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April 16, 2010 - 8:52am

Hawley taking on challenge of another term in Albany

posted by Howard B. Owens in politics, steve hawley.

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Batavia's Steve Hawley may not yet have a Democrat opponent -- if he ever has one -- in this year's 139th Assembly District election, but it's clear who he's running against.

Hawley, first elected to the Assembly in 2006, did something Thursday -- Tax Day -- he's never done before: Held a rally announcing his candidacy for re-election.

In announcing, Hawley made it clear, downstate interests, Albany Democrats and their leader Sheldon Silver, and legislative members who put party ahead of constituents' interests are his primary opponents.

"I’m going to be traveling as our conference program committee chairman to talk with the media across the state of New York about what it is that we stand for," Hawley said.  "I’m hoping as we tell them what we stand for, that they will read that, listen to that, hear that, and then check to see who their representative is, and whether they’re voting with Sheldon Silver or whether they’re voting for their constituents."

Hawley told the four dozen or so people gathered in the court yard of the Old County Courthouse that the Assembly Republicans have a plan to cut $4 billion to $6 billion in state spending. The plan relies heavily on eliminating fraud in social services payments.

Hawley said it's time that New York become known as a place that creates economic opportunity rather than as a magnet for welfare cases.

"We need people coming to New York for jobs," Hawley said. "We need people coming to New York for their families. We don’t need people coming to New York because of the programs that we offer for those who are not working or don’t want to work. We need to reward competence and hard work, not people who are full of lethargy."

Hawley is a Republican from a Republican district in a blue state. Even so, he said after his speech, that he remains optimistic that he and like-minded individuals can turn New York around.

In a post-speech interview, Hawley spoke more about the need for change in Albany and how he and fellow Republicans are going to try to get a message of change out to the whole state, not just Republican districts.

"We're going to travel across the state, whether it's Democrats or conservatives, incumbent or not, we're going to try and take our message to people across the state," Hawley said. "We're in a fiscal morass here. We're in a horrific position we've never been in before. A $9.2 billion deficit and the inability to say no and cut back.

"Cut backs and no are negative and they are very, very difficult and when people depend upon an elected position as their occupation they'll pretty much have a harder time saying no to somebody than those who do not. In the beginning, elected representation was supposed to be, step away from your full-time job, look at it as an avocation, go to your state capitol, do what your neighbors want you to do and then come back to your job. We've gotten away from that and we have to return to that."

Hawley said the goal isn't necessarily to get Republicans elected, but to change Albany.

"I think it's going to take Democrats, Republicans, independents, tea party members to take the state back," Hawley said. "Make it as central for the people who are going to Albany from their neighborhoods to be able to look at the entire state, as well in Manhattan and the three or four blocks they represent, or in the Adirondacks where it could take five hours to get from one end of the district to the other. Take a look at the 120,000 people you represent and then look at the state as a whole and figure we need to make changes for the state.

"It's not just a district job. It's a state job. If there are members of other parties who have different ideas, say in Manhattan, in Queens, in the Bronx, then they need to challenge an incumbent in a primary. It doesn't matter whether it's a Democrat or a Republican. If it's a Republican, fine. If it's a Democrat, fine. We need new blood. We need people who are not beholden. We need people who can open up the blinders on the sides of their eyes."

In his answer, Hawley mentioned the tea party movement and during his speech, a supporter behind him held up the "Don't Tread On Me" flag, which has become one of the symbols of the tea party movement. We asked Hawley were he stood in relation to the tea party movement.

"I think any group of people who want to participate in the democratic process and their government ought to be encouraged, as long as they're doing it in a way that is respectful of others, in a way that takes others' feelings into mind, and in a way that is non-adversarial in terms of violence," Hawley said. "There has been some indication of brick throwing and everything else -- most of the people I've talked to, and I was with a large group in Albany the other day, tea party people, a big rally, are not those kinds of people.

"They want to take their government back. They want to have a strict interpretation of the Constitution and they want to take government encroachment on everyday lives out of it. These are good people. These are people who want to participate. And this is America and they ought to be able to."

During his speech, Hawley made reference to medical marijuana and he's previously opposed bills attempting to make marijuana use for medicinal purposes legal, so we asked him if he would change his position if a scientific poll showed a majority in his district supported it.

"I represent the constituents viewpoints regardless of my personal belief and I know that overwhelmingly the people of the 139th Assembly District do not support medicinal use of marijuana," Hawley said. "I will represent their interest and vote no."

