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'It's really going to hurt Cuomo:' Howie Hawkins on Miner's gubernatorial candidacy
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Green Party Gubernatorial candidate Howie Hawkins today described Stephanie Miner's entrance into the governor's race as an effort to chip away at support for Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
"My general take is she's going to split the centrist vote from Cuomo," Hawkins said Monday morning. "It seems it's really going to hurt him."
Hawkins said Miner will provide another outlet for "anti-Cuomo Democrats," a faction of progressives who consider the governor to be too moderate. Many of those voters have backed Cynthia Nixon, who is running a Democratic primary campaign on Cuomo's left.
Hawkins, however, doesn't expect Nixon to remain in the race after the primary in September. A poll last week showed her trailing Cuomo by 35 points among likely voters. That same poll showed Cuomo leading the Republican candidate, Marc Molinaro, by 19 points.
Nixon has the endorsement of the Working Families Party, ensuring her a spot on the November ballot. She could, however, choose to suspend her campaign, or the party could shuffle her off its line if she doesn't win the Democratic nomination.
Miner, a Democrat, would then be the de facto choice for progressives who don't support Cuomo. But Hawkins said he doesn't think her candidacy will be enough to spoil a Cuomo victory in a heavily Democratic state.
"I just don't see people going for it," he said. "I think the Democratic voters are going to say, 'We got to stick with the Dems because we don't want a Republican.' "
Hawkins, who is a recently retired UPS driver, campaigned to succeed Miner as Syracuse mayor last year. He's run for office more than 20 times, including bids for governor, Syracuse Common Council, city auditor and state Senator.
He's never run against Miner, but was often critical of her leadership as Syracuse mayor. When asked to grade her performance last year, he gave her a D.
"The city is not bankrupt... yet," Hawkins said. "She initiated no progressive solutions for fiscal decline, concentrated poverty, or segregated schools."
Miner is the third Syracuse politician to join the race for governor. State Sen. John DeFrancisco sought the GOP bid earlier this year. He suspended his campaign after Marc Molinaro secured the nomination.
Hawkins said the wide field from Syracuse is a reflection of the broken economy upstate.
"Upstate is saying 'When are we going to get out of the doldrums economically?" he said. "I notice people are saying this isn't working. There's a lot of cynicism about Cuomo. I'm going to Buffalo Thursday and the theme is, 'Where's the Buffalo Billion?'"