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Hofstra readies for Democratic primary debate between Cuomo, Nixon

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo on Friday,

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo on Friday, April 27, 2018 in Westbury. Cynthia Nixon speaks at Albany Houses 1414 Bergen St. Brooklyn, NY, March 28, 2018. Credit: Howard Schnapp / Corey Sipkin

CBS/2 and Hofstra University are gearing up to host the only debate between Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and primary challenger Cynthia Nixon, two weeks before Democrats decide who will face Republican gubernatorial candidate Marc Molinaro in November.

 Wednesday's hour-long event will take place in the university’s David S. Mack Sports and Exhibition Complex in Hempstead before an audience of about 150. There are no tickets available to the public.

The debate will air on television at 7 p.m. and is being offered to CBS affiliates across the state. There will be a simulcast in Spanish on WLNY TV-10/55, a broadcast on radio station 1010 WINS and it will be made available online -- live and archived -- at CBSNewYork.com and on Facebook.

Nixon, 52, an activist and actress best known for her role on television's “Sex and the City,” has been challenging Cuomo, 60, the two-term incumbent to a televised debate for months. Recent polls show Cuomo leading Nixon by 30 points.

The candidates are expect to be seated and field questions from moderator Maurice DuBois, co-anchor of CBS/2 News, and Marcia Kramer, chief political correspondent at WCBS-TV. There will be no closing or opening statements, officials said.

Hofstra is the only school to have hosted debates in three consecutive presidential election cycles --  2008, 2012 and 2016.

“We obviously do debates well. We have a lot of experience. We know how to do it,” Hofstra President Stuart Rabinowitz said. “We are a natural venue now in New York for these political debates.”

CBS/2 is paying the bulk of the cost for the debate. The university is expected to spend about $50,000 to $100,000, Rabinowitz said.

Students are expected to return to campus for the 2018 fall semester the morning following the debate. The university created a “Hofstra Votes” initiative to encourage participation in the upcoming midterm election, Rabinowitz said.

Unlike past presidential debates, none of the roads surrounding the campus are expected to be closed for the Cuomo-Nixon event and there is no additional cost to the county, Nassau County Police Det. Lt. Richard LeBrun said.

“Our Intelligence Unit is also working with federal, state and local officials to ensure the safety of all involved,” LeBrun said.  

The winner of the Sept. 13 primary election will face Molinaro, 42, the Dutchess County executive.   

Nassau Democratic Committee Chairman Jay Jacobs said he was unsure if his schedule would permit him to attend the debate. He said that despite the divisions in the party, the Democrats “will come together after the primary.”

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