When asked how he knew that was the position of the people of the district, Hawley said he travels around the district extensively and talks with people about a range of issues.

"I can tell you as a guy who hangs out a little bit, I know how people think around here," Hawley said. "It's never 100 percent, of course. You just hope you're getting 51 percent at least."

Asked if he anticipated a Democratic opponent this election, Hawley said, "I would hope as always that there would be opposition. That's what America is all about and people deserve a choice."

AUDIO: Listen to Hawley's full speech (mp3).

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Charlie Mallow
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There is no better person in Albany, Steve has my vote.
Beth Kinsley
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"I represent the constituents viewpoints regardless of my personal belief and I know that overwhelmingly the people of the 139th Assembly District do not support medicinal use of marijuana," Hawley said. "I will represent their interest and vote no." Yeah - people are just walking up to him on the street spouting their opposition to medical marijuana. Maybe Mr. Hawley should look at the poll done by this site where the readers overwhelmingly supported medical marijuana 734 to 274 with 43 undecided. http://thebatavian.com/blogs/howard-owens/todays-poll-should-marijuana-b...
John Roach
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Beth, The only way to really know is if the Democrats can find a viable candidate, who also supports medical marijuana. If they can not, the issue is moot.
Gabor Deutsch
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I wonder if constituents is code for the people who contribute to his election/re-election campaign. I say less speeches and more getting your butt back in Albany to pass a budget.
Beth Kinsley
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John - I'm not sure what finding a viable Democratic candidate to run against him has to do with whether or not his constituents support medical marijuana.
John Roach
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Beth, An election would be the ultimate poll.
Beth Kinsley
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I don't think with all of the problems in Albany that the election would come down to who supports medical marijuana. Seems to be a pretty minor issue.
John Roach
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Beth, True, but it would be just one more reason to vote one way or the other. And, we'll never really know how people here feel until there is a contested election.
Tara Pariso
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It is refreshing to hear that parties don't run everything. I am glad to hear that Hawley is looking at issues and not whether its republcan or democrat. We have serious issues facign us and nothing is being done about it right now. The state needs to be taken back from Patterson and nurtured back to health.
Tim Howe
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Amen Tara, and its going to take alot of nurturing.... The same solution for the state level as well as the Federal level is to simply STOP the horrendous spending on meaningless things, and start spending thriftly and wisely on the bare essentials.
Dave Meyer
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For what it's worth, Patterson didn't create the mess that the state is in...it fell into his lap. This mess was created by a dysfunctional legislature that has been hell bent on spending this state into oblivion and for what it's worth...Steve has been there for some of that. He talks a good game, but he's also been seen around town with the big fake check handing out money so to some extent he talks out of both sides of his mouth. Unless and until there is systemic change in Albany things will stay the same. I'd like to think that he can be part of the solution because in these parts, if you're a republican, once you're in office, your re-election is pretty much guaranteed. I sincerely wish the democrats could find a good candidate to run against him so that the voters could actually have a choice, but that doesn't appear to be on the horizon.
william tapp
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i agree Gabor , less speeches and more action, less drawing there pay siting on there butts. im a republican but im not shure in voting for him yet.no one in Albany had done any thing but draw there pay
C. M. Barons
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Although I'm sure Hawley's heart is with his home district, I cannot in good faith endorse his bring back the bacon politics. Regardless of where the money goes- it's still a money grab. Noting that he is prepared to take on "Albany" makes him sound like a newcomer. Is he finally ready to tackle issues that have been festering for decades? I communicate with many politicians. I judge their openness by how they respond. Hawley is quick to hawk his or his party's position. (He would be ahead of the game blowing me off with an insincere thank-you.) I do not consider his snubs indicative of feeling out a constituent or being open-minded. Mr. Hawley claims to know how his constituents feel because he's a get-around kind of guy. I've yet to see him press flesh with anyone other than party insiders. Take his pose on the courthouse steps- he's not in the company of run-of-the-mill county residents; that's Senator Katzenjammer on his left. When's the last time he set foot in Bergen? When's the last time he polled his district on anything? ...And alluding to an undisclosed bag of tricks as the cure to Albany budget woes is one of the oldest bamboozles perpetrated by snake oil salesmen, used car dealers and unimaginative politicians of any ilk.
Howard B. Owens
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Hey, C.M., I have an idea: Why don't you run against Hawley? As a Green. I bet you could get Democratic support. The debates would be worth covering, I'm sure.

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