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The future of Green; Howie Hawkins makes gains for the party

Howie Hawkins was the Green Party candidate for Governor of New York in the election that just ended.

By Fritz Mayer
October 31, 2014

In the 2014 gubernatorial race in New York, the Green Party is in sixth place on the ballot, after Democrat, Republican, Conservative, Working Families Party and Independence.

But in the run up to the election the Green Candidate, Howie Hawkins, was polling at 9%, and higher in some places. If he maintains that lead through Election Day, he stands a good chance of taking the third-place slot on the ballot away from the Conservative Party and moving Green into the slot right after Republican. “This,” Hawkins told a crowd at a stump speech, “would be a calling card for the next election.”

Why is Green polling better than it traditionally has? Part of the reason has to do with Governor Andrew Cuomo and the Working Families Party (WFP). Early in the year, one faction of WFP wanted to endorse law professor and political activist Zephyr Teachout as its candidate for the governor’s office. Cuomo made quite a few concessions and promises to the WFP and thus secured their party’s nomination.

At the time, State Senator Jon Bonacic and others said Cuomo “sold his soul” to garner WFP backing. Among the promises he made was that he would campaign to help the Democrats take back the state senate, which is now headed by Republicans with the support of five breakaway Democrats. Critics say Cuomo’s support of Democratic candidates has been lackluster.

Among the other promises Cuomo made was to support an increase in the minimum wage, and to work for public financing of campaigns. Some in WFP believed that would be the end of the matter. But Teachout, having been asked by some in the WFP to run on their line, decided she would instead run in the Democratic primary. Teachout, who campaigned in Sullivan County at least three times, put in a very credible showing. She garnered more than 176,000 votes compared to Cuomo’s 300,000.

A lot of the people who voted for Teachout are now not inclined to vote for Cuomo either on the Democratic line or the WFP line. Instead a considerable number of Teachout supporters are planning to vote for Hawkins.

Hawkins, in turn, appealed for Teachout voters to back him in a press release on October 27. He wrote, “I am making a direct appeal to all those who supported and voted for Zephyr Teachout. I am appealing to all those who care about women's equality, fracking, Albany corruption, clean energy, full and equal funding of schools, the end of high stakes testing, and all the other progressive values Ms. Teachout stood for.”