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Comedian Randy Credico's Deadly Serious Quest to Run New York [FEATURE]

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #847)

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is widely expected to cruise to an easy victory in the Democratic primary on September 9, despite festering influence-peddling scandals, despite his embrace of corporate benefactors, and despite his lackluster support for the ever-popular medical marijuana. He faces only one traditional challenger, Fordham University law professor Zephyr Teachout.

Credico campaign ad in The Nation magazine
But he also faces the insurgent candidacy of comedian, satirist, political gadfly, and perennial candidate Randy Credico, who bills himself as "the most progressive candidate since FDR" and who is running on an anti-corporate and pro-drug reform platform. That's nothing new for Credico, who has long been active in the Rockefeller drug law repeal movement, the prison reform movement, and other progressive social movements.

"Cuomo's father built 37 prisons, Teachout's father [a judge] sends people to prison, my father went to prison -- I know what it does to families," Credico said, beginning to sketch out not only the policy differences but the life experiences that sets him apart from the other contenders.

Credico's father did 10 years in Ohio for a nonviolent offense, the candidate explained.

Credico lays out his platform on the home page of his campaign web site, and it is the stuff of a populist backlash to both overweening corporate control and the state's alive-and-kicking prison/law enforcement industrial complex.

Keeping to the FDR comparison, he calls for "A New Deal for New York" to "Tax Wall Street, Not Main Street," bring "Benefits for the average person," "Clean up City Hall and policing," and "Build infrastructure to create jobs." The platform calls for taxes on the sales of stocks, bonds, and derivatives, income-based real estate taxes, and a more progressive income tax, as well as raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, lowering subway fares and other transit tolls, and providing Medicare for all.

But his drug policy platform is also something to behold, and goes well beyond the baby steps taken by even the most progressive mainstream politicians. His criminal justice planks include:

  • legalize marijuana;
  • close Attica prison;
  • ban racial profiling and end stop and frisk;
  • end the Rockefeller drug laws; and
  • direct election of all criminal judges.

The Candidate (
"I'm for decriminalizing all drugs and legalizing marijuana," Credico told the Chronicle Monday. "I'm not sure if the state is ready for legalizing cocaine and heroin, but I can't believe methadone is better than heroin. We ought to be transforming Rikers Island from a penal colony to a center for job training, education, and treatment. When Attica exploded, there were only 10,000 people in the state prison system; now there are 10,000 on Rikers alone."

[Editor's Note: The 1971 Attica state prison riot left 43 people dead, including 10 guards, and was a spark for the prisoners' rights movement of the 1970s.]

Although the draconian Rockefeller drug laws have been reformed in recent years and the prison population has declined somewhat -- from an all-time high of 95,000 at the end of 2006 to just over 81,000 at the end of June -- there are still more than 10,000 people serving prison time for drug offenses, or, as Credico notes, more than there were people in prison for anything 40 years ago.

"This is happening under the purview of Democrats," he said. "Attorney General Eric Schneiderman walked with us against the Rockefeller laws, but he's been captured by the powers that be and has ignored any calls for further reform, not just of the drug laws, but also of odious prison conditions."

Once upon a time, political candidates had to deny ever having smoked marijuana. Then, one famously denied ever having inhaled. Now, they admit to having used, but brush it off as a youthful indiscretion from their wild school days. Not Credico.

"I've admitted being a pot smoker," he said. "Not every day, but it's been good for me. I smoked and I inhaled, and I believe marijuana is better for you than e-cigs. People should have access to it. It's better than drinking or doing blow," he added.

But Credico even argues that he should have the right to do blow, if that's what he wants to do.

"I can eat Ritalin, I can gobble down all those pharmaceuticals, but if somebody shows up with some pure Bolivian, I want to try that. That's against the law? Who is responsible for that, and who is enforcing it? Nobody gives a shit if I smoke a joint or do a line," he declared.

At a forum at the New York Society for Ethical Culture (
Of course, that could be because Credico is a middle-aged white guy. But New York City, Credico's home, is infamous for its arrests of tens of thousands of young black and brown city residents each year on marijuana charges, and Credico, of course, is aware of that.

"All the kids I see getting arrested are black. It's against the law to smoke pot -- if you're black," he scoffed.

