Thursday, September 18, 2014

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

NY1 ItCH: Is Andrew Cuomo Able to Debate?

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Andrew Cuomo fired a cannon at a mosquito – and missed.

After suffering a legal defeat yesterday to Zephyr Teachout by failing to kick her off the ballot, Governor Cuomo is now confronted by the prospect of debating her or trying to run out the clock until the September Ninth primary.

Like his father before him, it's clear that Cuomo is not fond of debates; he agreed only to take part in a seven-candidate circus in the 2010 general election campaign where the forum was most memorable for Jimmy McMillan's leather gloves and Carl Paladino's ill-timed bathroom break during closing statements.

While Teachout is hardly a household name, it's clear that she has captured the attention of the liberal wing of the party. She's managed to win the support of some Democratic clubs – and garnered some headlines as she's aggressively campaigned across the state. Her running mate, Tim Wu, is also trying to argue that he's a sensible alternative to Cuomo's handpicked candidate, former Rep. Kathy Hochul.

It's odd that a couple of professors who are political novices have the Cuomo team so spooked. Perhaps the governor doesn't want to appear weak by not beating Teachout in a landslide but his unsuccessful legal battle has already given her more attention – and legitimacy – than had he simply accepted her presence on the ballot.

Cuomo has presented himself as a sensible centrist Democrat and there's no better way to way to create a distinction for voters than to take on a liberal avatar like Zephyr Rain Teachout. Should a presidential run ever be in his future, Cuomo likely needs to understand what it's like to step out of his comfort zone and actually engage someone who doesn't agree with him. After all, Comedians aren't really funny if they're always playing to canned laughter.

Meanwhile, the clock is ticking – and that mosquito is still buzzing.


Bob Hardt

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