Green Party candidate launches 3rd longshot bid for governor; Howie Hawkins once again pushing 'Green New Deal'
ALBANY — Mounting his latest gubernatorial bid under the Green Party banner, Howie Hawkins knows its unlikely the third time will be the charm on Election Day.
Instead, the perennial candidate from Syracuse, who on Thursday quietly announced his candidacy in Albany to handful of reporters, is hoping his campaign will help build the party's infrastructure and continue to move the state forward on progressive issues.
"You don't have to win the office to make a difference, and we've made a difference," said Hawkins, who came in third in 2014 with 184,419 votes. Despite not being victorious, he said Gov. Andrew Cuomo co-opted at least 19 of their positions to win over those Green Party voters. He pointed to the state's moratorium on fracking, the increase in the minimum wage increases and establishment of a paid family leave program as initiatives that grew out of the Green Party's agenda.
His campaign slogan this year is "Demand More" and he'll be making the case to progressive voters that they should have higher expectations of their elected officials. "We want to demand more than piecemeal reforms. We got to demand system change," he said.
The approach to overhauling Albany is one way that he believes separates him from progressive gubernatorial Cynthia Nixon, who is challenging Cuomo for the Democratic nomination.
"She thinks she can move the Democrats to a position that will really take care of the people's needs," said Hawkins, who discounted the potential for change under Democratic leadership.
This year, his campaign is pushing for a single-payer health care system, 100 percent reliance on clean energy in 15 years, a "Green New Deal" to boost employment and fully-funded public schools.
He will also be highlighting criminal justice proposals, such as an end to cash bail and speedy trial reforms, which were advanced in the governor's budget and ultimately dropped at the negotiating table.
Hawkins knocked Cuomo for failing to embrace a more progressive budget and rejected the idea that the state didn't have the revenue to fund their wish list. "I'm a progressive who knows where the money is – the rich got it," he said, calling for the state to adopt additional taxes on high-income earners to make his agenda possible.
He plans to roll out his campaign statewide in the coming days and is committed to being a full-time candidate for the next seven months, as the 65-year-old Teamster recently retired from a position unloading trucks for UPS.