Don Hassig was by turns messianic, vulgar and unhinged in an hour-long radio appearance this morning with Watertown Mayor Jeff Graham.
"I want to be more like Jesus," Mr. Hassig said. "I know Jesus wouldn't say, 'Frack you.' I have too much Geronimo."
The rest of Mr. Graham's interview with Mr. Hassig, the Green Party candidate in the 21st Congressional District, went much the same way. To the chagrin of Green Party leaders, he's on the line against Rep. Bill Owens, D-Plattsburgh, and Republican Matt Doheny.
Mr. Hassig said he wanted to "kick [government and corporate] ass," said that the New York City police should be sent to Mars and called for a United States of North America, which would include Canada and Mexico. He said that the media in Watertown were "creepy." He also said that he wants to find a partner so that he can pass on his superior genes, Mr. Graham said later (I only caught the second half of the intervew).
Mr. Graham's listeners were titillated.
"That dude's a nutcase, man," one caller said.
"Frack you," Mr. Hassig responded — using the shorthand for hydrofracknig as a stand-in for the F-bomb.
Mr. Hassig said he has no TV or microwave oven, but he does have electricity, for lights and computers.
One caller asked Mr. Hassig if he believed in aliens.
"I refuse to answer that question," Mr. Hassig said. "He's fracking with me."
One caller gave Mr. Hassig a sympathetic response.
"That's rude, that's terrible to call up. Why don't they try to run for office, to see how kooky your ideas are? I don't think he's kooky at all," the caller said.
Mr. Hassig, veering more toward Jesus than Geronimo in this particular moment. was pleased.
"I'm not kooky in the least, you're a good guy, I love you, you're a good solid American," he said. That's what this election is about, having good, strong Americans run the show instead of these crazy rich people."
Then the next person called, and it was back to Geronimo.
"Mayor Graham," the caller said, "I'm seriously concerned for your safety right now, there's an insane person in your office."
Mr. Hassig fired back: "What a loser. This crap about me being insane, I'm a very clear minded, reasonable person, and you're a loser."
That prompted a bit of a back-and-forth between Mr. Graham and Mr. Hassig, which Mr. Graham later described as great radio. It really was.
The pertinent question here, besides the general amusement of the sideshow, is what effect Mr. Hassig will have on the two candidates who are actually running to win this election. Many people, including the Doheny campaign, believe that any vote for Mr. Hassig is a vote that would have otherwise gone to Mr. Owens. I'm not sure it's as one-to-one as that, but certainly it's not helping the Democrat.
I do wonder whether Mr. Hassig's appearance on the radio will help get more votes for Mr. Hassig or fewer. His favorability rating is 6 percent favorable to 19 percent unfavorable, and it's even more stark in Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties, where more people know him (he's from Colton). Here, 29 percent have an unfavorable view of him, while 7 percent have a favorable view of him.
But many people aren't familiar with him. That might have changed with his interview today. But will that earn him any votes, or turn them off to the bumptious, bearded Green?
His own closing argument: "i can get those corporations out of government forever. Amen."