New Party Enters Governor’s Race

Robert J. McCarthy and Deidre Williams, Buffalo News, September 28, 2010

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The Freedom Party qualified for the statewide ballot in August when it submitted 45,300 petition signatures for its formation, while only 15,000 were required. Doyle [Eva M. Doyle, a retired Buffalo Public Schools teacher], 64, said she has no political experience but accepted the invitation of Charles Barron, a New York City councilman from Brooklyn, to be his running mate.

She was most concerned that neither of the major parties has any minority on its statewide ticket. “[The Freedom Party] sent representatives to Buffalo to find an African-American woman,” she said. “And there are no women on the ticket [for statewide offices], either. I felt it was the right thing for me to do.”

Others from Buffalo, such as Erie County Legislator Betty Jean Grant, a Democrat, have also signed on to the effort.

“In the interest of the urban areas–especially Buffalo, Rochester and New York City–we need a party that takes notice of and addresses our issues,” she said. “There’s no focus on Andrew Cuomo or Carl Paladino, but it’s part of an empowerment move.”

Ted Kirkland, who hosts a show on WUFO radio, said callers to his program are only beginning to show enthusiasm, especially as Paladino’s surge in the polls affects Cuomo’s plans. The more steam Paladino gains, the more Cuomo will reach out to blacks, he predicted.

“The idea behind [the Freedom Party] was the time of being ignored is over. When Cuomo picked his group, he totally ignored blacks,” Kirkland said. “But Paladino has sort of changed things in that Cuomo thought it would be a cake walk to [Albany], and he didn’t need the black vote. Now that Paladino is closing that gap and came out of nowhere, every black vote Cuomo gets, he needs.”

{snip} Nevertheless, Cuomo appeared Monday in Harlem with some of New York City’s top African-American Democrats to shore up his credentials with black voters, immediately after Freedom Party protesters met him at the subway station.

Among those he met with were Rep. Charles B. Rangel, D-N.Y.; former New York City Comptroller Bill Thompson; former State Comptroller H. Carl McCall; and Assemblyman Herman D. Farrell, D-Manhattan, former chairman of the state Democratic Party.

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Still, many political observers believe a party catering to minorities can only siphon votes away from Cuomo and the Democratic base. Some say that if the Paladino candidacy gets even stronger, the Freedom line will only help the GOP.

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Interviews with several black voters around Buffalo on Monday revealed no great enthusiasm for either major party candidate, a fair amount of ignorance about the Freedom Party, and a degree of ambivalence about the race.

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“Things are so hard for blacks right now that if I don’t see a black face, I’m not going to vote for [him or her],” he [an East Side resident] said.

Corey Lucas, 24, said he will most likely vote for Paladino. The Black Rock resident said “it just seems like [voting for Paladino] would benefit me more.”

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Claudette Monroe, a 62-year-old grandmother who lives on Richmond Avenue with her son and daughter-in-law, said she plans to vote for Paladino. She is a frequent patron of the Frank L. Merriweather Library on Jefferson Avenue and said she heard about the racist and pornographic e-mails Paladino sent to his cronies. She doesn’t condone them but doesn’t condemn Paladino, noting that politicians often make bad choices, from cheating on their wives–“like [former Gov. Eliot] Spitzer”–to cheating taxpayers.

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Joy Westin said she plans to support Cuomo, even though she doubts either candidate really cares much about the African-American community. Cuomo, she said, just seems “less scary.”

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[An earlier story about the forming of the Freedom Party can be read here.]

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