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Cuomo Accepts Working Families Party Endorsement

ALBANY (AP) -- Democrat Andrew Cuomo on Sunday accepted the endorsement of the left-leaning Working Families Party in his run to be the state's next governor.

Cuomo, the current state attorney general, had given an ultimatum to the party, which long has been seen as the left wing of the Democratic Party and is backed by some of the special interests he's promised to confront as governor. He said a week ago that the labor-backed party had to accept his platform or he would refuse the endorsement, and that would threaten the party's automatic ballot line.

The party, in a written statement, is backing Cuomo's platform in which he promises to cut state spending, including aid that goes to the unions representing teachers and other public workers closely associated with the party.

The party needs to attract 50,000 votes to retain an automatic spot on the ballot -- and all the clout that can bring to influence the Democratic Party and endorse or withhold endorsement of candidates.

Cuomo said he appreciates the support of the Working Families Party.

"Passage of our reform agenda in Albany next year just took a giant step forward," he said in a written statement Sunday after the endorsement.

The party stated Sunday that its local members as well as a list of public- and private-sector unions, some of them among the most powerful special interests in Albany, unanimously support Cuomo's platform, which he calls the New New York Agenda.

"While some of our members have differed in the past on some of the specific issues in the New NY Agenda, the executive committee unanimously takes this position because we understand and accept Andrew's point that this is a pivotal moment in the history of this state, similar to the 1975 New York City fiscal crisis, when leaders in the labor, civic, business and political arena must put aside their individual agendas for the good of the entire state," said party leader Dan Cantor, on behalf of the executive committee.

Cuomo has said in his campaign that he would take on special interests including public worker unions to cap local property taxes and reduce state spending and other measures that the labor-backed Working Families Party has fought since 1998.

Cuomo faces no Democratic primary on Tuesday, so he had little need for the minor party's influence. He also has a better than 2-1 ratio edge in the polls over Republicans Rick Lazio and Carl Paladino and a far bigger campaign fund than either of them. It was clear when Cuomo, who has already secured the larger Independence Party line, made his ultimatum a week ago that the Working Families Party needed Cuomo more than he needed the party.

Lazio called Cuomo arrogant for accepting the endorsement of "a fringe group."

"The Working Families Party is an out-of-touch group that opposes a hard property tax cap, real pension reform and a spending cap that New York families and businesses desperately need," Lazio said in a written statement.

Paladino spokesman Michael Caputo said Cuomo's move was "theater."

"Andrew Cuomo is showing his true colors by taking the tainted Working Families Party line, but his playing hard to get was fake all along," Caputo said. "This is theater. The WFP is about real reform as much as Andrew is -- only to win the election, and then it's back to the Status Cuomo."

The party's statement e-mailed to reporters Sunday concluded, "We stand proudly and steadfastly behind Andrew Cuomo and his plan for a New New York."

Party officials told The New York Times in August that a federal investigation into claims the party circumvented campaign finance laws by using a subsidiary to aid its candidates with low-cost services has ended without charges.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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