WXXI Local Stories
Tue June 10, 2008
Working Families Party Drops Robach, Backs Dollinger
By Rachel Ward
Rochester, NY – A local state senate candidate won't have the endorsement of the Working Families Party going into the fall elections. That party represents organized labor in New York state and community organizations, and it endorsed Democratic challenger Richard Dollinger for Republican Joseph Robach's 56th district state senate seat.
Working Families endorsed Robach in 2004 and in 2006 for his seat.
Robach says he's not concerned that he didn't get the Working Families endorsement. He says he has a "great relationship" with working men and women, inside and outside of organized labor.
"I think a different group of people is kind of in control of the Working Families Party right now, very much driven by New York City interests. Am I going to work with everyone? Absolutely, but it's not gonna change anything Joe Robach does. I've been first and foremost about jobs, education, healthcare for people here in New York State - Rochester, New York, in particular - and that's what I'll continue to do."
Eric Martin is the chairman for the Finger Lakes chapter of the Working Families Party. He acknowledges that the leadership of the party has changed over the past two years, but says that while he consults with the party's downstate leadership, they don't dictate to him.
Martin says Robach shouldn't write off Working Families' ability to put candidates in office. In the fall, when no Democratic challenger stepped forward to run against County Executive Maggie Brooks, Martin says Working Families candidate Patrick Christopher did.
"On a three thousand dollar budget - actually he got $2,892 - he got 26 percent of the vote. That says a lot that people in the community are frustrated and they want to see change, and Working Families Party adds a lot of value to that."
To get the Working Parties endorsement, Martin says both candidates had half-hour interviews on the same day. They were asked the same questions, and filled out a questionnaire. After that process, Martin says the vote was 23 to 6 to endorse Dollinger; he says the general consensus was that Robach left a lot of questions unanswered.
Martin says the party didn't talk to the candidates about their major party affiliations, and that the intention wasn't to endorse a more liberal candidate. He says the endorsement comes down to where candidates stand on labor and a living wage for workers.
The 56th state senate district touches Parma, Greece, Rochester and Brighton.