As more and more Americans identify themselves as independents, and reject the two major party labels, the choices for third parties here in New York have been cut in half, from 8 political parties to 4. The reason? A political war between Governor Andrew Cuomo and actress Cynthia Nixon dating back to 2018 that resulted in the ‘cancellation’ of my political party earlier this year (2021).
My last vote for a major party Presidential candidate was in 2008, when I vote for John McCain. Since then I have voted third party, and had hoped that someone with the financial resources and gravitas would step forward and run as an Independent for President. I’m still waiting.
In 2018, many progressive New Yorkers were becoming dissatisfied with Governor Andrew Cuomo. One of my state’s minor parties, The Working Families Party, (WFP) decided to nominate and endorse actress Cynthia Nixon for Governor.
Nixon also ran against Cuomo in a democratic primary, but lost 65%-35%, after which Cuomo leaned on WFP leaders and the powerful union bosses in NY, to force her off the WFP ballot. Eventually, the WFP capitulated, removing Nixon from the ballot. Cuomo won re-election in a landslide.
I found a new, third party to support in 2018: The SAM Party of NY. SAM collected the required number of signatures to get on the ballot and then ran a fusion ticket, of a Democrat, Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner, and Republican, former Mayor of Pelham in Westchester County, Michael Volpe. I knew Volpe from our Westchester ties, and enthusiastically voted SAM on election day. The SAM ticket received more than 50,000 votes statewide on election day 2018, which gave them automatic ballot status through 2022.
Even though Cuomo got his wish (Nixon was kicked off the ballot), his anger at the WFP continued to the point where he worked to remove them from their automatic ballot status in the state. Cuomo formed a commission to examine all of the minor parties in New York to determine what an appropriate threshold number of votes should be required of them to receive. 50,000 votes would no longer be the magic number. Now all minor parties had to get 130,000 votes, AND run a candidate for President in 2020.
Some political parties, like SAM, did not want to run a candidate for President. They were more concerned about statewide issues and running local and county candidates for office.
Seven political parties ran Presidential candidates in New York, including the Democratic and Republican parties, Conservative Party, Working Families Party, Libertarian Party, Green Party, and Independence Party.
Only four of those political parties met the new 130,000 vote threshold set by Gov. Cuomo’s commission meant to eliminate the WFP on election day 2020. The Democrats and Republicans both got millions of votes for Joe Biden and Donald Trump. The Conservative Party also nominated Trump and got 295,000 votes, while the WFP nominated Biden and got 386,000 votes. So the only two minor parties that met the threshold did so by running Trump or Biden, or by acting as wholly run subsidiaries of the two major parties.
The other 3 parties that ran a truly ‘Independent’ candidate for President did not meet the threshold and were tossed off the ballot in 2021. And my party, the SAM Party was also tossed off for not running a candidate for President, and as such, did not receive 130,000 votes.
It is interesting to note that the WFP survived Cuomo’s purge of minor parties, even though they were the target of his so called “Ballot Access Law.”
And what was so harmful about Cynthia Nixon and her campaign for Governor in 2018? As a member of the LGBTQ community, Nixon ran on increased funding for education, criminal justice reform and legalizing marijuana. Three years later, those issues are now in the mainstream of the NY democratic party.
“Still every day multiple people come up to me and say, ‘I voted for you. When I see all these things gaining steam not just in New York but on the national stage, too, I feel like I won. I ran to win. I hoped to win. I did everything I could to make that a possibility,” she says. “But at the end of the day, I knew the most important thing about my running was to shed light on these issues,” said Nixon, whose 2018 campaign is now looked back on as “the Cynthia Effect,” for the impact it had on progressive democratic politics in NY/
But while Nixon and progressive-democrats across New York State are now winning, I lost my political party and received a postcard from my Board of Elections notifying me that my political party no longer exists in February of this year (2021). 531,000 other New Yorkers also received the same postcard. Our parties were cancelled, thanks to the bullying of Gov. Cuomo, and his rage over the fact that one progressive party had the nerve to run a candidate against him.
Eight political parties in New York were cut down to four with the stroke of a pen. The SAM Party of NY refuses to go away and is pushing back on this decision to limit political discourse in the Empire State. “We will keep building SAM, locally, regionally and across the state to serve and solve the problems everyday New Yorkers face. The incumbent power brokers cannot keep us down,” said SAM-NY Chair Michael Volpe.
If SAM decides to run a candidate for Governor next year (2022), we will have to collect 35,000 signatures statewide to get on the ballot. “SAM is successfully building a national coalition of independent voters who put problem solving over ideology. We have clearly created an electoral threat to the power brokers in Albany, and we can’t let up. Now is the time for independent New Yorkers to push back on the Governor and the Legislature and make your voices heard,” said SAM National Executive Director David Jolly, (SAMstudio.org).
Now that Governor Cuomo appears on the verge of having his political career ‘cancelled,’ Cynthia Nixon, while supporting progressive candidates in New York City and across the state, has not commented on Cuomo’s efforts to cancel her party, or on his success in cancelling my party.
Friends, this isn’t the time to be complacent. If you are ready to fight for the soul of this nation, you can start by donating to elect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris by clicking the button below.
Thank you so much for supporting Joe Biden’s Presidential campaign.