrolled number.) An independent candidate needs 3,500 signatures.

But for a new party with just a handful of members, you could get on the ballot with just five percent of the handful.  For what that's worth.


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