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Finally, a governor’s race debate ... sort of

ALBANY _ New York’s governor’s race will get its first debate  but Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo isn’t expected to show up.

His top Democratic primary challenger, Zephyr Teachout, will debate with Republican nominee Rob Astorino on Sept. 4. The WNYC-FM debate will be held during the Brian Lehrer Show.

Cuomo has so far refused to talk about any debates as he seeks his second term riding high in the polls and with $30 million more in his campaign fund than Teachout and Astorino combined.

Astorino and Teachout have said if Cuomo won’t debate them, they will debate each other to present their views and challenge Cuomo’s record.

The deal for the debate, however, drew fire from Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins.

“Cuomo is ducking everyone and Astorino is ducking me,” Hawkins said. “The big losers are the voters who don’t hear the candidates debate the issues. Instead they get subjected to Cuomo’s $40 million Madison Avenue onslaught of media ads. We need more than Pepsi vs. Coke commercials.”

Also not included the debate is Randy Credico, the comedian-activist who is also on the Democratic primary ballot running for governor.

In 2010, Hawkins attracted enough votes as a gubernatorial candidate for the Green Party to gain the third highest spot in this November’s election behind the Democratic and Republican parties.

Political scientists said incumbents often refuse to debate or limit debates because they are giving exposure to little-known challengers. Good-government advocates said the debates are essential to voters to cut through slick TV ad blitzes.

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