Democrat Governor Andrew Cuomo and Republican Carl Paladino did not engage one another during a wide ranging televised debate that included all seven candidates in the race.
In fact, Cuomo and Paladino did not even allude to one another during the 90 minute debate sponsored by Newsday, News 12 Network and Hofstra University and broadcast
statewide on public radio.
They also mostly ignored numerous jabs from the five minor party candidates who were also present on the debate stage.
Cuomo, looking relaxed and knowledgeable, calmly rattled off his various proposals for capping property taxes and consolidating government.
“You can’t just keep going to the taxpayers and saying more money, more money, more money,” Cuomo said. “Run the government well.”
Cuomo, who has served as the State’s Attorney General for four years, told the audience he is the only candidate with the credentials and track record to fix a broken government and fight rampant corruption that he says has become a “national embarrassment”.
“I put people in jail, and yes, it was hard,” Cuomo said. “But that’s what you’re going to have to do if you’re going to restore the trust in this government.”
Paladino also stuck to the issues. At first he seemed nervous, at times fumbling for words. He at one point confused the state’s Medicaid program with the federal Medicare program. But Paladino gained confidence and momentum as the debate progressed, ending in a
closing statement in which he fended off charges that he is not fit to be governor, saying he’s not angry, but “passionate about saving New York” .
“I’m going to tell me my plan, you tell me if it sounds crazy,” Paladino said. “I’m going to lower income taxes by 10%, I’m going to cut New York state spending by 20 percent. I’m going to demand eight year term limits.”
Charles Barron, running on the Freedom Party, along with Warren Redlich of the Libertarian Party, took shots at the two more mainstream candidates, Barron accused Cuomo of selective prosecution of corrupt politicians and of pushing for job reductions.
“Cuomo’s going to be the king of lay offs, trust me,” said Barron. “That’s why you’d better go with me.”
Redlich attacked Paladino for donations the Buffalo developer made to top Democratic politicians, and wondered “why a supposedly conservative republican is giving money to Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer and John Kerry”.
“It’s because he’s trying to buy something,” Redlich said.
Libertarian Redlich advocates privatizing the MTA and getting rid of Thruway tolls.
Howie Hawkins, with the Green Party, touted what he calls the Green New Deal. It includes government jobs for the unemployed, and a single payer health system. Like Barron, with the Freedom Party, Hawkins thinks the central problem with the budget and the economy is
that the rich don’t pay enough taxes.
“We just have to make the tax structure more progressive so the rich start pulling their weight in our society again,” said Hawkins.
Jimmy McMillan made a refrain throughout the night of the name of his party, the Rent is Too Damn High Party, saying he was looking out for the poorest.
“It all boils down to one thing, rent,” McMillan said. “It’s too damn high.”
McMillan says he’d get rid of rent regulation boards and make New York an “independent” state, with it’s own energy sources.
And the former Madame Kristen Davis, running on the Anti Prohibition Party line and who wants to legalize marijuana and gambling, made no secret of her former line of work running an escort service business.
“The career politicians in Albany are the biggest whores in this state, ” said Davis. “I might be the only person sitting on this stage with the right experience to deal with them.”
The debate was the first and possibly the last debate among any of the gubernatorial candidates, no other contests are currently scheduled.
The debate comes as the first poll was released since Paladino’s anti-gay comments to an Orthodox Jewish sect. The New York Times survey found Cuomo far ahead of his Republican challengers, with Cuomo at 59 percent and Paladino with less than a quarter of voters’ support, at 24 percent.