At an event held by Mic on Wednesday, progressive New York candidates Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Cynthia Nixon shared indignation but not surprise over the failure of the Women’s Equality Party to endorse either woman in their high-profile 2018 races.
“Cynthia and I have both been snubbed by the Women’s Equality Party as the only female candidates in our races,” said Ocasio-Cortez in an interview for “Mic Dispatch,” the website’s new Facebook Watch program.
The party, which began in 2014 with the support of Cuomo, endorsed the two-term governor earlier this year. It also pledged its support for Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.) before he lost his primary election to Ocasio-Cortez in the state’s 14th congressional district, a seat he’s held for 10 terms with no primary challengers in over a decade.
Cuomo critics have argued that the governor participated in the creation of the Women’s Equality Party not to promote women’s equality—but as a punitive measure against the Working Families Party (WFP), which considered endorsing another female progressive challenger for governor, Zephyr Teachout, in 2014 before announcing its support for Cuomo.
“The Women’s Equality Party,” wrote Michelle Goldberg at The Nation, months after the party was formed, “seems inspired by nothing so much as his desire to undermine the progressive Working Families Party. Cuomo’s attempt to hijack feminism for his own petty ends is such a craven move it could have been dreamed up by the scriptwriters at [the HBO comedy] ‘Veep.’ It would be bleakly funny if it didn’t pose an actual danger to an organization that has always fought for New York’s women.”
In her interview with Mic, Nixon dismissed the Women’s Equality Party as one Cuomo “invented and that he funds.”
The party has also failed to endorse Liuba Grechen Shirley, a woman running against Republican congressman Peter King on Long Island, who became the first female candidate to petition the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to allow her to use campaign funds for child care—an ability likely to make campaigning far more accessible to many American women.
“It seems like a strange moment—when the universe seems to be correcting for the countless errors of the patriarchy—to be rewarding apparatchik loyalty over feminist ambition,” observed journalist Ginia Bellafante of the Women’s Equality Party in the New York Times in May. “Will women voters feel exploited by what they might see as a ruse, and will that anger rebound in Ms. Nixon’s favor? Women are tired of being used.”
Under New York’s ballot system, Nixon’s name could still appear on the WFP’s line on the general election ballot if she loses the Democratic primary in September, because the party endorsed her in April.
Cuomo’s name would be able to appear on the Independence party and Women’s Equality Party lines, while Crowley’s early endorsement from the WFP will allow him to represent that party on his ballot even after losing his primary by 15 points.