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Independence Party of New York

Independence Party of New York
Chairman Frank MacKay
Assembly leader Fred Thiele
Founded 1991 (1991)
Ideology Non-partisan democracy,
Political position Center
New York State Assembly
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New York State Senate
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New York City Council
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Politics of New York
Political parties

The Independence Party is an affiliate in the U.S. state of New York of the Independence Party of America. The party was founded in 1991 by Dr. Gordon Black, Tom Golisano, and Laureen Oliver from Rochester, New York, and acquired ballot status in 1994. Although often associated with Ross Perot, as the party came to prominence in the wake of Perot's 1992 presidential campaign, it was created prior to Perot's run. As of October 2010, there were 426,005 members statewide.[1]


  • Platform and candidates 1
  • Leadership 2
  • Power struggles 3
  • History 4
    • Founding 4.1
    • Governor of New York 4.2
    • President 4.3
    • U.S. Senate 4.4
    • Mayor of New York City 4.5
    • Golisano 4.6
    • Ralph Nader 4.7
    • Bloomberg 4.8
    • Spitzer 4.9
    • McCain 4.10
    • Investigation 4.11
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7

Platform and candidates

The Independence Party's platform is somewhat ambiguous. The party itself is designed to draw independent voters and allows nonaffiliated voters to vote in its primary elections, the only significant party in the state to do so. Current New York State election practice for most parties does not normally permit this. However, there is a provision in the law (§5-210.5(f)) which indicates that the party can allow non-members to vote in its primaries. The relevant text of the law says, "in order to vote in a primary election of a political party, a voter must enrol in that political party, unless state party rules allow otherwise."[2]

Like other minor parties in New York, the Independence Party sometimes nominates its own candidates and sometimes endorses one of the major party candidates using electoral fusion. The listing of a major-party candidate on the Independence line can be seen as an indication of that candidate's friendliness to centrist views. Jeffrey Graham, the mayor of Watertown and one of the highest ranking elected officials to be a member of the party, describes the party platform as such: "There is no mystery about the disposition of Line C (...) amassing the greatest number of votes to allow the party to remain on that line(.)"[3] (Line C is the line located immediately under those of the Democratic and Republican Parties; the Independence Party held that line in elections held between 1999 and 2010. Ballot position is determined by the number of votes the line gets in the state gubernatorial election.)

During each gubernatorial election, the votes received by each party determine the order in which the parties will be listed on all state ballots for the next four years. The Independence Party placed fourth in 1994 with its own candidate, Tom Golisano to Row D, and moved up to third in 1998 and 2002, again with Golisano to achieve Row C. In 2006, the Independence Party endorsed Democratic candidate Eliot Spitzer, and retained its place as the top minor party-Row C. Democrat Andrew Cuomo won the party's nomination for governor in 2010. However, Cuomo drew less than 140,000 votes on the independence line (compared to the 190,000 Spitzer drew in 2006), which resulted in the Independence Party falling to Line E as of 2011 behind the Conservative Party and the Working Families Party.[4][5][6] It fell to line F in the 2014 gubernatorial election, garnering less than 80,000 votes and falling behind the Green Party.


The chairman of the Independence Party of New York is Frank MacKay, who is also leader of the party in Suffolk County and National Chairman of the newly formed Independence Party of America. Surviving state parties of the Independence Party of America include: the Minnesota Independence Party, Independence Party of Florida, and Independence Party of New York State.[7]

Name Tenure Hometown
Laureen A. Oliver 1991–1996 Rochester
Jack R. Essenberg 1996 – February 2000
April 2000 – May 2000[8]
Miller Place
Frank M. MacKay February 2000 – April 2000[8]
May 2000[8] – present
North Babylon

Power struggles

The party has seen several major internal struggles. In 1996, the founding Chair, Laureen Oliver, declined to run again as State Chair and went on to be the party's State Secretary. She was succeeded by Suffolk County Chair Jack Essenberg. He took the Richmond County chair, Thomas William Hamilton, to court to block his forming a recognized county committee, as this would have allowed the local people the sole voice in who could run locally on the party line. When Essenberg lost this case, Richmond, Jefferson, and Suffolk Counties formed county committees. Suffolk County Chair James FX Doyle was ousted by Frank MacKay, who was elected as Suffolk County Chair and who then became State Chair later in the year. Frank MacKay, before succeeding James Doyle, was Suffolk County Vice Chair.

