After coming under heavy criticism for dodging his opponent, New York Gov. Cuomo has agreed to engage in two mid-October debates leading up to the Nov. 4 general election, but it may not be enough for his Republican opponent.
Cuomo is prepared to face GOP challenger Rob Astorino one-on-one in a downstate debate sponsored by WNYC and the Wall Street Journal that will be broadcast only on radio. He also is ready to square off with Astorino in a debate in Buffalo that would be televised on Buffalo public TV with the possibility of being carried statewide, but that one would also include minor party candidates from the Green, Libertarian, and Sapient parties: Howie Hawkins, Michael McDermottt, and Steve Cohn, respectively.
Astorino, the Westchester County executive who has been challenging Cuomo for weeks to face him one-on-one in a series of regional debates, is set to reject the offer unless the governor agrees to go mano-a-mano with him at least once on television without the minor party candidates. His spokeswoman, Jessica Proud, said the Cuomo campaign decided on the debate formats without any discussions with Astorino's team.
Cuomo, who previously ducked a debate with his Democratic primary opponent, Zephyr Teachout, has come under pressure to debate Astorino. The Daily News, along with Channel 7, Univision, and the League of Women Voters, had pushed the governor to agree to a debate.
"Just yesterday Rob Astorino said we should pick a date and he would show up," Cuomo campaign spokesman Matt Wing said Saturday. "We held up our end. If Astorino wants to pull a 180 that's entirely up to him."
When he ran for office four years ago, Cuomo participated in just one debate. But that included every major and minor party candidate and was generally considered a farce as Cuomo and GOP candidate Carl Paladino had limited air time and were usurped by "Rent is 2 Damn High" candidate Jimmy McMillan, who was bounced this week from this year's ballot.
NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote!
Michael H. Drucker
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