A month ago, the state's lieutenant governor, Kathy Hochul, promised she would debate her Democratic primary opponent, Brooklyn City Councilman Jumaane Williams.
They finally debated Wednesday morning at a small public access station called the Manhattan Neighborhood Network, which airs only in Manhattan, not statewide.
Hochul: I believe when you run for office, you are held to the highest of standards, and disclosure is something I have called for, transparency."
Williams: For some reason, you don't ask the same questions to Andrew Cuomo."
For much of the half-hour debate, Hochul tried to dodge her opponent's attacks. Williams said the current lieutenant governor is in the governor's pocket and has done little more than ceremonial ribbon-cuttings in the three-and-a-half years she's been in office.
- After protesting him, how might Jumaane Williams work with Gov. Cuomo if elected lieutenant governor?
"I believe it's largely been an expensive, ribbon-cutting role, largely ceremonial," Williams said. "The position I have the vision for is not reliant on the governor giving me money, and it's not reliant on the governor saying what I can and cannot do."
"I really do not appreciate having the role that I have undetaken on behalf of the people of New York denigrated in such a way, to say that it's simply a ribbon-cutting role," Hochul said. "I mean, I am sorry: When a ribbon is cut, that means something good and new is happening."
Hochul dismissed the charge she was too close to Cuomo, claiming she was an independent woman. But when she was asked exactly how she has challenged the governor, she failed to name any specific examples.
While the position of lieutenant governor is an under-the-radar statewide position, this race has been contentious for weeks. Williams has accused Hochul's campaign of having insensitive racial overtones.
"I think the campaign has been insensitive about race and class issues," Williams said after the debate.
"I don't believe there are," the incumbent said after the debate. "We are running a race that talks about our records, and that's what I will continue to do."
No other televised debate in the lieutenant governor's race was scheduled, as of the time of the time the Manhattan debate ended. NY1 had invited both candidates on our air to debate, but Hochul declined.