As I also shared on Twitter, I have been frustrated by the things happening in State & Dem Party politics over the last few weeks. Here are my thoughts on how the election law and the Party's buddy-buddy relationship with the Governor connect.
To be clear: this is not true of all "establishment candidates." State Senators, Assembly Members, Mayor, and other candidates you might think of as "establishment" have to collect designating petitioning signature.
But statewide offices like Governor, Lieutenant Governor, United States Senator, and Attorney General can bypass this if they receive 25% of the votes of the State Committee. This is written into the State's election law, and is Party-agnostic (see the 2020 Election Law, § 6–104).
This isn’t trivial. Statewide offices need 15,000 signatures with a minimum of one hundred from each of half of the twenty-seven Congressional Districts (so at least one hundred signatures each in at least fourteen Congressional Districts). Assume candidates collect three times the required number of signatures to protect against an opponent challenging signatures and to account for invalid signatures (meaning someone signs but they are not registered with the Party or they live in a someone in a different district), and that means candidates need 45,000 signatures across a huge geography where you likely need to bus volunteers.
Why does this matter now? Well thousands of volunteers are out collecting signatures while the State took no meaningful COVID precautions. More importantly, the New York Democratic Party has been on a PR-bender for the last two-plus weeks on behalf of Governor Cuomo. The Chair of the New York State Democratic Party also sent out *five* emails between February 16th and this past week expressing unqualified and apologetic support for the Governor. The State Committee never voted on any of this. You, the voters, elected State Committee Members, including myself, but we don't have a real say when the Committee's Executive leadership does whatever they (or Governor Cuomo) want without actually consulting the membership. This is not democratic, or Democratic.
This is money the Governor clearly didn't need if he can afford these bizarre propaganda posters, sent to State Committee Members, currently collecting dust under my bed (pardon my paperweights, as the posters are curled from living in their mailing tubes).
Independently, the above examples might seem unrelated, but they are not. The laws and New York Democratic Party heavily favor incumbents and do not support fair elections. Both need serious reform, but that won’t happen with current leadership. Regardless of who's leading, the Party MUST distance itself from the Governor. The Party serves you, the voters. The State Committee should grow the Party, help in down ballot races, and preserve our Legislative control, not act as an appendage of the Governor's campaign and office. New York is overwhelmingly Democratic with many competing viewpoints. We can’t be that and run fair elections if the Party is a rubber stamp for the people at the top. The whole thing is quite frankly gross, and as a State Committee Member, I’m ashamed how this became damage control for "Cuomo 2022."