The Working Families Party is holding off on endorsing Tedra Cobb, the Democratic candidate for the 21st Congressional District at Cobb’s request. Instead, the party will wait to endorse Cobb until September, when they can move the candidate they previously endorsed off the ballot, according to Ken Warner, upstate regional political director for Working Families.
Working Families endorsed Katie Wilson, Keene, during the Democratic Primary, with the promise that they would support whoever won the Democratic party nomination.
During the primary, Mr. Warner said that whoever won, there was no mechanism for moving Ms. Wilson off the Working Families Party line on the ballot.
“You can move out of the state or die,” Warner said in May. “I don’t think she’s planning on either of those.”
The one other way to move someone off a ballot was to nominate them for the State Supreme Court. That requires at least 10 years experience as a lawyer, not an option open to Wilson.
Mr. Warner says that things have changed since then, and there is a way now for Ms. Wilson to leave the ballot.
“At that time there wasn’t,” he said in an interview with the Times on Thursday. “Now we do have a way.”
According to Warner, Wilson can be moved to replace someone else on a different ballot.
“(It involves) moving her to replace any candidate that decides not to run,” he said.
That will only work, however, if the person who decides not to run has the necessary legal qualifications to be nominated to the judiciary. In that case, the Working Families Party can nominate them to the State Supreme Court, open up a ballot line in another race, and move Wilson there.
In short, while Wilson cannot be nominated to the court herself she can replace a judicial nominee in another race — but only after the judicial conventions in September.
“It’s a painful process, but we do have a mechanism,” Warner said. “There’s so many moving parts in this.”
Until recently, the Working Families Party was planning on announcing their endorsement of Ms. Cobb this week, but planning was further complicated when Ms. Cobb’s campaign manager, Mike Szustak, left unexpectedly for reasons that remain unclear at the beginning of the week.
According to the Press Republican, Ms. Cobb declined to answer questions on why Szustak left, and Szustak has not spoken on the record.
“This is what happens on campaigns,” Ms. Cobb told the Press Republican “People come and go. Since I do HR (human resources) work, I think it’s probably not appropriate to comment on that.”
The change caused further issues for the Working Families Party plans.
“In the change of campaign managers at the Cobb campaign ... things got confused,” Mr. Warner said.
After a lengthy conversation with Ms. Cobb, Mr. Warner said that the Working Families Party would hold off on the endorsement until Ms. Wilson’s move off the ballot was finalized at Ms. Cobb’s request. The Cobb campaign confirmed by email that they had discussed and agreed to this plan.
“We do not have a history of being a spoiler and we don’t intend to be now,” Mr. Warner said.