The race for governor on Friday turned into a debate about debating. Governor Andrew Cuomo in a radio interview accepted an invitation to debate his Republican opponent Marc Molinaro. But there's a catch: It would be Saturday morning and on the radio.
“You want to call me tomorrow, I will be here,” said Cuomo. “If you want to do it with Mr. Molinaro, I will be here. If you want to moderate a discussion, I will be here.”
Molinaro in Rochester later in the day rejected the Saturday morning debate, calling for the event to be held in the middle of the week and have it shown on television.
“A debate, I'm sorry governor, is not calling into a radio show that no one will know about that, that no one is prepared for, and no one will be able to see,” said Molinaro. “It isn't a debate if the rest of the state of New York doesn't get a chance to particpate.”
Cuomo has debated his general election opponents before, in 2010 and 2014. He also debated Cynthia Nixon in August during the Democratic primary. Cuomo noted Molinaro did not debate Republican Senator John DeFrancisco who briefly ran for governor this year. DeFrancisco dropped his campaign several weeks after Molinaro entered the race.
“This is not peculiar to Governor Cuomo,” said Former Gubernatorial Aide Bruce Gyory. “Incumbents tend to not like debates. Challengers like debates. If I were him, I would do the debate just to stop the headlines and the editorials and the criticism why aren't you debating.”
Bruce Gyory, a former aide to previous governors, says having a debate is unlikely to change the trajectory of the race, where Cuomo has the lead in polls and fundraising.
“I think if you ask most voters they'd say I'd like the candidates to debeate than not debate, but this race is being driven top to bottom by Trump and what's going on in Washington,” said Gyory.
The League of Women Voters announced it will hold a candidate forum by the end of the month. Molinaro, as well as the Green Party's Howie Hawkins, Libertarian Larry Sharpe and independent candidate Stephanie Miner have agreed to attend. Cuomo has not.