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Saturday, November 1, 2014

Party endorsement revitalizes Koppell

By Shant Shahrigian
Posted
Masao Katagami/The Riverdale Press
Former Councilman Oliver Koppell gives a speech to the Benjamin Franklin Reform Democratic Club on May 22.

No matter who wins the Democratic primary between state Sen. Co-Majority Leader Jeff Klein and challenger Oliver Koppell in September, Mr. Koppell will be on the regular ballot in November.

The development comes courtesy of the small, progressive Working Families Party (WFP), which moved to endorse Mr. Koppell at its eventful annual convention in Albany on Saturday.

“It’s a good thing to be on the line in November,” Mr. Koppell said in a phone interview Monday. “It’s also, I think indicative of the strength of my candidacy. It shows that I have a significant base of support among progressive elements in the Democratic Party as well as the more progressive elements in the district.”

After a rough start to his campaign — which recently saw Mr. Koppell lose the endorsement of a onetime bastion of support in Riverdale, the Benjamin Franklin Reform Democratic Club — WFP’s decision could signal broader support to come for Mr. Koppell.

WFP spokesman Khan Shoieb said the party endorsed Mr. Koppell as part of a movement to dislodge the power-sharing coalition between Mr. Klein’s group of breakaway Democrats, the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC), and Republicans.

In comments to the WFP, Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio called for mainstream Democrats to take back the senate. The governor, who is heavily favored to win reelection, viewed a WFP endorsement as a symbolically important way to bolster his progressive credentials.

“We should start by telling the IDC that they must agree to return to the Democratic Party or face our unified opposition,” Mr. Cuomo said after listing unfulfilled progressive priorities in video remarks to the WFP convention. “And then we must tell senators… they must support these items, or we don’t consider them Democrats and they will face a unified opposition.”

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