Howie Hawkins, Green candidate for Governor, insists that all the gubernatorial debates should be televised statewide and that he should be included. With poll numbers ranging from 9% statewide to 24% in Syracuse Hawkins has proved that he represents a significant portion of the electorate.
Hawkins obtained official ballot status for the Green Party 4 years ago by pulling more than the required 50,000 votes. Hawkins, Cuomo and Astorino are the three candidates nominated by parties with official party status in NY.
Hawkins said that he supported the right of all candidates who have qualified for the ballot to be in the debates, especially the first one.
Last week Hawkins accepted the debate invitation from The Buffalo News and WNED-WBFO. Hawkins has also accepted an invitation to a televised debate proposed by WRGB (CBS) the Sinclair Broadcasting Group. He wants any debate to be available to any television or radio station or network to broadcast.
Hawkins said he was opposed to the debate sponsored by WNYC and Wall Street Journal, which excludes Hawkins and is not planned to be televised. He said that WNYC has a history of opposition to open debates.
Hawkins noted that after Jesse Ventura's first debate in Minnesota, his support doubled, and after seven more open debates, he was elected Governor. At 9% in the polls, Hawkins is polling better than Ventura was before debates were held. Hawkins is polling better than any independent progressive statewide candidate in New York's history.
"New York State has a progressive majority and I am the only progressive left on the ballot. New York progressives have a right to have their candidate in all the debates," Hawkins said.
The Green Party is one of three political parties in New York that consistently run their own candidates, as opposed to endorsing candidates of other parties. Mr. Hawkins has positions that stand in stark contrast to both Andrew Cuomo and Rob Astorino, and he comes closest to representing the 40% of the voters that rejected Cuomo in the recent Democratic primary.
"The law should be changed so that if you want to run for office in New York State, you have to agree to participate in a series of public debates with all candidates who meet the legal requirements to be on the ballot," said Hawkins.
"Cuomo realizes that he has to participate in debates, especially after his poor showing in the primary. But he prefers to deliver his message on radio, since he feels he can better control the message and audience. We want to reach as wide an audience as possible, and that means televised debates," said Hawkins.