06/11/2009 01:15 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

I'm Running for the U.S. Senate in NY -- Here's Why

I am announcing today that I am running for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate against Kirsten Gillibrand in 2010. I want to say a few words about why I decided to run.

You can see an announcement video here:

I believe New York voters deserve a choice. We live in a democracy, and elections should be about addressing the issues, not about party insiders "clearing the field" for a favored candidate. If party insiders had "cleared the field" in 2008, Barack Obama would not be president today.

New York -- and the nation -- are at a critical point. We are living through the most unprecedented financial crisis in our lifetime -- and, at the same time, I see a great opportunity to change the country.

There are great choices to be made -- whether and how we will unburden Americans and businesses from the crushing costs of obscene health care costs (I have been an unwavering supporter of single-payer, "Medicare for All"), whether workers will truly share in the great productivity they have created over the past three decades, whether workers will have the right to join a union, and whether we will live up to the promise of "equal justice under the law" by granting marriage equality throughout the land.

I am the only progressive in the race. And I believe, as do my supporters, that we have a chance to move the Democratic Party in a progressive direction. New Yorkers will have a very clear choice in 2010 -- a choice of values and principles.

Voters will be able to choose either someone who put children and families at great risk by advocating for and taking the money of Big Tobacco (work she has just recently said she does not regret), someone who has embraced the National Rifle Association, one of the most extreme organizations in the country which has worked tirelessly to defeat Democrats, and someone who is awash in corporate cash.

Or they will have a chance to build a progressive movement that will give the power back to the people and make a better world.

In the great tradition of people like Paul Wellstone, I have worked my entire adult life for the cause of economic justice and civil rights so that we -- our family, our children and our friends -- can live in a healthy, safe, and morally just society. I think most people who know me will say, even if they disagree with me, that what I have fought for are principles and values that I have held my entire adult life -- not principles and values I discovered all of a sudden to run for the U.S. Senate.

In many ways, the question really is: where do we draw the line? When do we, progressives, say we simply are not going to settle for anything less than elected officials who we know have a set of principles and values that have stood the test of time and who will be rock-solid when we have to fight for a truly progressive society? Long before I decided to run for office, I have been very vocal about our need -- particularly within the labor movement -- to support candidates who are about "us" and from "our" ranks, not from the ranks of people who clearly will abandon us when the rubber meets the road.

We -- the people who are being knocked down AGAIN a giant peg in the economic ladder, the people who have no health care or inadequate health care, the people who want to save our planet yet see the corporate ethos of the "free market" continuing to ravage the planet, the people around the world who are drowning in a noxious life of poverty and despair, the people who want our country to stand for "equal justice under the law" and believe that discrimination is discrimination... period -- we cannot afford to wait. We have a president who does have core value and principles but he needs a great surge of people to push him in an even more progressive direction.

We cannot wait.

Come join us at our campaign website.