Green Party gubernatorial candidate Howie Hawkins, seeking to unite disaffected Democrats and liberals, said he’s the lone progressive candidate left in the field after the labor-backed Working Families Party decided to endorse Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.
“I think they probably did us a favor,” Hawkins said at a State Capitol news conference. “They handed the torch to us for the progressive movement.”
The Working Families Party, considered the leading minor party on the political left in the state, endorsed Cuomo after he said he’d work to raise the minimum wage and committed to helping Democrats take over the State Senate. But Cuomo nearly lost the nomination to a Fordham University professor who was supported by party activists who heatedly criticized Cuomo’s tax cuts for big businesses and banks.
Hawkins, 61, a UPS truck loader from Syracuse, is trying to capitalize on polls that say, for now, a candidate more liberal than Cuomo could win 20 percent or more of the vote.
“I want to say to progressives: Let’s speak and act and organize for ourselves, and not rely on elites who sell us out,” Hawkins said, calling the WFP/Cuomo agreement a “Machiavellian deal.”
Hawkins ran as the Green Party candidate in 2010, garnering 59,906 votes, or slightly more than 1 percent. His platform includes raising the state’s minimum wage to $15 per hour, opposing standardized testing and charter schools, banning hydraulic fracturing for natural gas and reversing corporate tax cuts.
He said he wants to “go back, basically, to the kind of tax structure we had in the 1970s,” referring to higher tax rates on businesses and the wealthy. He said Cuomo and Republican candidate Rob Astorino are "trying to outbid each other on" taxes and spending but that changing New York's tax structure would be better.