In New York State's capital district, the Working Families Party is something of a laughingstock and the focus of an ongoing criminal scandal involving the two major parties' attempts to gain control of WFP ballot lines with proxy candidates and proxy votes. In such an environment, the announcement of a WFP endorsement for any local election may provoke skepticism. Nevertheless, a Working Families committee in Cohoes, Albany County, has endorsed -- not nominated -- Randy Koniowka for mayor. Koniowka, best known for blogging on Cohoes affairs for the Albany Times Union, was notified of the endorsement last week. No public announcement was made by the WFP, to my knowledge, prior to the report that appeared in today's Troy Record.
Should he accept the endorsement and run on the WFP line, Koniowka would challenge incumbent Democrat John McDonald alongside putative Republican candidate James Walsh. However, it may be in Mayor McDonald's power to block a Koniowka candidacy -- not through the law, but through persuasion. Koniowka has told reporter Danielle Sanzone that "he plans to meet with members of the current administration, mainly incumbent Mayor John McDonald, and discuss plans for the future....[I]f he did not completely agree with McDonald’s vision, ... he would likely make the run for office." This is the typical WFP strategy: confront a Democrat with the prospect of an independent challenge from his "left" in order to extract "progressive" promises that'll ensure the Democrat of the eventual WFP endorsement when their own candidate respectfully withdraws. But with an apparently successful and popular mayor angling for endorsements from those other alleged independents, the Conservative and Independence parties, and given the WFP's current reputation in the region, the party and Koniowka's bargaining position looks relatively weak. Koniowka says that "people are not happy with the current status quo" but admits that "I would much rather work with the current administration than against them." The implication of the report is that it'll be up to Mayor McDonald to shake up the status quo, since Koniowka will only take the initiative if he isn't satisfied with the incumbent's promises. If Koniowka's endorsement for mayor by the WFP is a declaration of independence, it's almost too tentative to be taken seriously for now.