New ‘Moderate Party’ line in the works in scheme to aid NY Democrats

Efforts are underway to create a “Moderate Party” in New York state and elsewhere in a scheme to aid Democrats punished at the polls in last year’s midterm elections over what critics claim are left-field, soft on crime policies, The Post has learned.

One of the organizers of the campaign to establish the new party is Dan Cantor, a founder and former director of the Working Families Party that has been accused of pulling Democrats too far to the left and is currently fighting more moderate Democrat New York City Mayor Eric Adams’s agenda.

The campaign to get the Moderate Party on the ballot for the 2024 presidential election year is portrayed as an attempt to woo centrist voters disgusted by the polarization of the two major parties into backing more like-minded candidates.

“It’s cynical,” a source with knowledge of the plan told The Post. “The Democrats can’t be everything to everybody,”

Under such “fusion” voting, a nominee running as a Republican or Democrat for president, governor or legislative offices could hypothetically seek to back more centrist policies to be cross-endorsed by the Moderate Party and run on its ballot line as well.

New York and Connecticut already allow for fusion voting but most other states do not.
A campaign is underway to allow fusion voting in 10 other states, including a court fight in New Jersey to stablish a Moderate Party ballot line.

One of the organizers of the Moderate Party is Dan Cantor, a founder and former director of the Working Families Party.
One of the organizers of the Moderate Party is Dan Cantor, a founder and former director of the Working Families Party.
Photo by Jason Wise/Getty Images for Green New Deal Network

In New York, most GOP candidates also are endorsed by and run on the right-leaning Conservative Party line, the party that typically receives the third most votes after the Democratic and Republican parties. Many Democrats are cross-endorsed and also run on the left-leaning Working Party line, the party that receives the fourth most votes.

The candidates can add the votes from the minor or third parties to their total tally — sometimes putting them over the top in close races.

A new party needs to collect 45,000 voter signatures to qualify for ballot status and obtain at least 2% of the total vote in statewide races for governor and president to maintain it, under a law approved in 2020. The more onerous requirements disqualified the Independence Party, Green Party and Libertarian Party.

But in a head-scratching development, WFP co-founder and former director Cantor is among those spearheading the effort to create the Moderate Party, stirring accusations of ballot manipulation to aid Dems rather than a sincere effort to bring politics back to the center.

Centrists have long complained that the WFP has pressured Democrats to move to the extreme left on taxes and criminal justice policies — and contributed to the polarization the campaign for a centrist party denounces. The WFP has often backed leftist candidates against moderate incumbents in Democratic primary races.

While promoting the Moderate Party campaign, Cantor does not denounce the left-leaning WFP. In fact, he cites it as a success, a source with knowledge of the plan said.

“It’s ridiculous. It’s absurd. It’s laughable,” the source said.

“These are the people in the Working Families Party who created this mess. They’re trying to trick people with another party. They think voters are so stupid they’ll just vote for a Democrat on another party line.”

The source added, “The reason for the Moderate Party is for the Democrats to win back power in Congress. It’s cynical.”

New York Democratic Party Chairman Jay Jacobs said he opposes the creation of the Moderate Party.
New York Democratic Party Chairman Jay Jacobs said he opposes the creation of the Moderate Party.
Sipa USA/Alamy Live News

In a presidential year, the Moderate Party would be another vehicle for voters to cast their ballot for Democrat incumbent President Biden against the Republican candidate for president, the source said. Former President Donald Trump, 76, launched his third White House bid Nov. 15. Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, 44, is reportedly also planning to run.

“It’s another place for people to vote who are anti-Trump,” the source said.

New York state Conservative Party chairman Gerard Kassar said Democrats are trying to find ways to “manipulate the ballot” because voters have soured on their policies.

“The Democrats see the writing on the wall. The Republicans and Conservatives can now go head to head with Democrats because they’ve swung so far to the left. They need to manipulate the ballot lines,” said Kassar.

“It’s word play. They’re trying to use the word `moderate’ to get Democrats out of a hole. They want to manipulate the ballot because they can’t defend their policies.”

Kassar said Cantor is “absolutely not a moderate,” referring to him as an old-school liberal, labor union guy.

The push for a Moderate Party also discusses trying to persuade more practical, centrist business leaders fed up with polarization to come on board.

For his part, state Democratic Party Chairman Jay Jacobs said no thanks to the creation of a new Moderate Party.

“I oppose it. It would effectively complicate and confuse the political environment,” Jacobs said. “We are the progressive moderate party.”

Jacobs argued that both New York Gov. Kathy Hochul and Adams are practical, mainstream Democrats or progressive moderates. The WFP backed Hochul against Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin in last year’s gubernatorial race and claimed credit for her tighter than expected 6 point victory.

The WFP is fighting Adams’ agenda and has urged City Council candidates seeking its endorsement to defund the police, not accept donations from law enforcement unions and block charter schools. 

Cantor declined comment when reached by phone.