Over the years, the Working Families Party has endorsed almost every one of the leading candidates in a hotly contested race for a newly configured House seat in the heart of New York City: former Mayor Bill de Blasio, Representative Mondaire Jones, Assemblywoman Jo Anne Simon and Carlina Rivera, a city councilwoman.
But when forced to pick a candidate in the Aug. 23 primary contest, the party voted on Thursday to support one of its lesser-known former picks, Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou, a rising progressive voice from Lower Manhattan.
“As working people in NY-10 face rising rents, higher costs, and a worsening climate crisis, we know Yuh-Line will put the needs of everyday New Yorkers before the whims of billionaires and special interests,” said Sochie Nnaemeka, the director of the Working Families Party in New York, calling her a “steadfast” supporter of workers, tenants, immigrants and small businesses.
The Working Families Party, a stalwart of New York’s institutional left, has seen its influence curbed in recent years, particularly in marquee races for mayor and governor. But in an unusually crowded House race — as many as 15 Democrats are competing for the nomination — playing out over just a couple of months, the group and its ties could conceivably shift the tide toward Ms. Niou, 38, or at least keep her candidacy viable against better-known and better-funded rivals.
The Working Families Party has “always been my home,” Ms. Niou said in a statement.
“Alongside WFP, I have fought to protect our community from the constant attacks of a far-right Republican Party, and stood up to the complacency of corporate Democrats who fail to recognize the crisis our country faces,” she said. “Together, we will build a more just and fair democracy that works for all of us.”
Ms. Niou had been challenging a fellow Democrat for a State Senate seat when the new court-ordered congressional maps came down and prompted her to quickly change course. The new House seat contains all of the territory she already represents in Albany, including Chinatown, the Lower East Side and the Financial District.
Her liberal politics and Taiwanese American roots could also position her well in the district’s Brooklyn section, which includes affluent brownstone communities and a sizable Asian population in Sunset Park.
In her campaign for Congress, Ms. Niou has already sketched out an ambitious, left-leaning agenda. She supports universal, single-payer health care; fellow New Yorker Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal and the elimination of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Progressives appear to be splitting over the race. Several national left-leaning groups have endorsed Mr. Jones, who had the Working Families Party’s support in his current Westchester County district, but lost it when he decided to jump to Brooklyn to run in the open seat. And last week, Representative Nydia Velázquez, a leading voice on the left in New York City, backed Ms. Rivera, a fellow Latina.