© 2022 WRVO Public Media
Your Source for NPR News
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Green Party candidate for governor wants to be involved in debates

Karen Dewitt
Green Party candidate for governor Howie Hawkins says he should be involved in this fall's debates because he is the only progressive running.

The Green Party candidate for governor wants to be included in any upcoming debates. Howie Hawkins says he is the only candidate left in the race to represent the state’s progressives.

Hawkins, a Syracuse-area UPS worker and Teamsters union member, says by any reasonable standard he should be included in any debates for the governor’s race that feature major party candidates, Democratic incumbent Andrew Cuomo and Republican Rob Astorino.

“There a lot of progressives in New York,” Hawkins said. “Their candidate should be in the debates.”
Hawkins points to the recently concluded Democratic primary, where Cuomo's challenger, Zephyr Teachout, won more than one-third of the vote. Cuomo received about 60 percent.  

“This is a state with a progressive majority, and I think they’re getting frustrated that the Democrats who claim that mantle aren’t delivering for them,” Hawkins said. “We’re getting tax cuts for the rich and spending cuts on the schools, and that’s got a lot of people up in arms.”

Hawkins says there are many other reasons that he should be in the debates. The Green Party is the only minor party on the ballot that is running its own candidate and did not cross-endorse a major party candidate.

The Conservative Party endorsed Astorino, and the left-leaning Working Families Party went with Democrat Cuomo. The Green Party received more than 50,000 votes in the last statewide election, so it automatically qualifies for a space on the ballot. Others had to submit petitions to be included. Plus, Hawkins says, polls in two upstate congressional districts show him with support of 12 percent of the voters against Cuomo and Astorino. He says that’s a larger number than minor party candidates traditionally draw.

“You could make the agreement, if you want to do a two-tier thing, I’m in the first tier,” Hawkins said.

GOP candidate and Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino says he respects the third-party candidates, but he prefers to debate Cuomo alone.

“One-on-one, Andrew Cuomo and I,” said Astorino. “Let’s talk about the issues.”

Astorino would like to have several regional debates.

Cuomo has said little about debates and possible formats. He did not agree to a debate in the primary but has said he will participate in at least one debate in the general election.

“I believe we will have debates,” Cuomo said. “The campaigns have to work them out.”

In the 2010 race, Cuomo was in just one televised debate. It included an array of minor party candidates.

Hawkins says for the sake of democracy, he believes there should also be at least one debate where all candidates who qualify to be on the ballot can participate. Hawkins says he’s been in contact with media outlets that are planning debates, but they say they are waiting for an answer from Cuomo’s campaign before they can finalize plans.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.