Participating in Monday’s debate was a “pleasant surprise” for Green Party gubernatorial candidate Howie Hawkins.
A statewide forum with the six other candidates running for governor will go a long way in helping him secure the needed 50,000 votes in order for the Green Party to secure an automatic spot on the ballot.
But he also sees the advantage for the Democratic frontrunner Andrew Cuomo.
“I’m sorting of thinking if I put myself in Cuomo’s shoes, this is what I’d do,” Hawkins said. “The more of us who are there, there’s less between him and Paladino.”
Still, Hawkins said he would lay out his case for a progressive income tax and a “green” stimulus plan.
“I think the way I get through is I contrast my prosperity plan with the austerity plans of the major party candidates,” he said. “That green new deal is is full employment, fully-funded educated and a big green stimulus project.”
He thinks Cuomo, who leads Republican Carl Paladino by double digits in statewide polls, may not be counting on him to give a spirited performance, but Hawkins said he plans to.
Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Warren Redlich said the free-for-all forum is ultimately good for Paladino because it keeps attention off of him.
“The less he talks the better for him,” he said.
Viewers are also hoping for something of a NASCAR-style car crash with Paladino, Redlich said.
“People aren’t going to be tuning in to hear Andrew Cuomo speak or Warren Redlich speak, they’re going to tune in to hear what Paladino says,” Redlich said.
For his part, Paladino said in a recent interview with Gannett’s Albany Bureau that he looks forward to having the minor party candidates in the debate.
“They worked hard to get their petitions and to get on the ballot. They’re entitled to speak,” Paladino said. “Andrew and his highfalutin attitude, OK, he didn’t want those people. But finally he agreed to it; we had to shame him into it.”