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SEP 15 - SEP 22, 2015

Women's Equality Party Sidelined by Caruso Decision

By Mike Hudson

SEP 15, 2015

Peter A. Reeese represented Cecilia Tkazyk, and successfully prevented Gov. Andrew Cuomo from controlling the Women's Equality Party. Reese told the Reporter, "I was once named by Mario Cuomo in 1982 as one of the first who shall be first. I now find myself to be a shattered man worn down by life whose future is all behind him."
Cecilia Tkazyk told the Reporter "The Women's Equality Party should be run by women."

The role of minor party lines in New York State politics has been a dirty if open secret for years. On the left, the Working Families Party is subservient to the Democratic Party while, on the right, the Conservative and Independence parties endorse the Republican candidates and agenda.

Endorsements by these parties generally go to the candidate who bows most deeply to the dominant party’s elite. Endorsements are withheld from candidates who step out of line.

The minor parties are the home of dealmakers and back room operations. For decades they’ve been perceived as a part of the problem with New York politics, cynical attempts to confuse voters.

But rarely has the process gotten any more cynical than it did last year, when Gov. Andrew Cuomo created something called the Women’s Equality Party.

While Cuomo claimed the party was designed to galvanize support for his women's agenda, progressives charged the party was a transparent effort to grab votes from the Working Families Party, which has been at odds with the governor on a number of fronts despite supporting him in 2010 and 2014.

Cuomo arranged to have Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul run on his Women’s Equality line as well as the Democratic line last year to ensure the party a spot on the ballot for the next four years.   State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli and Cuomo himself also ran on the line. 

This year when attempts were made by Cuomo to install a Democrat as chairman of the party and create a host of self-serving by laws giving him control of the Women’s Equality Party - former Democratic Senator Cecilia Tkaczyk decided to become involved.

Tkaczyk, who had lost her Senate seat to a Cuomo facilitated Republican gerrymander, switched her party affiliation to the Women’s Equality Party, and attempted to wrest control of the organization from Cuomo – going so far as to create her own set of rules for the party.

"I put in the rules because I think the Women's Equality Party should be controlled by women who are registered members and not by people appointed by the governor," she told the Reporter. "This party didn't come from women — it came from Governor Cuomo.”

In Niagara County, the Republican committee also made an attempt to wrest control of the Woman’s Equality Party from the Democrats. In fairly typical fashion, the whole thing wound up in court.

"They (Republicans) don't want that to be the extra line for the Democrats," said Peter A. Reese, Tkaczyk's lawyer argued before Justice Frank Caruso in Niagara County State Supreme Court.

But the county GOP was equally adamant that they had a right to have a say in the control of the so-called Women’s party.

 "I've got as much right to nominate as the Tkaczyk people or the Cuomo people," said J.R. Drexelius, who represented the Republicans.

On Monday, Caruso ruled that none of the three parties claiming leadership of the Women's Equality Party rise above each other and that none have superior rights over the others.

He enjoined all three parties from certifying candidates to run for office until a majority organizes to file properly.  

So now nobody rules the Women’s Equality Party – formed as a cynical ploy and valuable because it has a spot on the ballot.

 But it has no real philosophy, no by-laws and no candidates.

And maybe that’s just as well – for now.

 “We began this process by filing our own rules to ensure that women were in charge of the Women’s Equality Party, not the Governor and his appointees,” Tkaczyk said following Caruso’s decision. “Women are being manipulated for political reasons by both parties and the Governor and I find that offensive.  My lawyer, Peter Reese, did an excellent job uncovering the charade.” 

Is this the end of Cuomo’s little party? A separate but similar court case is coming up next month in Albany County regarding the Woman’s Equality Party and only time will tell.   Attorney Reese feels the Albany case will likely be dismissed for failure to join necessary parties, namely the Tkaczyk group he represents.

 

 

 

 

 

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