NEW YORK — Last night’s gubernatorial debate was surprisingly informative and high-brow considering the eccentric clash of the participants involved. The two major candidates, Democrat Andrew Cuomo and Republican Carl Paladino — who is known for his angry, biased and frequently offensive remarks — debated alongside the five fringe contenders who notably included ex-Spitzer madam Kristen Davis of the Anti-Prohibition Party and Jimmy McMillan of The Rent is Too Damn High Party, who vowed to respond to every question, regardless of the topic with an answer related to rent.
Most of the candidates agreed on the key issues; education and the MTA require more regulation, New York government is rife with corruption and financial waste and raising taxes would hurt the middle class. Davis, who provided some of the evenings most astute quips, observed, “We need to cut taxes, otherwise businesses would leave faster than Paladino at a gay bar.” On the topic of governmental accountability, Cuomo stated, “I spent four years in the belly of the beast, looking at state government. We have to cut the waste and fraud.”
Paladino was the odd man out, stumbling through his prepared answers as most of the candidates refused to engage him. Surprisingly, no one challenged him regarding his most hardline stances on social issues or the recent scandal involving allegedly racist and pornographic emails.
The brunt of criticism was directed at Cuomo, who is currently the clear front runner according to recent polls. Councilman Charles Barron of the Freedom Party accused him of corruption and cronyism while Davis quipped: “Career politicians in Albany are the biggest whores in this state. I may be the only person on the stage qualified to deal with them.”
The Libertarian candidate Warren Redlich stated that his strong point was being an outsider, “I’m not your typical New York politician. I’ve never been caught with a prostitute, my dad wasn’t governor, and I’ve never been convicted of a crime.”
McMillan, who was the most rambling, outspoken and animated of the candidates provided most of the evenings comedic moments, at one point shouting, “LISTEN! Do you hear that sound? That’s the sound of a child’s stomach grumbling” and finishing every rebuttal with his catchphrase and party stance “The rent is too damn high!”
As the fringe candidates provided entertainment and Paladino spent much of the evening visibly reading notes and muttering answers, Andrew Cuomo had no difficulty looking like the only serious candidate running in this year’s gubernatorial race.