Debates aren’t always a good thing for democracy, Gov. Andrew Cuomo told reporters Tuesday.
Speaking after another news conference on his recent trip to Israel, Cuomo was asked about his apparent unwillingness to debate Zephyr Teachout, the Fordham Law School professor who is challenging the incumbent governor in the Sept. 9 Democratic primary.
The issue isn’t one of democratic — small “d” — principles, Cuomo said.
“I don’t think it has anything to do with democracy,” Cuomo said in Manhattan. “I think it has to do with individual campaigns. Sometimes you have debates, sometimes you don’t have debates. It depends on the campaign. It depends on the issues, the level of issues.”
A reporter continued to press: Isn’t it a disservice to democracy to avoid a debate? Cuomo doesn’t think so.
“I’ve been in many debates that I think were a disservice to democracy, so anybody who says debates are always a service to democracy hasn’t watched all the debates that I’ve been in,” Cuomo said.
Cuomo will face off against Teachout and comedian/activist Randy Credico in one week. The winner will face Republican Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino and several third-party candidates in November.
The governor hasn’t actively campaigned ahead of the Sept. 9 primary, though his running mate Kathy Hochul, D-Buffalo, has extensively in New York City and the western part of the state.
Tim Wu, Hochul’s primary challenger and Teachout’s running mate, has also repeatedly challenged Hochul to debate.
“As election day approaches, I continue to call on Kathy Hochul to debate me,” Wu said in a statement. “If she wants to challenge my ability to lead the state, she can do so herself, in person, for all Democrats to see.”
The Cuomo/Hochul campaign has unveiled a bevy of endorsements in recent days, though several — including labor unions SEIU 1199 and the Hotel Trades Council — have long been in his corner.
On Tuesday, the campaign rolled out the endorsements of Planned Parenthood Advocates of New York State and NARAL Pro-Choice New York — two groups that had been part of the Cuomo/Hochul campaign’s effort to create the Women’s Equality Party ballot line. Teachout, meanwhile, has grabbed the support of the state chapter of the National Organization for Women.
(AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner, File)