ALBANY – Democratic gubernatorial primary opponents Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and activist Cynthia Nixon could face off in a one-on-one debate later this month.
For fans of déjà vu experiences, the current debate over debates between Cuomo and Nixon is a re-run of the 2014 campaign when Cuomo refused numerous calls to debate his then-opponent – Zephyr Teachout – in the Democratic primary for governor.
At one point four years ago, he went so far as to say some debates can be a "disservice to democracy."
On Monday, NY1, a cable news channel, sought to prod along the stalled debate talks with word that it will be hosting a one-on-one gubernatorial get-together on Aug. 22 at Queens College.
Cuomo’s campaign in May teased that the governor would participate.
But Cuomo prefers to steer away from one-on-one debates, which is bad news for his sole challenger – Nixon – in the party’s primary on Sept. 13. In 2010, for instance, he insisted on seven candidates, known and unknown, that described in various media accounts as everything from “a farce" to “vaudevillian theater."
In the large-group settings, Cuomo – or any incumbent for that matter – has far less face time with the camera, when he can be forced to answer potentially tricky questions or to take on direct verbal assaults from a chief rival. With polls showing him in command of the primary, Cuomo almost certainly feels no desire to give Nixon a high-profile forum in which to launch in his presence her many attacks against him.
On Monday, the Cuomo campaign did not state its intentions for the NY1 debate.
“As we’ve said before, we look forward to a substantive, in-depth debate about the issues that matter most to New Yorkers. We are currently reviewing debate proposals as they come in," said Cuomo campaign spokeswoman Lis Smith.
A regulatory agency controlled by the Cuomo administration recently ordered Charter Spectrum to exit the state because it failed to live up to a deal involving broadband internet services. NY1 is owned by Charter Communications.
In a written statement, Nixon noted it has been 91 days since she first challenged Cuomo to a debate.
“Cuomo doesn’t want to have an honest debate – because he doesn’t want New Yorkers to know that they have a real choice," Nixon said.