Astorino To Rebrand “Stop Common Core” Ballot Line To “Reform Party”

The County Executive announces a new strategy for the 2018 elections.

Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino plans to rebrand his “Stop Common Core” ballot line as the Reform Party for the 2018 New York elections.

Though Astorino is not on the Reform Party’s executive committee, according to Capital Tonight‘s State of Politics blog, the committee includes several of his political allies. The chair of the Reform Party will be Marie Smith, wife of Westchester County Legislator Michael Smith, who is a supporter of Astorino.

Judith Lass, who teaches political science at Concordia College in Bronxville, thinks Astorino will attract attention with this ballot line in 2018 even without official ties to the party’s administration. 

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“It’s interesting because [the Reform Party] was the party of Ross Perot,” said Lass. (Perot, a Texas businessman, ran presidential bids in 1992 and 1996 as a third-party candidate.) Astorino’s Reform Party is slightly different from Perot’s, though; with a broom as the party’s symbol, Astorino says the party stands for still-unspecified ethics reforms, opposing New York State’s Common Core curriculum, and setting term limits for state legislators.

The party’s relative vagueness is part of why the New York State Conservative Party, another Republican party offshoot, has reservations about the Reform Party ballot line. Conservative Party Chairman Mike Long said in a statement, “The major concern is I don’t agree with the Working Families Party, but you know where they stand. The Conservative Party has a mission. The Independence Party, I’m not sure if they stand for anything. I don’t know what the Reform Party will stand for.”

Iona College Political Science Professor Jeanne Zaino said losing conservative voters’ support due to political infighting could be a problem for Astorino—she said he needs the Conservative Party’s support so the Republican vote isn’t split.

Related: A Simple Guide To The Common Core

But Zaino also said she finds the whole process of extra party ballot lines problematic.

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“What I would like to see is each party putting out their own candidate so you wouldn’t have a candidate on two, three, four lines,” She said. “Each party should put out a candidate that best represents their ideas and [let] the public choose.”

Daniel McCarthy, who chairs the social sciences division at The College of New Rochelle, had a different take. He said although Astorino’s Common Core ballot line had a rather narrow constituency, New Yorkers who do not want to vote Republican but don’t support Democratic polices could go for the Reform Party line because it “doesn’t sound as bad as voting for a Republican.”

There is evidence to suggest the Common Core can move people across party lines—a January Siena poll of New Yorkers found 49% of respondents wanted to stop implementation of Common Core standards while also finding high favorability ratings for Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat who favors Common Core.

“The Conservative Party will push [Astorino] to take stands that will make him more difficult to be elected in New York. The Reform Party will give him more leeway,” McCarthy said.

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