Green Party Gubernatorial Contender: ‘Double Digits Is Within Our Reach’

Howie Hawkins. (Screengrab: Capital Tonight)

Howie Hawkins. (Screengrab: Capital Tonight)

Howie Hawkins, the Green Party candidate for governor, is dreaming of double digits.

Mr. Hawkins said last night that he believes netting 10 or more percent of the vote in November is not out of the possibility because of liberal dissatisfaction with Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

“First of all, we got these polls, 24 percent for an unnamed Working Families candidate, working teamster with a name–those voters [think] I’m the candidate they’re looking for,” Mr. Hawkins said on Capital Tonight, referring to polls that showed a Working Families Party-backed candidate could cut into Mr. Cuomo’s margin of victory.

“That’s a lot higher than our most ambitious goal when we started which was 5 percent. I think we underestimated. I think double digits is definitely within our reach,” Mr. Hawkins added.

Mr. Hawkins ran for governor in 2010 and was able to win more than 50,000 votes, securing ballot status for the Green Party in this year’s race. But Mr. Hawkins still finished with barely more than 1 percent of the vote–though he is hoping the political climate this year is more hospitable to candidates running far to the left of Mr. Cuomo.

At the Working Families Party convention last week, the labor-backed party almost bucked Mr. Cuomo and nominated Fordham University professor Zephyr Teachout. Mr. Hawkins spoke publicly about uniting with the WFP to run a stronger protest vote against Mr. Cuomo, an idea that the party ultimately rejected.

If a few more factors break his way this year, Mr. Hawkins still argued, he can dramatically increase his vote total.

“But if people realize, you know, their schools are short of funds because of his policies and so fourth, that’s one thing–so we get a series of debates,” Mr. Hawkins said. “I think the second thing is the public sector unions are really angry at Cuomo.”

“The third thing is if the media treats it as a three-way race where I have equal status in coverage and narrative of the campaign,” he continued.

Mr. Hawkins also said he hoped Ms. Teachout still ran against Mr. Cuomo in a Democratic primary so she could “soften Mr. Cuomo” for the general election. Republican Rob Astorino, the Westchester County executive, is also running in the fall.

“I think she’ll soften up Cuomo for me in the fall. She’ll really expose his conservative policies for people that need to learn about them,” he said.