"They arrest 50,000 kids for smoking pot, but I smoked it at the state capitol, and they wouldn't arrest me," he said. "We have 55,000 homeless people in this city, 20,000 homeless kids. Just think what we could do if marijuana was legal and taxed and we used it to rebuild the infrastructure and create low cost housing. Instead, he keep arresting brown and black kids."

Credico's campaign is low-budget, but he's using tactics honed by years of activism to get his message out. He travels to events throughout the city and state and works crowds -- many of whom already know him from his years of activism around prison issues.

"I'm focusing on the projects; that's where I'm getting my support," he said. "People are tired of the marijuana arrests, the abuse by police. We need a state law banning racial profiling. We're supposed to be the guiding light of the nation, and we don't have a racial profiling law."

Credico is using social media to the best advantage he can. He's produced an award-winning documentary, Sixty Spins Around the Sun, to explain how he's gotten to the point where he's spending his 60th year trying to unseat a powerful incumbent governor, and he's got a Facebook campaign page.

Over the weekend, he penned a piece for the Huffington Post, "Is New York Ready for a Governor Who's Ready to Inhale?", but when it comes to mainstream media attention, he feels like the Rodney Dangerfield of New York politics.

"I don't get no respect," he intoned. "I'm running against two people from the ruling class."

But at least he was on his way to do an interview with NY 1, one of the city's 24-hour cable news channels. And the campaign continues.

(This article was published by's lobbying arm, the Drug Reform Coordination Network, which also shares the cost of maintaining this web site. DRCNet Foundation takes no positions on candidates for public office, in compliance with section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and does not pay for reporting that could be interpreted or misinterpreted as doing so.)

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


Steve Brown (not verified)

What have you been smoking?

The platforms and programs of Randy Credico and Zephyr Teachout are virtually identical -- both candidates have said so. Why then is it your recommendation that Credico support Teachout -- and not the other way around?

It is astonishing that you think Teachout -- a newcomer to NY politics, with no executive experience -- is a more electable candidate than Credico. Randy is a longtime activist, who knows and is known by every legislator and elected official in the state. He has run for office twice before (Teachout never has), is a dynamic public speaker, and has powerful support among working class constituencies, especially Black and Latino voters, because of his decades long activism on their behalf, including 15 years as Executive Director of the William Moses Kunstler Fund for Racial Justice, and awards from the NAACP, Drug Policy Alliance, and other progressive organizations.

Credico also known to many more New Yorkers than Teachout, not only through his political activism and his prior race for NY Senator, but also through the award-winning documentary on his life ("60 Spins Around the Sun")  by Jack Black, his career as a political satirist and stand-up comedian who has appeared on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, and his frequent appearances on local radio and TV stations throughout New York, most notably on the influential Fred Dicker show, which is broadcast every day live from the State Capitol Building, and on which Randy is the "Satirist in Residence."

So although I have given numerous reasons, above, why Teachout should drop out and support Credico, you have not even given ONE reason why Credico should drop out and support Teachout

Thu, 08/21/2014 - 3:12pm Permalink
Steve Newcomb (not verified)

In reply to by Steve Brown (not verified)

I guess now it's obvious what I'm smoking.

The NY Times reports that Teachout got almost ten times as many votes as Credico.  Indeed, she received the largest fraction of the votes against an incumbent governor (Cuomo) in the history of New York State.

Who, now, do you think was the more credible candidate: Teachout or Credico?

To be quite honest about this, I am disappointed that Teachout never (to my knowledge, anyway) publicly shared her belief that the only way to legalize marijuana in New York is to find a way to keep Big Pharma from screwing it up.  That's a realistic attitude, I think.  I also think Teachout missed a major opportunity to put together an anti-fracking/anti-drug-war/pro-net-neutrality coalition.  No one can say how many more voters would have come to the polls if the anti-drug-war voters had been offered a potential winner to vote for.  It might have been a *lot*, and more than enough to unseat Cuomo.

I also note that, in supporting Cuomo, Hillary Clinton has once again showed her true colors as a Democratic machine politician, and a promoter of More Big-money-funded Government Power over the people.  Corruption is at the core of the Drug War problem.  It's the real reason why there's a Drug War.  Think about it.




Wed, 09/10/2014 - 6:10pm Permalink

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