A new Siena College poll this morning shows that all three Democratic candidates for statewide office hold 20-point leads over their Republican opponents. But there's a big difference between Governor Cuomo and the other two main candidates on the Democratic ticket: they're appearing in one-on-one televised debates with their GOP opponents and he's not.
Apparently believing there's safety in numbers, Cuomo tonight is facing off against Republican Rob Astorino as well as the Libertarian and Green Party candidates in the only debate in the race.
While Tom DiNapoli holds a massive lead over Bob Antonacci, the state comptroller squared off against his Republican opponent at City University's Baruch College last week. State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is following suit with a debate in suburban Buffalo next week against John Cahill that NY1 and Time Warner Cable News is hosting. But with Cuomo, there has been a lot of ducking when it comes to standing up against Rob Astorino.
Cuomo got hit with a pile of criticism four years ago when he agreed to a debate in the race that featured all seven candidates on the ballot – a bizarre episode he recounts in his new book.
"It was a true New York gathering. Democracy at work," Cuomo wryly notes. "We debated the issues that mattered most to New Yorkers – the slumping economy, the ineffective state government, and high taxes – as best we could with so many of us on stage,'' writes the governor.
Cuomo could write a new chapter tonight by agreeing to debate just his main opponent. But at this stage in the race, it seems highly unlikely that he'll follow the lead of DiNapoli and Schneiderman. You can't teach an old Cuomo some new debate tricks.