The fledgling Working Families Party, only two years old, recently got the respect it deserves–but not in quite the way it might have hoped.

Apparently, the mighty state GOP is concerned enough about the young party’s growing clout that it is trying to rub it out completely. According to court papers filed by lawyers for the Republicans last week, the Working Families Party was not correctly organized under state election law, rendering the WFP’s endorsement of key Democratic candidates invalid.

The Republican attack was apparently inspired by the WFP’s endorsement of Democratic challengers in seven state Senate races this fall. Manhattan State Senator Roy Goodman is facing a particularly grueling challenge from activist Liz Krueger. Republican Senators Frank Padavan in Queens and Guy Velella from the Bronx also face serious contenders, as the Democrats push hard to narrow the gap in the Republican-controlled Senate. Interestingly enough, the seven Republicans, all of whom face tough re-election campaigns, had tried hard to win the WFP line but failed.

“Obviously the Working Families Party is a threat, or they wouldn’t have done this,” said Dan Cantor, the executive director of the party. Cantor called the GOP senators “hypocrites” for attacking the party after having sought its endorsement.

The Working Family Party is widely seen as the antidote to the relatively conservative Liberal Party, and has garnered strong grassroots support across the state.

A spokesman for Goodman argued that the Republican challenge was a direct response to Krueger’s attack on the Liberal Party’s endorsement of Goodman. “We are willing to drop our lawsuit if they drop their challenge,” said Bill O’Reilly. The Krueger camp said it isn’t interested.

The WFP/GOP fracas is before the State Supreme court, with a decision expected early this week.