Howie Hawkins, the Green Party candidate for Governor, said today in Rochester that by any fair and objective standard, he should be included in debates with Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo and his Republican challenger, Rob Astorino.
After the strong protest vote in the Democratic Party, Governor Cuomo reversed course yesterday and said he was open to debates in the general election. But he indicated that he preferred debates only with his conservative Republican challenger.
"After the beating he took in the primaries, Cuomo is more afraid of me than he is of Astorino. Teachout demonstrated that if voters have a progressive alternative, a lot of workers, parents, educators and anti-fracking and anti-casino voters aren't going to vote for Cuomo. So Cuomo his happy to join with his conservative partner Astorino to try to exclude candidates willing to speak up for the 99% of New Yorkers who can't afford to buy a Governor," said Hawkins.
"I am the only progressive left on the November ballot and the majority of New Yorkers are progressive. That majority deserves to have their candidate in the debates. We shouldn't limit debates to the candidates of the wealthy and special interests," Hawkins said.
"By any reasonable fair and objective criteria, I should be included in debates," Hawkins said. "I'm at 7% in the polls. Since I launched my campaign I have attracted nearly as many contributors as Cuomo. I am running an active, serious, statewide campaign. I came in third out of seven candidates in 2010 and secured a ballot line for the Green Party without riding the coattails of another party's candidate. There may be 12 ballot lines on the ballot, but there are only three distinct and established parties with their own candidates: Democratic, Republican, and Green. Above all, New York progressives should not have their only candidate excluded from the debates."
WABC-TV, New York Daily News, Univision, and the League of Women Voters have offered Gov. Cuomo and Rob Astorino a prime-time debate. In 2006, when Hawkins was the Green Party's anti Iraq war alternative to Sen. Hillary Clinton and Republican John Spencer, the League of Women Voters withdrew their co-sponsorship from a WABC debate because Hawkins was excluded. The sponsors so far have failed to meet the legal standard of having clear criteria for inclusion in the debate.
Hawkins that he was encouraged by the 40% anti-Cuomo/Hochul votes in the Democratic primary.
"It shows that many New Yorkers reject Cuomo's corruption and conservative economic policies. Those voters should agree with my platform to ban fracking, fully fund our schools, ending high-stakes testing, tax the rich, lower taxes for working people, and build 100% clean energy by 2030 to combat climate change, lower energy costs, and create millions of middle-income jobs in construction and manufacturing," Hawkins said.
Hawkins and the Green Party are helping to mobilize New Yorkers to participate in largest climate change march in history in NYC on Sept. 21 to demand action by the UN Climate Summit on global warming.
Hawkins calls his platform a Green New Deal for New York, which features public jobs for the unemployed, a $15 minimum wage, single payer health care, and fully funded public education from universal pre-K to tuition-free CUNY and SUNY. He would increase public investment in affordable housing, public transportation, and clean energy.
He would pay for the Green New Deal and for currently unfunded state mandates on local governments by restoring the more progressive tax structure and state revenue sharing with local governments that New York had in the 1970s.
"By making the rich pay what they used to, we can cut taxes for 95% of New Yorkers, increase state revenues by 20%, revitalize the public sector, and enable local governments to permanently and substantially cut our highest-in-the-nation property taxes," Hawkins said.