Running to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's left in the Nov. 4 election, Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins wants to pull in voters who backed Zephyr Teachout in the Democratic primary. So here was Hawkins, 61, of Syracuse, in front of a big Pathmark in East Harlem on Friday, doing his best to drum up interest, one pedestrian at a time.
For a couple of minutes, he had the ear of Charlie Valdez, 46, of the Bronx, who said he's unemployed and finds it hard to get work. Hawkins calls public jobs for the unemployed a top priority. "I like what he's saying, makes a lot of sense," Valdez said later, but then wondered how he'd follow through once in office.
Joining Hawkins with leaflets were campaign aide Anthony Morgan and the maverick entertainer Randy Credico, who got about 4 percent in the low-turnout primary against Cuomo and Teachout.
Hawkins' distinction among alternative candidates is that when he ran in 2010, he got 9,906 votes more than the 50,000 needed statewide to give the Greens an automatic place on election ballots for four years without filing petitions. Of course he eyes building on that this year and calls for a seat at debates between Cuomo and Republican challenger Rob Astorino.
Now that she's out, Teachout hasn't endorsed anyone in the governor's race. Hawkins offers this interpretation: "I can see her dilemma. On one hand she built a base of supporters who might not like her endorsing Cuomo because she'd look like another politician. On the other hand, if she endorses me, her bridges back to the Democratic Party would be done."
Consistent with his party's platform, Hawkins opposes fracking, favors heavier taxes on the rich, criticizes high-stakes public school testing and calls for a return to state revenue-sharing to relieve property taxes. He says: "The Common Core rollout and its link to high-stakes testing got everybody up in arms in the inner city, the suburbs, and rural areas. I think there's more energy around that issue than even the fracking issue -- even upstate."
IN LINE WITH NINE: The largest state employees' union, the Civil Service Employees Association, supports keeping Long Island's nine State Senate seats in Republican hands. CSEA backs, along with seven incumbents seeking re-election, Islip Supervisor Tom Croci to replace Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley), now running for Congress, as well as Legis. Michael Venditto (R-Massapequa) to succeed ex-GOP Sen. Charles Fuschillo.