The executive committee of the state Independence Party – led by party chairman Frank MacKay – now has nearly complete power over the party’s powerful ballot line, according to a member of the party’s executive committee.
Michael Zumbluskas, a member of the committee from Manhattan, said that a proposed rule change, which takes away nearly all formal power from local Independence Party committees, passed at a meeting last weekend in Albany.
Previously, the executive could only overrule the decisions of local county committees when a legislative district was made up of two or more counties – or in very large counties.
But Zumbluskas said that in several smaller upstate counties, including Putnam, one of the two major parties was trying to take control over the local Independence Party, inspiring the rule change.
“Part of the reason we changed this was the problems we’ve had with some counties the last couple of elections,” Zumbluskas said.
The one remaining exception appears to be in New York City, where the NYC Independence Party retains control over ballot authorization for the mayoral, public advocate and comptroller races. That’s a formidable power: in all three of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s campaigns, votes on the Independence Party line helped carry him to victory.
While the rule change probably means there will be far less turmoil over Independence Party endorsement decisions in the 2012 elections, it’s sure chafe rank-and-file members – and could spark further charges that the Independence Party has anti-democratic tendencies.
Notably, the rule change does not appear to have played into Erie County Republican State Sen. Mark Grisanti reportedly landing the Independence Party line for 2012.
That’s because the Erie County Independence Party was already powerless to make endorsement decisions, according to Erie County Board of Elections Commissioner Dennis Ward, a Democrat who was a losing party to a lawsuit in 2011 to try and return that power to the Erie County Independence Party. Erie County, because it had a population of greater than 750,000, was already subject to the executive committee’s previous rules, Ward said.
Zumbluskas, the executive committee member from Manhattan, said that Erie County County Democratic chairman Len Lenihan had been trying to take over the Erie County Independence Party by flooding its county committee with Democrats – inspiring the executive committee power grab there.
“That’s why we made these rule changes, because of Erie County, and stuff like that,” Zumbluskas said. “We decided, okay. Enough is enough.”
Trackback from your site.