Howie Hawkins is not the governor elect of New York State, but his party has walked away from the election with the best they could have hoped for: with 84 percent of districts reporting, Green Party candidate Hawkins passed the 50,000 vote mark, which will give the Green Party a guaranteed line on state ballots during the next four years.
It’s the first time the Green Party achieved such success since 1998, when the Al Lewis-Alice Green ticket took in 52,000 votes—and that’s back when there was still a Liberal Party! The Party was kicked off in 2002 (Nader backlash?), when Stanley Aronowitz took in about 42,000 votes; Malachy McCourt failed to win the line back in 2006, when he pulled in just slightly more.
In fact, Hawkins did better than any other third party candidate, even though the coverage he received following that wacky debate was next to nil. If you Googled “Howie Hawkins” yesterday, The L‘s pre-debate Q&A was the first result from a media organization. Even kooky favorite Jimmy McMillan, of the Rent is Too Damn High! Party, pulled in less than one percent of the vote.
Media seem to treat third party candidacies as diverting side shows—unless, say, there are murmured rumors a “legitimate” candidate like Bloomberg might run for president—as when the fascination never ceased, during New York City’s last mayoral campaign, over whether the Naked Cowboy would run. During the same election, the Green Party tried to exploit media dismissal when they ran Reverend Billy, who’s both a copy-attracting persona and a man with a thorough commitment to real issues of justice. Still, the one time the Times covered the campaign, they attached the headline “Comic Pastor Runs for Mayor”. Yuk yuk!
But Hawkins’ success gives the Green Party a platform off of which to build. “This is a building block for the future,” Eric Jones, co-chair of the NYS Green Party, said in a press release. “We are going to use this victory to elect Greens statewide, starting at the local level and moving on up to the state.” If this country, and state, is truly angry about corrupt incumbents, let them use their imaginations in the voting booths: let them vote for principled candidates of reform not beholden to the debauched coffers of the major parties.