Many perspectives, 1 simple etiquette

Partisan Establishment in New York Institutes New Rules to Squash Rising Third Party

Created: 19 December, 2019
Updated: 15 August, 2022
3 min read

A new type of third party is racking up wins against the two-party duopoly in New York. However, state officials have authorized an unelected commission to squash any competition that challenges the political establishment.

Here’s what you need to know:

A Rising Political Party

The SAM (Save America Movement) Party is not your typical political party. While most parties are founded on an ideology — catering only to specific blocs of voters — SAM states that its party is founded on a process that starts with:

  • Listening to voters to understand how specific problems affect them rather than just telling voters what their problems are and how to solve them; then
  • Gather input from sources and experts across the political spectrum on each of these problems facing voters; and then
  • Work together with colleagues across every political aisle to find the best solutions for all involved.

This may seem like an obvious approach for most voters. This is, in fact, how a representative process should work — to encourage active involvement among voters as political actors in their government and then collaborate on the best solutions that will work for the most people.

However, this is not how the current system works at the national or state levels. While SAM’s model incentivizes candidates and leader to actually listen to people, the current system incentivizes the opposite, instead rewarding those who cater only to hardline partisan or ideological bases.

In New York, for example, a closed primary process shuts out millions of voters from an integral moment in the elections process while the political establishment maneuvers to keep its power and influence at any cost.

And while it may seem like an impossible situation for a minor party to break through, SAM’s message is resonating with voters:

  • In November 2018, the party surpassed the state’s requirement of 50,000 votes in a gubernatorial election to gain official party status and ballot access for 4 years.
  • In November 2019, SAM candidates won 51 races across 21 counties in New York — candidates who ran for positions like county supervisor, mayor, county legislator, and more.

“For so many SAM candidates to win in our first election is extremely encouraging and shows how hungry voters are for a viable alternative to America’s broken two-party system,” said Scott Muller, national chair of SAM.

“Our first election with a state-wide ballot line showed a significant interest from candidates across the state to run their campaigns with a different, new kind of promise to voters,” said SAM NY Chair Michael Volpe. 

 “We are pleased to see their message resonate so well as evidenced by the number of victories achieved by SAM candidates in New York.”

However, the partisan establishment is making it much more difficult for SAM to build on its momentum.

State Officials Respond to Rising Third Party Threats 

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and state officials expanded the authority of a public campaign financing commission to rewrite election laws pertaining to smaller political parties in elections. In the same month SAM won its numerous victories across the state, the commission approved new rules to make it much more difficult for minor parties to keep and maintain ballot access.

First, the commission changed the requirement that minor parties get at least 50,000 votes every 4 years to maintain party status and ballot access to 130,000 votes every 2 years. But, that’s not all. The commission also approved a rule that requires all parties to run a candidate for president in 2020, even if the party had no intention of doing so.

So, SAM NY’s status as an official party and its ballot access for future elections now depends on it running candidates in elections it may not have an interest in participating in, given it is a state-specific organization. 

The actions by the public campaign financing commission was reportedly targeted at the Working Families Party, which has been at odds with the Democratic establishment in New York. However, the rule changes affect all rising political parties — including the SAM NY.

I reached out to SAM NY for comment on the new rules which will go into effect just before the year ends. Stay tuned for the response from SAM and more updates on this story.