Since the summer of 2005, the party has had an internal factional struggle between non-ideological party members and leaders in much of New York and Long Island, and followers of Marxist psychotherapist Fred Newman based in New York City.

Jefferson County dissolved its party committee in 2010. The nine committee members split their allegiances between the Anti-Prohibition Party and Taxpayers Party for the 2010 elections; neither achieved automatic ballot access. The Nassau County committee was forcibly dissolved in February 2011 after MacKay seized control over the party's operations from Bobby Kumar.[9]



The unexpectedly strong showing of Ross Perot in the 1992 U.S. presidential election raised the profile of political independents in the country and led to centrist political parties in many states. The Independence Party (IP) of New York was founded in 1991, but rose to prominence in the 1992 election. It achieved ballot status in New York in 1994. The Independence Party affiliated with the Reform Party of the United States, which was directly founded by Perot in 1995, and broke off from that party in 2000.[10]

Governor of New York

In the elections for Governor of New York in 1994, 1998, and 2002, the Independence Party's candidate was businessman Tom Golisano. He had been the most important person in the party's founding. His personal wealth enabled him to mount well-funded campaigns. In 1994 election he finished 4th, and 3rd in the 1998 and 2002 elections, far ahead of all other candidates not running on the Democratic or Republican ballot lines. Because Golisano received more than 50,000 votes each time, the party was guaranteed an automatic ballot line for the following four years. It has enjoyed the 4th ballot line after the 1994 election, the third line on the ballot continuously since the end of the 1998 gubernatorial election cycle. Following the 2010 election, the party was in 5th place. Following the 2014 election it finished in 6th place and will be Row F for four years.


In the 2000 elections, Newman initially backed Reform Presidential candidate Pat Buchanan, but then he switched to Natural Law Party candidate John Hagelin. This resulted from squabbles between Newman's faction and the Buchanan campaign. The Independence Party chose Hagelin as the nominee over Ralph Nader.[11]

U.S. Senate

While the Independence Party considered New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani for its U.S. Senate nomination, when he declined to run, the party ended up endorsing party member and Watertown Mayor Jeff Graham against Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Rick Lazio.

Mayor of New York City

In 2001 the Independence Party endorsed fusion rule, exceeded his margin of victory over Democrat Mark J. Green, who also appeared on the Working Families Party line. It is theoretically possible, though not necessarily probable, that Bloomberg would have lost the election without the Independence Party endorsement.

The following year, the New York City Industrial Development Agency (with agreement by the state) approved an $8.7 million bond to help finance a new headquarters for a youth charity controlled by Newman and

  • Independence Party of New York State website
  • The Independence Party of America website
  • The Independence Party of New York City website
  • Unofficial website
  • Unofficial website of the Bronx, Candidate for 77th AD State Committee
  •'s archive of articles critical of Newman-Fulani wing of party

External links

  1. ^ Winger, Richard, ed. (28 December 2010). "OCTOBER 2010 REGISTRATION TOTALS". Ballot Access News 26 (7). Retrieved 6 February 2013. 
  2. ^ 2013 NY Election Law, accessed 18 Nov 2013 at
  3. ^ Graham, Jeff (2010-05-24). "Indys to pow-wow in Troy for early endorsement in governor's race". Mayor Graham's View. Retrieved 2010-05-24. 
  4. ^ Vielkind, Jimmy (2010-11-03). "Third party ballot shuffle ahead". Albany Times Union. Retrieved 2010-11-05. 
  5. ^ Haberman, Maggie (2010-11-03). "Long's good night". The Politico. Retrieved 2010-11-05. 
  6. ^ Graham, Jeffrey (2010-11-04). "Senate update and ballot update". Mayor Graham's View. Retrieved 2010-11-05. 
  7. ^ "DIRECTORY OF U.S. POLITICAL PARTIES". Ron Gunzburger's Retrieved 6 February 2013. 
  8. ^ a b c "Who's in Charge? (with A June 1st Update)". Independence Party of New York. 1 June 2000. Retrieved 6 February 2013. 
  9. ^ Brand, Rick (23 February 2011). "Nassau Independence Party loses chairman". Newsday. Retrieved 2011-02-24. 
  10. ^ "About the Reform Party". The Reform Party National Committee. Retrieved 6 February 2013. 
  11. ^ Winger, Richard, ed. (1 October 2000). "NEW YORK INDEPENDENCE PICKS HAGELIN". Ballot Access News 16 (7). Archived from the original on 18 June 2002. Retrieved 6 February 2012. 
  12. ^ Trandahl, Jeff (7 June 2005). "STATISTICS OF THE PRESIDENTIAL AND CONGRESSIONAL ELECTION OF NOVEMBER 2, 2004". U.S. House of Representatives Office of the Clerk. Retrieved 6 February 2013. 
  13. ^ "Mayor hires Indys to hunt volunteers". New York Daily News. 2005-01-05. Retrieved 2006-12-16. 
  14. ^ Independence Party of the State of New York Executive Committee (4 February 2006), Resolution, Colonie, N.Y., retrieved 16 December 2006 
  15. ^ Santos, Fernanda (5 April 2009). "Bloomberg Is Endorsed by Independence Party".  
  16. ^ Seifman, David (2011-02-18). "DA raps Indie Party in $1M Mike-elex theft". New York Post. 
  17. ^ Martin, Douglas (July 9, 2011). "Fred Newman, Writer and Political Figure, Dies at 76".  


