NEW YORK — Monday’s New York gubernatorial debate played out like an epic comedy. A colorful cast of characters provided levity, laughter and distance between the two marquee mudslingers from the Democratic and Republican Parties who spent the first month of their gubernatorial bid literally photoshopping feces onto each other’s faces.
The Fellini-esque evening played out without the usual antics and angry outbursts from ‘Crazy Carl’ Paladino. Andrew Cuomo and Paladino both refrained from their regularly scheduled negative campaigning and idle personal threats. Not even one reporter was threatened the entire evening. Instead, the Democratic and Republican candidates were content to play a supporting role in the evening dinner theater.
Stealing the spotlight from the two candidates were Kristin Davis of the Anti-Prohibition Party, the former madam of a call-girl service; Charles Barron of the Freedom Party, a former member of the Black Panther Party; and the ineffable Jimmy McMillan of The Rent Is 2 Damn High Party.
The former Manhattan madam, Kristin Davis, who claims to have hooked up former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer with several of his infamous dates, explained in her opening statement why she was uniquely qualified to represent the State of New York as Governor. Politicians are like prostitutes. “I may be the only person sitting on this stage with the right experience to deal with them,” Davis explained behind a mask of solar radiation, bleach, and Botox.
Davis, who is fighting to legalize prostitution, received more applause and laughter later in the evening when she answered a question on taxes by saying, “Businesses will leave this state quicker than Carl Paladino at a gay bar.”
She also compared the MTA to an escort agency. The difference being that her escort service has only one set of books, is always on time, and always keeps the customers satisfied.
However, everyone was upstaged by the Colonel Sanders-looking Jimmy McMillan whose beard is so 19th century it makes General Ambrose Burnside’s look contemporary. McMillan’s lightening-quick rambling responses of slanted rhymes and half platitudes brought down the house several times and are sure to be viral by midnight.
“As a karate expert, I will not talk about anyone up here because our children can’t afford to live anywhere. Nowhere, there’s nowhere to go. Once again, why? You said it, the rent is too damn high,” stated McMillan during the debate.
McMillan reiterated his party’s name nine times during the evening, using it to punctuate nearly every point he made. At one point Cuomo quipped, “I’m with Jimmy, the rent is too damn high.”
McMillan, who compulsively wears black gloves due to concerns about Agent Orange and other toxic substances, later explained that there was no need to be concerned about budget deficits. “It’s like a cancer. It will heal itself,” McMillan stated.
When the issue of gay marriage was brought up, McMillan explained The Rent Is 2 Damn High Party’s platform. “The Rent Is 2 Damn High Party feels if you want to marry a shoe, I’ll marry you,” McMillan quipped.
Even though the New York governor debates were a nearly useless parade and circus, at least they were funny and entertaining-a stark contrast to Albany politics where candidates are seemingly more likely to go to prison than to be voted out of office.
Hiram Monserrate, the Queens Senator who cut up his girlfriend and helped stage the 2009 political coup that involved Republicans and Democrats locking each other out of legislative buildings, was finally indicted on federal corruption charges recently. Pedro Espada, Hiram’s 2009 co-conspirator, was sued by Cuomo earlier this year for siphoning off $14 million from the Soundview Health Clinic.
Yet even the politicians that can stay out of prison in New York can’t get anything done. While the state budget tumbled into a freefall, Albany legislators stalled for months. Even without locking each other out of legislative buildings, the New York state senate was finally handed in this year’s state budget 125 days late.
YouTube, Jimmy McMillan Debate
Michael Gormley, All 7 NY governor candidates meet in 1st debate, Associated Press
Frank James, N.Y. Gov. Debate: Politics As Comedy, NPR
William Rashbaum & Fernananda Santos, Monserrate Indicted on Federal Corruption Charges, New York Times
Danny Hakim, 125 Days Late, a State Budget With New Taxes, New York Times