ALBANY - All seven candidates running for governor have agreed to participate in a debate on Oct. 18 at Hofstra University that will be broadcast statewide, the organizers said Thursday.
The 90-minute debate will be the first of the gubernatorial campaign, according to sponsors News 12 Networks, Newsday and Hofstra. It will take place before a live audience of about 1,000 people in the university's David S. Mack Sports & Exhibition Complex.
The confirmed participants are Andrew Cuomo, Democratic Party; Carl Paladino, Republican Party; Howie Hawkins, Green Party; Warren Redlich, Libertarian Party; Charles Barron, Freedom Party; Kristin Davis, Anti-Prohibition Party; and Jimmy McMillan, Rent is 2 Damn High Party.
All but Paladino had accepted invitations by the 4:34 p.m. announcement of the debate. He agreed at 6:36 p.m., after his campaign and Cuomo's traded barbs over who was more willing to debate.
In a three-minute paid announcement after 5 p.m. on Buffalo-area television, Paladino alleged that Cuomo didn't want minor party candidates included in the debates. "Come out and debate like a man," Paladino said in the taped message.
As Paladino spoke, Cuomo campaign lawyer Benjamin Lawsky released a statement saying Cuomo had accepted the News 12, Newsday and Hofstra invitation Wednesday afternoon.
Paladino campaign manager Michael Caputo shot back that Paladino had initially agreed to debate at Hofstra on Oct. 14, but the organizers changed the date to Oct. 18, when Paladino had a scheduling conflict. That conflict now will be resolved, Caputo said.
Bickering between Cuomo and Paladino about debates has been going on since the Sept. 14 primaries. The League of Women Voters of New York State said Wednesday that Paladino had agreed to a debate on public TV stations across the state, but they had yet to hear from Cuomo.
The Oct. 18 debate at Hofstra will be broadcast live at 7 p.m. on the News 12 channels on Long Island and in Westchester, the Bronx and Brooklyn. Time Warner Cable's NY1 News will also air the debate at a different time.
News 12 president Pat Dolan said, "This is a unique political faceoff at a crucial time for New York voters." The gubernatorial debate follows News 12's debates with candidates running for Congress and State Legislature.
Newsday publisher Fred Groser added, "We want to help enable voters to make educated decisions, and this forum will provide a deeper view of the candidates and their positions."
Hofstra hosted the third and final debate of the 2008 presidential campaign between Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain. Citing New York's many problems, Hofstra president Stuart Rabinowitz said Thursday, "This election is a critical one . . . and hosting a debate is an important public service."