Today’s news:

Bloomy, Avella, Thompson vie for Working Families Party endorsement; director says bar is higher for the mayor

Brooklyn Working Families Party members appear to be caught between choosing Queens Councilmember Tony Avella (D−Bayside) and Mayor Michael Bloomberg for their endorsement in the 2009 mayoral race.

Three candidates for mayor, Bloomberg, Avella, and City Comptroller William Thompson, participated in a Working Families Party candidates’ forum last week, taking questions from WFP members who were in attendance. The questions were prepared and submitted to the candidates ahead of time, covering topics ranging from affordable housing, to health care and sick leave.

“We had WFP members vote on the questions and thousands of people voted,” said WFP spokesperson Dan Levitan. “Then we flipped the process directly to the candidates. We were pretty happy with the level of thought candidates put into their responses.”

Working Families will have a difficult choice on its hands, as each candidate has pockets of support throughout the Party’s Brooklyn base. In the coming days, the WFP’s New York Coordinating Council will vote on their endorsement or decided to table the decision. A two−thirds majority of votes is needed to receive the endorsement. Discussions have been occurring internally, and WFP staff declined to comment concerning which way the Party was leaning.

“Our immediate focus is that this is a really significant event for the party,” said Bryan Collinsworth, a spokesperson for WFP. “For a long time, people didn’t expect Mayor Bloomberg to show up, but he showed up, and the other candidates came as well. We were able to focus on questions like affordable housing and health care in a very public way.”

Brooklyn political observers are also split in their analysis of how the WFP will vote. Some CBID members believe that the organization will back Bloomberg, and have been sending several emails stating that believe the WFP has already made its endorsement, though WFP Executive Director Dan Cantor issued a statement last week refuting that rumor, saying that the Mayor must pass a higher bar to receive their endorsement. Others believe they favor Thompson and will work to get him elected this summer.

“If Billy doesn’t get Working Families, forget about it,” said one Brooklyn Democratic leader who preferred to remain anonymous. “That’s his whole thing, working families, unions. I still think Billy has a good shot.”

Avella, who was endorsed by the New York Community Coalition, received the warmest reception among the crowd at the forum, even after challenging WFP members to support him because they share similar values.

“It would be my pleasure as mayor to say to Joel Klein: ‘You’re fired!’” Avella said, after answering a question on mayoral control.

Williamsburg−based activist and NYCC member Phil DePaolo, who is supporting Avella, said he disagreed with the WFP’s endorsements politically but praised their work on term limits.

“When they came out with their city council endorsements, they picked about 75 percent third−term incumbents,” said DePaolo. “We took such a strong stand on term limits, I was on the term limits lawsuit. We felt it was improper to consider people running for a third term.”

In addition to the mayoral race, WFP staff members said they would be directing most of their resources towards the 39th and 45th Districts, where they are supporting Brad Lander and Jumani Williams, respectively.

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