See also

On February 18, 2011, the Independence Party's assets were frozen as a result of an investigation into the theft of $1.2 million from the campaign of Michael Bloomberg, which ended up in the Independence Party's accounts.[16] Fred Newman died on July 3 of that year.[17]


In September 2009 Assemblyman Fred Thiele switched parties from the Republican Party to the Independence Party.

On April 5, 2009, the Independence Party endorsed Michael Bloomberg for Mayor of New York City.[15]

In the 2008 Presidential Election, the Independence Party endorsed John McCain for President and Sarah Palin for Vice President. They received 163,973 votes on the Independence Party line, compared to 170,475 on the Conservative Party line and 2,418,323 on the Republican Party line.


In September 2007, activists from the party meeting in White Plains, New York founded the Independence Party of America as a national party.

In November 2006, New York Legislature with the election of Timothy P. Gordon in the State Assembly, who also ran with the Democratic endorsement.


On June 4, 2006, the State Chairman Frank MacKay started dis-enrollment hearings against Fred Newman, Lenora Fulani, and almost 140 of their followers, in order to seize control of the New York City county organizations. Three different judges, in three different counties, repudiated MacKay’s efforts to dis-enroll Fulani, Newman and the other 140 New York City activists. In July 2006, more than 4,000 New York City Independence Party members created duly constituted County Committees in Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan, so that the State Chair could not take away local control in New York City.

But Fulani — whose comrades called the purge racist, sexist,

In September 2005 the brewing struggle resulted in the party's state executive committee's ousting Fulani and other Newman followers. The catalyst was a media controversy over Fulani's refusal to publicly disavow her now-infamous 1989 statement that Jews are "mass murderers of people of color". Seventy-five percent of all state committee members supported this move.

With the approach of the 2005 elections for municipal offices, Bloomberg gave the Newman-controlled Manhattan branch of the Independence Party $250,000 to fund a phone bank seeking to recruit volunteers for Bloomberg's re-election campaign.[13] On May 28, 2005, the Independence Party endorsed Michael Bloomberg for re-election. Bloomberg won by a wide margin. During the campaign a consulting outfit controlled by the Newman wing of the party received an additional $180,000 as a Bloomberg campaign subcontractor, according to the New York City Campaign Finance Board.


In 2004 the Independence Party endorsed Ralph Nader in his independent bid for president. Nader also petitioned for an independent line, which he named the Peace and Justice Party. Nader received 84,247 votes on the Independence Party line as opposed to 15,626 on Peace and Justice.[12]

Ralph Nader

During the primary campaign, Golisano charged that Pataki's supporters had filed thousands of fraudulent Independence Party registrations in an attempt to marginalize upstate New York's already limited power in state government and to undermine Golisano's threat to the Republican power base. In the primary battle and in the general election, MacKay and followers of Newman within the IP, including Fulani, supported Pataki. In the November 2002 general election, Golisano retained row C for the Independence party by polling 14% of the popular vote. (Golisano later changed his own party registration to Republican, but finally decided not to seek nomination to succeed then-retiring Governor Pataki.)

In 2002, Golisano sought the Independence Party's gubernatorial nomination, for the third time. Incumbent governor Pataki initially won the endorsement of the Newman-influenced Independence Party state convention, with the full support of party Chair Frank MacKay. In May (only four days after final approval of the IDA bond), Golisano, supported by IP founder Laureen Oliver and many of the original founding members, launched a primary challenge. Golisano supporters in the Conservative Party also launched a write-in primary in that party. In September, Golisano lost the Conservative write-in primary, but won narrowly to achieve ballot listing on the Independence line.

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