Howie Hawkins, the Green Party candidate for Governor, says the decision by the Working Families Party to reject their grassroots base to endorse Andrew Cuomo for a second time opens up the possibility of Hawkins winning in November.
"Cuomo's flip-flopping on positions before he got the WFP nomination and then walking back those promises the day after he got the nomination shows that he lacks a moral compass. He can't be trusted. There is nothing progressive about his maneuvering. His only compass is what he thinks positions him best to run for President," Hawkins said.
Hawkins says he will be facing two corporate-sponsored major party candidates in Democrat Cuomo and Republican Rob Astorino. "Cuomo and Astorino are trying to outbid each other on how much they will cut taxes and spending. What they really mean is tax cuts for the 1% and cuts in schools and public services for the 99%," Hawkins said.
"In a three-way race, I think that a candidate who wants a $15-an-hour minimum wage, health care for all, a Green New Deal to provide full employment while acting on climate change, and who supports progressive taxes to adequately funds our schools and local governments will have the most support among the voters," stated Hawkins. Hawkins is the only candidate who supports banning hydrofracking for natural gas.
Hawkins said he recruited NYC education activist and socialist Brian Jones as his running mate in order to focus attention on schools. Hawkins and Jones want to defend and improve public schools, not increase profits for charter schools and their hedge fund investors. They oppose high-stakes testing of students, teachers, and schools that, they say, is intended to fail schools in disadvantaged communities and privatize them into union-free, unregulated charter schools. They call for fully-funded public schools, with common standards and assessment tests designed by educators, not private contractors. They also call for affirmative measures to reduce racial and socio-economic segregation, which is the most extreme in New York of any state in the nation.
Several Third-Party Governors and Senators Have Won Since 2000
The election of Jesse Ventura as Minnesota's Governor in 1999 shows that a third-party Gubernatorial candidate can win. Since 2000, several third party and independent candidates have also won statewide office for Governor and the U.S. Senator (Bernie Sanders) in Connecticut, Maine, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
While acknowledging that he faces an uphill struggle, Hawkins listed a number of things that will impact on his viability: one, that he be included in a series of debates (a critical factor for Ventura); second, that the public employee unions whose members have been under assault by Cuomo provide him with support; and third, that the media give him equal coverage and status in the narrative of the campaign. If those three things occur, Hawkins says he can raise the funds needed to hire campaign organizers, buy TV and radio ads, and get his message out.
An average of early polls by Quinnipiac University and Siena College shows the governor garnering 38 percent support, Republican Rob Astorino 24 percent and an unnamed Working Families Party candidate 23 percent.
"I am a working Teamster with a name. I am the candidate that those 23 percent of voters are looking for. 23 percent means a million voters are mad as hell at Cuomo and ready for change. And this is before the real debate has even begun. I hope that the media won't limit their coverage to the horse race but will give voters consistent reporting on how the candidates differ on the issues. Let the voters decide," said Hawkins.
Hawkins said that his platform -- including the human right to a decent job, immigration reform, and ending mass incarceration -- will appeal to the Latino and African-American voters who polls show have increasingly turned their backs on the austerity policies of Cuomo. Hawkins has always done better among upstate voters but the recent Mayoral campaign of de Blasio building on the Occupy movement's criticism of income inequality shows that his message has widespread support in New York City.
"As the Times Union recently pointed out, our founding fathers' concept of democracy wasn't limited to just two parties. Our weak campaign finance laws and a commercial media that counts on huge revenues from political ads bought by corporate-sponsored candidates have put our democracy up for sale to the highest bidder. We have the rule of the rich, a corrupt plutocracy. Our campaign is about putting the needs of the millions of working people in New York ahead of the greed of the 1%," said Hawkins.