The Working Families Party has announced its first endorsement for the 2024 state legislative races, it has exclusively told City & State. The progressive third party is backing Claire Cousin in the Hudson Valley’s Assembly District 106 in her challenge against longtime Democratic Assembly Member Didi Barrett.
Cousin, a housing organizer and local politician, announced her campaign in May during a protest against Barrett outside one of her district offices. She had the WFP’s support when she ran for the Columbia County Board of Supervisors in 2021, a race she won that made her the first Black woman elected to the legislative body.
Cousin and other progressive housing advocates have criticized Barrett as being too conservative and for failing to support “good cause” eviction legislation meant to protect tenants. “We need to elect more champions for working families who will fight for housing as a human right, a Green New Deal for the Hudson Valley and a New York that’s affordable for everyone,” Cousin said in a statement. “That’s why I’m running – because the Hudson Valley deserves better.”
Barrett has served in the Assembly since 2012, when she won a special election to replace now-Republican Rep. Marc Molinaro, who at the time had just taken office as Dutchess County executive. Since then, she has won reelection each cycle by modest margins, including last year, when she bested her Republican opponent by about 9 percentage points.
Although the WFP has helped a number of progressives win office in recent years, their track record in the previous election cycle was spotty at best. Last year, the party endorsed several primary challengers to Democratic Assembly members. Only two – Assembly Members Sarahana Shrestha and MaryJane Shimsky – succeeded.
According to a WFP spokesperson, the party invited Barrett to apply for the endorsement, but she did not fill out the questionnaire nor complete an endorsement interview. A spokesperson for Barrett did not immediately return a request for comment.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the number of WFP-endorsed challengers who won last year.