No debate planned as Dem primary for governor nears

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As their Democratic primary nears, Gov. Andrew M.

As their Democratic primary nears, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo continues to refuse to commit to any debate with liberal challenger Zephyr Teachout. Photo Credit: AP

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ALBANY -- With just three weeks to go before the state’s Democratic primary, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo so far continues to refuse to commit to any debate with liberal challenger Zephyr Teachout.

Cuomo also hasn’t committed to any debates with Republican challenger Rob Astorino, the Westchester County executive.

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Cuomo’s campaign on Thursday declined to comment on whether it will agree to any debates.

Astorino spokeswoman Jessica Proud said she doesn’t expect Cuomo to accept any of their invitations to debate because of the continuing Moreland Commission investigation. The U.S. attorney’s office in the Southern District of New York is investigating the commission created and shuttered by Cuomo and its unfinished public corruption cases. News reports accused Cuomo’s top aides of interfering with the commission, while Cuomo said only necessary advice was provided.

Cuomo won’t talk about the case to reporters, citing the federal probe.

“Under legal advice, Mr. Cuomo has already told the press that he'll no longer answer questions about the Cuomogate scandal; apparently that extends to debates as well,” Proud said Thursday.

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Teachout, a Fordham law professor, has repeatedly asked for debates. The primary is Sept. 9.

Quinnipiac University poll on Wednesday found 88 percent of voters didn’t know enough about Teachout to have an opinion.

Cuomo failed in his attempt to knock Teachout off the Democratic primary ballot. After losing his appeal this week in court, Cuomo abandoned the effort.

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“With this frivolous lawsuit behind us, I'm hopeful the governor will now agree to debate,” Teachout said Wednesday after the court decision. “We have very different visions for where we want to take the state. I want a New York with a small business economy and democracy that works for all us. Democratic Primary voters deserve a choice."

Teachout won more than 40 percent of the vote of members of the liberal Working Families Party in May, but lost the endorsement to Cuomo. Cuomo continues to have support of liberals and Democrats in statewide polls.

Also in the Democratic primary for governor is comedian-activist Randy Credico.

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