Though courted by his 2014 congressional Democratic opponent Aaron Woolf to seek the Democratic congressional nomination this time around, Matt Funiciello reiterated last week that he again will run as the Green Party candidate for New York’s 21st District.
“I officially announced on election night in 2014,” Funiciello said Friday. “My intent all along has been to run again. I am fully intending to run, just wanted to make sure there was an official time and date for (the announcement of the Green Party’s) state candidates.”
The Warren County Green Party will host a “Green Gala” to announce the region’s congressional, state Senate and Assembly candidates on Saturday at the Gold Shade restaurant, 99 Warren St., Glens Falls.
“The gala is an attempt for us to really celebrate our first solid year in existence as a working group,” Funiciello said.
The gala will include food, a cash bar, performances from 30 local musicians and a silent art auction. The event will run from 5 to 11 p.m., and the candidates will speak for five to 10 minutes each, starting at about 6 p.m. There is a suggested donation of $20.
In the 2014 congressional race, Funiciello garnered more than 10 percent of the vote (more than 19,000 votes), as Republican Elise Stefanik won with 53.1 percent and the Democrat Woolf got 32.4 percent. In recent months, with formerly independent presidential candidate Bernie Sanders achieving more success than anticipated in the Democratic primary, some, like Woolf, have said a Funiciello Democratic candidacy could have a similar energizing effect.
But the longtime Green is all in on continuing to progress his party in the region. Since his 2014 campaign, Funiciello, the owner of the Rock Hill Bakehouse in Moreau and Glens Falls, said the party has been meeting locally every two weeks, with 20 to 30 people in attendance at each meeting.
“The best way to describe it is heartening,” Funiciello said. “People are starting to understand Greens are a serious political party.”
Funiciello said Sanders’ presidential candidacy has helped get out an anti-establishment message domestically, but he said he was still critical of Sanders running as a Democrat. He said people with similar ideologies to the Green Party are now investing in Sanders’ Democratic campaign instead.
“He would have been an amazing voice for third-party candidates,” Funiciello said.
The Warren County Green Party evolved out of past regional groups including the Glens Falls Greens, the Adirondack Greens, the Adirondack Progressives, the Tri-County Greens (in Washington, Warren and Saratoga counties) and the Upper Hudson Greens in southern Saratoga County and Greater Albany.
Funiciello touted that the Greens are the party working-class people should be interested in, condemning both the Republicans and Democrats for operating at the mercy of corporations.
He said he believes the party will raise two to three times more than the $38,000 in small donations it raised in 2014. He compares the success of his candidacy in 2014, and the regional growth of the party since, to the idea in politics that presidents oversee the economy of their predecessor.
“Greens are now starting to reap the benefit of Ralph Nader having run 15 years ago, presenting real choice.” Funiciello said. “You don’t have to vote between lesser evils.”
“I have a feeling that a lot more people are going to come our way this election cycle,” he added. “I’m really excited about it.”
Some issues of emphasis Funiciello mentioned include local self-sufficient farming and micro-economic principles in the region.
In contrast to most small business owners in the region the Enterprise has heard from, Funiciello supports a $15 minimum wage. Funiciello said he believes the increase in financial ability for individuals to consume via “wage-led growth” would offset the negative effects of the hike on small businesses.
“Most Americans have no relation to (the) stock market other than (their) retirement portfolio. That’s not the economy,” Funiciello said. “The economy for us is how much a dozen eggs cost. How much a gallon of gas costs.”