Howie Hawkins said today that while he is looking forward to participating in a gubernatorial debate in Buffalo with Governor Cuomo and Republican Rob Astorino, he said that all debates should be open to all candidates on the ballot.
"The law should be changed so that if you want to run for office in New York State, you have to agree to participate in a series of public debates with all candidates who meet the legal requirements to be on the ballot," said Hawkins.
Hawkins noted that after Jesse Ventura's first debate in Minnesota, his support doubled, and after seven more open debates, he was elected Governor. At 9% in the polls, Hawkins is polling better than Ventura was before debates were held.
"New York State has a progressive majority and I am the only progressive left on the ballot. New York progressives have a right to have their candidate in all the debates," Hawkins said.
"Debates aired over the public airwaves, co-sponsored by a public radio station, should include all candidates. The arbitrary selection of who is allowed to participate in debates is an affront to the democratic process," Hawkins said, in reference to the sponsorship of public radio's WNYC and the Wall Street Journal of a debate to which Hawkins has not been invited. The Wall Street Journal's own September 24 poll showed that 78% of voters want all of the candidates on the ballot in debates.
Hawkins' poll numbers have steadily increased during the campaign season since he polled 4% in June in the first poll that included him. A Siena poll released on Sept 23 showed Hawkins at 24% in his hometown of Syracuse. Hawkins is polling better than any independent progressive statewide candidate in New York's history. Polls released the week of September 22 show Hawkins at 9% (Marist) and 7% (Siena) statewide.
Hawkins has accepted the debate invitation from The Buffalo News and WNED-WBFO. Hawkins has also accepted an invitation to a televised debate proposed by WRGB (CBS) the Sinclair Broadcasting Group.