Saturday, December 20, 2014

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NY1 Political Director Bob Hardt's daily look Inside City Hall.

NY1 ItCH: How the Governor Tanks a Debate

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It's unclear why Governor Cuomo is afraid of someone named Zephyr Rain Teachout but he certainly doesn't want to debate her.

With their Democratic primary looming just a week from today, Cuomo has done his best to pretend that it doesn't exist; holding no real campaign events and instead blanketing homes with mailings over the last week to remind them of his achievements and to come to the polls.

It's a safe tactic, to be sure, when you have millions of dollars in your campaign coffers and you hold a massive lead over your GOP opponent in the general election.

But then there's Teachout – a political novice who has been campaigning hard across the state and gaining some traction – and winning endorsements – with the liberal wing of her party. Rather than engage Teachout or mention by her name, Cuomo tried to kick her off the ballot. After losing that battle in court, Cuomo has ignored his leftist bugaboo, thinking she'll just go away on September Tenth.

And while he's likely right, it's hardly a profile in courage to enter a tank, roll over someone, and declare victory. Cuomo's win-at-all-costs strategy looks particularly cynical in light of the massive New York Times report in July that examined how Team Cuomo meddled with its anti-corruption Moreland Commission with the heaviest of hands.

So Cuomo is apparently skipping out on a debate tonight with Teachout that NY1 and Time Warner Cable News invited him to attend. (His campaign has never officially said no to our invitation.) It also seems unlikely that his running mate, Kathy Hochul, will square off on Wednesday against Tim Wu, Teachout's counterpart who surprisingly won The Times endorsement last week.

Cuomo yesterday was asked that if he were a primary voter, would he like to see Hochul and Wu debate. The governor replied with an odd answer: "It depends on who I was and what my opinion was."

Rather than turn the primary into an opportunity to tack against the Left and appeal more to the Right, Cuomo is piling into his slow-moving tank where no one gets to debate anything.

Bob Hardt

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