Howie Hawkins said today that while he hoped that Zephyr Teachout's potential entrance into the Democratic primary would broaden the gubernatorial campaign debate, he believes it would have the opposite impact.
"We need to replace the failed policies of the Democratic Party, not replace its ringleader. The Democrats have long been a party of the 1%, largely financed and controlled by the same corporate forces that dominate the Republicans as well. Workers, women, immigrants, people of color and environmentalists need their own party and that remains the Green Party," noted Hawkins, a Teamster from Syracuse.
Hawkins noted that while he got the third highest number of votes for Governor last time, the media has given more attention to someone who has never run before and is unknown to the general public and even activists, and campaigned for the WFP nomination for just one day before the WFP convention.
"The narrative from Teachout's candidacy will be to reinforce rather than replace the two-party system of corporate control. Even when she sought the WFP line she focused on the Democrats. What we need instead is to build a party of the 99% to win living wage jobs for all, action on climate change, an end to the new Jim Crow, and making health care a right," said Hawkins.
"We need to replace elite corporate rule and theft of labor's product under capitalism with a democratic socialism of political equality where working people enjoy the full fruits of their labor," he added.
Hawkins added that Teachout's late entrance into the race made it highly unlikely that she would meet the legal requirements of the state's ballot access law, which in addition to collecting 15,000 signatures from registered Democrats, also requires that at least 100 of the signatures come from at least half of the Congressional Districts. The main question is whether Cuomo or his allies would expend the resources needed to knock her off the ballot.
Hawkins noted that a more progressive challenger than Teachout is already seeking the Democratic nod.
Hawkins said that he strongly disagreed with Teachout's promotion of a flawed partial public campaign finance system which would enable private special interest money to continue to buy politicians. "Teachout and Cuomo largely agree on a limited campaign finance reform agenda. I have pointed out for years why we need more fundamental changes, such as a full public campaign finance system as well as constitutional reforms to end the protection of massive campaign donations as free speech," Hawkins remarked.
Hawkins said that if Teachout ever makes up her mind and decides to run, he looks forwarding to debating her over a progressive agenda for New York.