NY21: A strong night for Donald Hassig

It’s been a tough campaign for third party challenger and perennial North Country activist Donald Hassig.

The Green Party candidate has been blasted by progressives for running a lackluster campaign, with no real organization and few major events.

Some have suggested that he might give the Green Party a bad name, a charge Hassig has rejected.

Bob Gorman, at the Watertown Daily Times, has suggested that Hassig might be suffering from mental illness.

And Hassig himself, in an interview with our Natasha Haverty, conceded that he had no real chance of competing in the NY21 House race.

But there is a long, vibrant and healthy history of protest and issue-raising candidates in American politics and last night Hassig was at his best.

Sitting on the stage with Democrat Bill Owens and Republican Matt Doheny, Hassig seemed to be the only guy actually having fun.

He avoided the kind of distracting behavior — i.e. dancing and rambling on ad nauseum — that has distracted attention from his message.

And he repeatedly chided the other politicians for what he described as their cautious, unimaginative ideas — a charge I suspect that many voters would share.

Hassig also threw out some big ideas of his own, which drew significant amounts of applause from the big crowd at Queensbury High School.

He proposed turning America’s military into a purely defensive force, withdrawing from the World Trade Organization, and banning corporate farms.

“Our country is faced with great challenges,” Hassig said.  “This is a time for digging down in our inner being and thinking about how we’re connected to everything, a time for making huge changes.”

Hassig suggested that while he might be a long-shot or even a non-shot in 2012, his ideas will be mainstream by 2020.  Then he pumped his fist in the air and gave a cheerful whoop.

Siena’s poll earlier this month suggested that 6% of North Country voters are considering casting their ballots for Hassig, which means that — if their survey is correct — one out of twenty people you see on the street today are leaning green.

For all Hassig’s troubled history, you could see last night why some people would find appeal in his radical, let’s-change-everything-and-love-Mother-Earth brand of politics.


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28 Comments on “NY21: A strong night for Donald Hassig”

  1. Peter Hahn says:

    If you are thinking of voting “green”, remember Bush v Gore v Nader. (or Doug Hoffman for that matter). Control of the House of Representatives may be on the line.

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  2. “Protest” votes can have an effect in a parliamentary system but in our system they are a waste at best and allow victory of the party you’d least like to win at worst. By all means vote for a candidate who has a realistic chance of winning even if you have to hold your nose while doing it.

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  3. Paul says:

    Yes, I would like to see Ralph Nader throw his hat back in.

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  4. It's Still All Bush's Fault says:

    I expect Hassig’s stock continue to rise as we get closer to Election Day. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

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  5. oa says:

    From the photo, one thing is clear: John Brown’s body is not a’moulderin’ in the grave.

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  6. Paul says:

    I think that if Ralph Nader were in the presidential race the president would maybe not get reelected. I think that you would see that most people in the country do not want to see him get a second term.

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  7. Newt says:

    I’m not impressed by his presentation. Kind of, “Take me as I am, dude.” Someone who took his cause seriously would at least dress as if he wanted others to also.

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  8. Paul says:

    What is a “corporate farm”? I don’t think there is such a thing.

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  9. It's Still All Bush's Fault says:

    Mr. Hassig may be referring to the “Big Agribusiness” that is driving the Amish out of NNY in droves. The story was in the Atlantic last month.

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  10. Paul says:

    But those are still privately run farms. Just big ones. He should say what he means.

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  11. oa says:

    Aren’t corporations private enterprises, Paul? I may be wrong on that. I’m going to ask JDM and Larry.

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  12. dbw says:

    I am not a Hassig fan, but thought that Bob Gorman risked a lawsuit over his characterization of Hassig as mentally ill. At the very least it was inappropriate.

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  13. Paul says:

    No oa you are correct. My poorly made point was that these large agribusinesses (Monsanto, Pioneer, etc) do not own or run the farms. But some may be set up as corporations so perhaps he has a good point. In that sense most farms are corporate. But let’s see what those guys have to say.

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  14. Paul says:

    dbw, I think that since he is a “public figure” you probably would not have much of a case here. But the comments are inappropriate.

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  15. mervel says:

    The story in the Atlantic has been pretty roundly de-bunked, see NPR’s own reporting on the story. There are no corporate agri-business farms in SLC, we wish there were maybe they would hire someone. There are large family farms of people that have been here for generations. The Amish are increasing not leaving. The whole thing was wrong.


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  16. mervel says:

    But regardless, I am no fan of this guy, HOWEVER, I think he should have been included in the debates and I am glad he was there. You have to have that alternative voice, and besides it keeps our politics from becoming so homogenized and boring.

    I wish the Presidential debates would include more of the third party candidates, Jill Stein from the Greens, the Libertarian candidate and possibly Virgil Goode the Constitutional Party candidate. It really is part of the packaging and selling of one narrative that makes sure we don’t see these people.

