(The following was originally published on MSNBC.)
The 2014 New York governor’s race is not Howie Hawkins’ first dance. Hawkins, the Green Party’s gubernatorial nominee and a long-time UPS truck unloader, is a perennial candidate for public office, having logged six unsuccessful races in just eight years. This time, though, is different.
Politics to the left of the Democratic Party is having a miniature resurgence across the country. Recent polling shows that young people between the ages of 18 and 29 have a slightly more positive view of “socialism” than “capitalism.” For the first time in at least a century, a socialist is holding citywide office in Seattle, Wash. One of the summer’s hottest bestsellers is a treatise on wealth inequality written by a leftist French economist. And in New York – where Bill de Blasio recently seized control of the largest city in the country by running on an anti-inequality platform – Hawkins is betting that widespread dissatisfaction with Gov. Cuomo will give his ticket a fighting chance.
The incumbent governor and rumored presidential candidate has been a deeply polarizing figure in New York politics. Although he’s courted progressive adoration through a series of big-ticket achievements like the passage of New York’s 2011 marriage equality law, he’s also cut taxes for the wealthy and abandoned the liberal push for public financing of elections. His economically conservative policies have earned him the moniker “Governor 1%” from disaffected leftists.