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Green Party distances itself from Hassig

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CANTON - The Green Party of New York took the rare step of denouncing one of its own candidates and encouraging voters to look elsewhere after he made comments about Mexican farmworkers that party leaders found offensive.

Donald L. Hassig, Colton, on the Green Party line in the race for the House of Representatives, said Mexican immigrants working at north country dairy farms should be deported, according to a report on North Country Public Radio. Mr. Hassig used a vulgarity to describe the way in which he believed they should be thrown out.

“If I were living in his district, I wouldn’t vote for him,” said Peter LaVenia, a state Green Party co-chairman. “We knew he was a loose cannon. ... Everything we heard about him, we hoped he wasn’t going to do anything this stupid. But he did.”

Mr. Hassig’s comments put him at odds with the Green Party, which advocates for immigrant workers’ rights. The party had been wary of him all along, and pointedly did not endorse him at its May convention, according to Mr. LaVenia.

But the party’s relatively strong showing in the 2010 gubernatorial race meant that Mr. Hassig didn’t need the party’s endorsement to get on the Green Party line. To get on the ballot, Mr. Hassig needed only 34 Green Party members to sign a petition. He is a registered member of the Green Party.

Mr. Hassig, who has frequently found himself on the wrong side of the law, the media and government officials, said that if party leaders didn’t retract their statement, he would sue them for libel.

“I meant what I said,” Mr. Hassig said in an open letter to party leaders. “I have many years of experience in taking care of dairy cattle.”

The major-party candidates in the election are Rep. William L. Owens, D-Plattsburgh, and Republican Matthew A. Doheny of Watertown. In a Siena College Research Institute poll last month, Mr. Hassig was the favored choice of 6 percent of respondents.

Many agriculture advocates say that immigrants from Central and South America take jobs on dairy farms that Americans simply will not do.

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