As I was flying back to New York City last night, there was a perfect illustration of where things stand in the race for governor – thanks to the little TV on the back of the seat in front of me.
A few minutes into the six o'clock news, an ad attacking GOP candidate for governor Rob Astorino popped up – courtesy of the State Democratic Party. On another channel, an ad for Andrew Cuomo came on, touting his record for governor. Several minutes later – at 6:16 p.m. – a story about a new poll appeared, showing that the governor is running away with the race. That's it for the Cuomo-Astorino campaign on at least two stations last night.
While it's a different story for newspaper readers (and do they still exist?), it seems that New Yorkers who watch TV besides NY1 will more likely be exposed to an ad touting Cuomo or ripping Astorino than learning anything about the actual race.
That's probably just fine for the governor who wants any questions about his meddling with the Moreland Commission to go away. Meanwhile, there could be a Democratic primary in five weeks – should Zephyr Teachout make the ballot – and there's a general election in little more than three months. If there's ever been a campaign under the radar, this is it.
Debates? Cuomo's candidate for lieutenant governor, Kathy Hochul, has hardly committed to squaring off against Tim Wu before next month's primary or the GOP's Chris Moss before November. And don't count on Cuomo agreeing to any kind of one-on-one debates with either Teachout or Astorino. He avoided head-to-head face-offs with Carl Paladino four years ago and it seems unlikely that he'd actually take the stage with more than the entire ballot of candidates like he did four years ago – turning the debate into a clown-car forum that looked like it was sponsored by P.T. Barnum.
It's sad and disappointing because there are real questions to be asked in this race that deserve to be addressed in something longer than a 30-second ad paid for by the governor's friends.
Through this sleepy summer, the biggest opponent Cuomo has faced is U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara who seems to have plenty of questions for the governor and his aides. But for now, New Yorkers and much of the media don't seem to be that curious in any of the answers.