Don Hassig says his brother's camping gear can wait; the Green Party congressional candidate has a campaign to run.
Hassig, leader of the the advocacy group Cancer Action NY, is running for New York's new 21st Congressional District against incumbent U.S. Rep. Bill Owens, D-Plattsburgh, and Republican Matt Doheny, a businessman from Watertown. He trails both men significantly in the polls - a September Siena poll had him with 6 percent - but he had a strong showing at a debate in Queensbury last week. He's also been campaigning hard since the spring, with no staff and little money.
In September, Hassig said he planned to suspend his campaign in October so he could help his brother, David, retrieve camping gear that had been left in Saskatchewan, Canada, in 2008. That would have meant cutting his campaigning short ahead of the Nov. 6 election.
Congressional candidate Don Hassig speaks at a debate last week in Queensbury.
(Enterprise photo — Chris Morris)
On Monday, Hassig told the Enterprise he has changed his mind.
"I have come to see that it is my highest duty to persevere in building the Green Party and feeding the passion of Americans for revolution," he said in an email. "I have so greatly enjoyed the Love the Earth Protect the Earth Change Everything Campaign that I want to keep on campaigning right through the last minute of voting on November 6th. This is exactly what I will be doing."
Hassig said in a phone interview that he will give a presentation in Suffolk County, Long Island, on Thursday, and then will likely travel to Michigan for another presentation on Oct. 9. After that, he said his time will be fully dedicated to his campaign.
Hassig said he hopes to participate in an Oct. 16 debate at the Valcour Conference Center at SUNY Plattsburgh, hosted by WPTZ-TV. He said he's contacted the organizers and asked for permission to be included. Doheny and Owens are scheduled to attend. Hassig said he also wants to participate in an Oct. 25 debate at Jefferson Community College in Watertown, hosted by YNN-TV.
Hassig said his experience in Queensbury was so positive it convinced him to stay in the district. At that debate, Hassig jabbed at his opponents for not taking bolder stances on big issues like defense spending and agriculture. Hassig wants the U.S. military to be an "all-defensive" one, and he wants to put an end to "corporate farming" that he says promotes animal cruelty.
"Hearing the people clapping for the different issues I raised, and hearing none of those issues coming from the other candidates, it just was so apparent to me that this was my job: to do this campaign right," he said. "And the only way to do it right is to be here to do it."
According to Hassig, his brother has a "large quantity" of winter camping gear at a remote site in the Saskatchewan wilderness, accessible only by canoe. Hassig said he only sees David "when he visits civilization, or when I travel with him to wilderness."
Hassig said he plans to continue promoting free speech, revolution and environmental stewardship no matter what happens on Nov. 6.
Contact Chris Morris at 518-891-2600 ext. 25 or firstname.lastname@example.org.