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  17. tootightmike says:

    Reining in military spending gets my support. We could cut WAY back and still run the biggest military on the planet…that should be enough.

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  18. mervel says:

    Right, neither party is saying that, so even if the person saying that is crazy, it needs to be said and it needs to be heard.

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  19. If Clapton is God, Warren Haynes is Jesus says:

    He’s absolutely right about the military. And the Dems are just as beholden to the complex as the Repubs. The fact that neither Doheny nor Owens will risk even suggesting what everyone knows is true is proof of the stranglehold the complex has on our elected representatives.

    What’s even more frustrating is that we could shift to a more defensive military that would still dwarf any other nations military capability on the planet many times over, still have the economic benefits such a defensive military would provide, (think more Fort Drums in America instead of in Germany, Korea, Okinawa, Great Britain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Australia, etc…)and still strategically kill the terrorists that are our real enemy.

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  20. mervel says:

    So wait, Jill Stein, a doctor who graduated from Harvard medical school, who is an actual expert on the health impacts of our environment, who is the national green party candidate, CAN’T get on the debate stage in the Presidential race, but this guy can get to debate??????

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  21. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Speaking of corporate farming, recent stories flooded the media about how organic food wasn’t any better than “conventionally” grown foods.

    But wait! It turns out there IS some scientific evidence that GMO foods may be harmful. A university of Caen, France, study finds increased risk of cancer from GMO corn and residue of Roundup.


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  22. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Mervel, no. The major parties won’t allow debates that feature 3rd party candidates. Democracy at work.

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  23. Walker says:

    And about that much-touted study of the lack of health benefits from organic food, the reports of the conclusions are really strange:

    [They] concluded there’s little evidence that going organic is much healthier, citing only a few differences involving pesticides and antibiotics.

    Eating organic fruits and vegetables can lower exposure to pesticides, including for children — but the amount measured from conventionally grown produce was within safety limits, the researchers reported Monday.

    “There are many reasons why someone might choose organic foods over conventional foods,” from environmental concerns to taste preferences, Bravata stressed. But when it comes to individual health, “there isn’t much difference.”

    Her team did find a notable difference with antibiotic-resistant germs, a public health concern because they are harder to treat if they cause food poisoning.

    Specialists long have said that organic or not, the chances of bacterial contamination of food are the same, and Monday’s analysis agreed. But when bacteria did lurk in chicken or pork, germs in the non-organic meats had a 33 percent higher risk of being resistant to multiple antibiotics, the researchers reported Monday in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.Fox News

    So let’s see. Eating organic fruits and vegetables can lower exposure to pesticides, but as long as the USDA’s safety limits are correct, everything should be alright. Oh, unless we’re unlucky enough to encounter a multiple-antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which we’re substantially more likely to encounter in non-organic food. And news stories generally gave short shrift to the environmental benefits of organic produce.

    But to say that “when it comes to individual health, ‘there isn’t much difference'” seems to significantly overstate the case.

    I’ll give the headline writer at Fox credit. They put it “Study finds organic food is no better on vitamins, nutrients.” That’s exactly right.

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  24. The many negative things that have been said about me by people in positions of power in the North Country exist as a black mark upon this group of people. I have given myself freely to the work of environmental protection. I have danced because my heart wanted to share joy and excitement. The bad people of Judea hated Jesus and I know how Jesus felt. There will always be those who hate strong, good men. We the strong, good men are hated because those who abuse power are afraid that we will bring their downfall. Viva the Revolution!!

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  25. mervel says:


    What did you think of the debate? It seems you did pretty well so from that perspective I say good job.

    Also have you had a chance to meet Jill Stein and what do you think about her?

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  26. The problem with Nader’s 2000 campaign, cited by a few commenters, was simple: not enough people who agreed with him voted for him. As much as Democrats slammed him for running (mainly because it highlighted how pathetic Al Gore was), his agenda was adopted virtually verbatim by the Occupy movement, so lauded by those same Democrats. He was merely a man ahead of his time.

    Don’t pander to Democrat fear mongering. If you think Hassig has the best agenda, vote for him. If you don’t, vote for one of the others. Vote your conscience. Vote your values. Anything else is a wasted vote.

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  27. I was one of those progressives who stated being unimpressed by Hassig’s campaign. It sounds like he did a better job in the debate presenting his case than he has elsewhere. Good for him!

    But regardless, for a major (for the region) daily to run crap suggesting without the slightest shred of evidence that Hassig has mental illness is despicable, even by the collapsing standards of the dinosaur known as the newspaper. I thought avoiding these sorts of pathetic smears was what separated the venerable daily from the cesspool of the blogosphere. What a piece of garbage.

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  28. mervel says:

    I really would like to know what he thinks of Dr. Stein and what she thinks of him?

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