Syracuse Post Standard: Howie Hawkins' votes for governor boost Green Party's ballot status
Syracuse Post Standard
by John Mariani
November 03, 2010
Syracuse, NY – Howie Hawkins came in a distant third in the race for New York governor, but the Syracuse resident achieved a more important goal for his Green Party.
By winning more than 50,000 votes – he had 56,868 votes in unofficial returns with 97 percent of precincts counted – Hawkins made the Greens a recognized political party under New York election law.
That's more than an honorific. Recognized parties have official ballot lines in each election and their candidates need to collect far fewer signatures on petitions to get on the ballot.
The less time Green candidates spend collecting signatures (and defending them against rivals seeking to keep them off the ballot), the more time they can spend campaigning for office and raising the money needed to run effective races, Hawkins said.
"It's going to change our focus," Hawkins said.
New York recognizes political parties if their candidates for governor win at least 50,000 votes on the party's ballot line alone.
Five parties did so in 2006 – the Democratic, Republican, Independence, Conservative and Working Families parties.
The Green Party was recognized as recently as 2002. It won the designation in 1998 when Al Lewis, the actor who played Grandpa Munster on "The Munsters" television series, racked up 52,533 votes for governor. It lost its ballot line four years later when Stanley Aronowitz managed only 41,797 votes.
Hawkins said he crossed the 50,000 vote threshold by campaigning hard across the state and attending every debate. Labor activists, teachers and state workers came to his corner as Democrat Andrew Cuomo and Republican Carl Paladino "argued over who could do the same thing better," he said.
The ballot line gives the Greens a foothold from which to pursue its platform issues, which include deeper health care reform, using the stock transfer tax to help balance the state budget and a ban on hydrofracking.
Unlike other minor parties, which tend to endorse Republicans or Democrats, the Greens will run their own candidates, he said.
He may be among them. Hawkins said he's eying a possible run for Syracuse Common Council in 2011.