2011-07-15 / Top Stories

Socialist Announces Run for Congress

By Daniel Solomon

Chris Hoeppner, center, is running for Congress on the ballot line of the Socialist Workers Party. Chris Hoeppner, center, is running for Congress on the ballot line of the Socialist Workers Party. Last week, the battle lines seemed to be drawn for the race to fill Anthony Weiner’s vacated seat in Congress. Governor Andrew Cuomo set the date for the special election for September 13, the Republican Party picked Bob Turner as its nominee, and the Democrats chose City Councilman David Weprin as their standardbearer.

This week, the Congressional contest is getting a little more complicated. The Socialist Workers Party, after gathering 7,000 signatures over the past two weeks, is putting its own candidate on the ballot, Chris Hoeppner. Only 3,500 valid signatures are needed for him toss his hat into the ring and he presented his petitions to the city’s Board of Elections on the evening of July 13.

Hoeppner, 61, is a Queens native, factory worker, and son of a New York firefighter. He has been an active Socialist for years, running on the SWP line for the mayoralty of Seattle in 2005, when he lived in that city.

Now back in New York, Hoeppner is running for the House to help “chart a revolutionary course to replace the bloated, blood-soaked government serving the interests of a few wealthy ruling families with the state power of workers and farmers,” as he told The Militant, the house organ of the Socialist Workers Party, in a recent interview.

In that exchange, he outlined his positions on a variety of issues. Hoeppner called for the United States to withdraw from “brutal wars” and conflicts abroad, advocated an end to the war on drugs, expressed support for increased spending on infrastructure projects, and declared the strengthening of social welfare programs and unions top priorities.

One of his more intriguing ideas pertained to unemployment, an issue he said the government could address by cutting the workweek for those who already had jobs and mandating their salaries stay the same, then employing those out of work on the other days.

In an interview this week with The Wave, Hoeppner declined to articulate an agenda specific to Rockaway, stating that “you can’t separate local politics from national politics.” He did, however, take a clear stance on Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Se- curity, programs that serve many on the peninsula, which has a high concentration of seniors.

“Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security,” he said, “are totally inadequate,” “we need a massive struggle to not only defend these programs, but to expand them.”

Hoeppner also vowed to “join any effort defending the rights of workers,” detailing his participation in the strike organized by employees at the Dayton Beach Park housing complex.

Acknowledging that he is a long-shot candidate, he promised to criss-cross the district and brings his message to the constituents. “We win when we get out, talk, and organize,” he said. When asked why the voters should select him, he stated that “people are looking for an alternative, I’’m a worker, not a Democrat or a Republican.”

For the next two months, Hoeppner is committed to leading a vigorous campaign and looks forward to distinguishing himself as the race’s “only working-class candidate.”

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