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Working Families Party urges Cuomo vote ‘however you feel’

ALBANY – As political support letters go, the one sent that the head of the state Working Families Party sent on behalf of Gov. Andrew Cuomo ranks as one of the strangest.

An email sent Wednesday night to “friends” of the labor-backed party urges them to vote Cuomo for governor on its ballot line -- “however you feel about our governor.”

Bill Lipton, state director of the small but influential party, acknowledged in the email to party backers that many members are “understandably frustrated” with Cuomo’s positions on education, taxes, fracking “and more.”

He also acknowledged that, for many party members, it would be a “bitter pill” to vote for Cuomo.

“Many of you are considering not voting for governor, or voting for (Green Party candidate Howie) Hawkins,” Lipton wrote in the email, which The Buffalo News obtained.

“We’re taught that you’re supposed to vote for the candidate whose beliefs are most like your own. But the truth is that politics is not simply just a contest between individual candidates. When you pull the camera back, it’s also a contest between institutional forces,” Lipton wrote as he checked off groups his union battled, such as real estate developers and a statewide business lobby.

Lipton urged recipients of the email to vote for Cuomo on the Working Party line next week even if they don’t support Cuomo.

Sample letters are included that party members can send to friends urging them to do the same. One letter begins: “Most of you know that I was bitterly disappointed that Zephyr Teachout did not receive the WFP nomination for governor. But now is the time to face reality. Andrew Cuomo is going to be our next governor and what we need to do is hold him to the promises he made in order to win our nomination,” the sample letter states.

Among the promises Cuomo made last spring in order to get WFP delegates to endorse him was a hike in the minimum wage, public financing of elections and his pledge to work to help Democrats take control of the Senate.

Since getting that party line on the ballot, Cuomo has worked harder promoting his candidacy not on just the Democratic line, but on a new Women’s Equality Party he created with his name atop its ballot.

Cuomo’s relations with the liberal Working Families Party and some labor unions soured even more after Cuomo told the editorial board of the New York Daily News that he would work to “break” what he called “one of the only remaining public monopolies,” which he described as the state’s public school system.

Education groups, including the teachers union, spent Wednesday bashing Cuomo for his comments, and Republican Rob Astorino jumped in to say teachers would find respect with an Astorino administration if he wins the governor’s race.

The Cuomo campaign dismissed the matter as “political blather.”

Cuomo received 155,000 votes on the Working Families Party line in the 2010 election.

In a separate email sent out this morning to supporters – with the subject line “This is important” – Cuomo urged his supporters to vote for him on the Women’s Equality Party line. “It’s time for a party whose singular goal is equality for women,” Cuomo wrote in the mailing. He added that if the line gets 50,000 votes “we will ensure that women’s issues are no longer something politicians think they can disregard.”