By LOUIS FLORES
Green Party candidates Brian Jones and Ramon Jimenez appeared at a meet and greet with voters in Woodside, Queens, earlier today.
An over-flow crowd showed up to meet the candidates at Flynn’s Garden Inn, and when it came time for the candidates and other community organizers to deliver their remarks, the gathering had to move to a larger space in an outside patio that was still not large enough to accommodate the huge turn-out.
With dissatisfaction growing amongst Democratic Party voters with the corporate-centric policies of Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY), it was easy to contextualize the growing interest in the Green Party’s candidates for state-wide offices.
“A few months ago, there was a lot of attention around the Democratic primary,” said Mr. Jones, the Green Party candidate for Lieut. Governor. “A lot of progressives were thwarted [when] top party leadership rallied around Andrew Cuomo.” Mr. Jones said that progressive voters, who want other options in the Democratic Party, have no candidate to support. “A lot of that energy is coming our way.”
Mr. Jones also said that voters disenchanted with the Democratic Party have begun to support Green Party candidates in the state-wide races this year, but those voters had not yet changed their registrations to the Green Party. “It’s time to make the switch,” he said, adding, “You’re right to be angry at the Democratic Party. They have become a neoliberal, corporate political party.”
Among the many complaints that rank and file Democratic Party voters have with the Cuomo administration include his record of cutting taxes for the wealthy, cutting funding for education, and making cuts to Medicaid that have served as a backdoor to effect a wave of hospital closings across New York City. Mr. Jones pointed out that when Gov. Cuomo was being challenged during the Democratic Party’s primary last month, his most visible challenger, Zephyr Teachout, accused Gov. Cuomo of governing like a Republican. Mr. Jones said he disagreed with her characterization. “He actually governs as a mainstream Democrat,” Mr. Jones said.
Mr. Jimenez, the Green Party’s candidate for the state Attorney General, was asked about one of the leading issues in this year’s election season : government corruption. During Mr. Jimenez’s campaign, he has made prior remarks about the Cuomo administration’s mistake in bringing to a premature end the corruption-fighting work of the Moreland Commission. At the meet and greet function in Queens today, Mr. Jimenez said that he found fault with Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s handling of the Moreland Commission’s demise. Mr. Jimenez noted that the commissioners serving on the corruption-fighting panel had been deputized by Attorney General Schneiderman, giving his office a special responsibility in seeing to it that the commission’s work was handled appropriately. “It was wrong for him to remain silent as the commission was disbanded,” Mr. Jimenez said, adding, “The attorney general has to be more aggressive in prosecuting government corruption.”
The mood amongst the large crowd today was hopeful, something some said was not a prevailing sentiment amongst reform voters forced to back Gov. Cuomo. And there was reason to feel celebratory. Momentum appears to be growing in the Green Party’s favor. Mr. Jones’ campaign manager held aloft a copy of The New York Daily News, in which an article had been printed about Howie Hawkins, the Green Party candidate for governor. Generally, the mainstream media deprives third parties of media attention that third parties need in order to fully inform voters about the differences between them and the two main political parties. But enduring dissatisfaction with the Cuomo administration amongst Democratic voters is still resonating with some of the state’s most influential political reporters, giving the Green Party a larger influence in this year’s state-wide races.
Indeed, Mr. Hawkins’ 2014 gubernatorial campaign has thus far raised five times as much money than his unsuccessful 2010 gubernatorial campaign, and a recent Quinnipiac Poll showed that Mr. Hawkins’ campaign received support from nine per cent. of voters, a historical high amongst any third-party progressive candidate running for the governorship, political observers note. One of New York City's reform Democratic Party political clubs, the Village Independent Democrats, has endorsed the campaigns of Mr. Hawkins and Mr. Jones. Political chatter amongst Green Party supporters indicate that endorsements by other New York City political clubs may follow. During his remarks to Queens voters today, Mr. Jones said that in some upstate cities, Mr. Hawkins is polling second, behind Gov. Cuomo but ahead of County Executive Rob Astorino (R-Westchester), the GOP candidate for governor.
“We hope to build this campaign for the future,” Mr. Jones said during an interview with Progress Queens.
This article was updated to include references to the endorsement by political clubs.