WXXI AM News

Governor's debate is on

Oct 22, 2018

Marc Molinaro, the Republican candidate for governor, speaks in Albany in mid-October.

After weeks of wrangling, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his Republican opponent, Marc Molinaro, have agreed to a televised debate at 7 p.m. Tuesday on CBS2 in New York City. But not everyone is satisfied.

The deal comes after the New York Post featured on its front page for two days in a row a digitally edited image of Cuomo in a chicken suit to illustrate what it said was the governor’s reluctance to agree to terms of a debate.

Besides Cuomo, Molinaro will be the only other candidate invited.

Molinaro said he wanted more than one debate, and he sought to focus on upstate New York and Long Island as well as New York City. Speaking on a conference call with reporters, Molinaro said as the underdog in the race, he’s taking what he can get for now.

“We are debating tomorrow,” said Molinaro, who asked the media to join him in calling for more debates around the state. “The governor would have to explain why he thinks other parts of the state aren’t important enough.”

A spokeswoman for Cuomo’s campaign turned the tables on Molinaro, saying it is the Republican candidate who has been reluctant to debate. 

"After days of ducking the debate, we’re glad Marc Molinaro has finally agreed," said Dani Lever.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks at the state's Business Council meeting in late September.
Credit Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office

The other candidates in the race for governor are dismayed over not being included in the forum.

Independent candidate for governor and former Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner said a single downstate debate “hurts democracy.”

“Fundamental to our democracy is the idea that voters deserve to hear from you,” Miner said. “Andrew Cuomo is doing a disservice to this state by not allowing that to happen.”

Miner said incumbent governors in other states who, like Cuomo, are ahead in the polls, still have agreed to hold several debates with their opponents.

One other debate in the governor’s race is planned for Nov. 1 in Albany. It will be hosted by the League of Women Voters and The College of Saint Rose. The League’s Jennifer Wilson said Molinaro, Miner, Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins and Libertarian candidate Larry Sharpe have all accepted. So far, Cuomo has not said yes. 

“We can’t force him to be there,” Wilson said. “But if he doesn’t come, we are going to honor those four candidates who will show up.”

Wilson said having just one debate between the two major party candidates is “unacceptable.”

“We really need to hear from all five candidates at the same time,” Wilson said, “so that voters can make an informed decision on Election Day.” 

The Nov. 1 debate will be livestreamed on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, as well as on the League’s and The College of Saint Rose’s websites.