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Long IslandPoliticsSpin Cycle

Election rivals hammer Cuomo, as incumbent skips debate (UPDATED)

Republican Rob Astorino and Democrat Zephyr Teachout called

Republican Rob Astorino and Democrat Zephyr Teachout called Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo “corrupt” at a debate the incumbent skipped Thursday. Photo Credit: Newsday / Howard Schnapp / Danielle Finkelstein

Rivals from the right and left called Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo “corrupt” at a debate the incumbent skipped Thursday.

Republican Rob Astorino and Democrat Zephyr Teachout, sharing a common target, hammered the incumbent throughout the 40-minute forum on WNYC, a New York City public radio station. They said Cuomo’s economic policies haven’t improved the state’s outlook, that his waffling on natural gas drilling hasn’t resolved the issue and that his shuttering of an anti-corruption commission was self-serving.

In regards to that panel, widely known as the Moreland Commission, host Brian Lehrer asked each if Cuomo was “corrupt.”

“Yes ... absolutely,” Astorino said.

“He is what we call corrupt,” Teachout concluded after saying she didn’t want to use the word lightly.

Cuomo faces Teachout in a Democratic primary Tuesday. The winner faces Astorino, the Westchester County executive, in the fall.

Teachout is considered a long shot but predicted: “We are going to see a historic upset.” The Fordham University law professor has criticized Cuomo's business-tax and education policies as beholden to “big bankers” and says he has generated plenty of “truly disappointed and betrayed Democrats.”

Astorino has bashed Cuomo's economic plans, too, but for other reasons. He says the state has too many taxes and regulations and that a Cuomo plan to allow businesses that build near state university campuses go tax free is too selective and runs afoul free-market ideas.

Cuomo so far has refused to participate in any debates.

Earlier this week, when asked what message his refusal to debate would send to voters, the incumbent said: “I don’t think it has anything to do with democracy. ... I’ve been in many debates that I think were a disservice to democracy, so anyone who says debates are always a service to democracy hasn’t watched all the debates that I’ve been in.”

  In his absence, the Cuomo administration and the state Democratic Committee were active during the debate. While Astorino and Teachout deliberated, the Cuomo administration sent out a slew of announcements on tax cheats, ethics cheats, solar energy grants and bills the governor had signed.

 And former Gov. David A. Paterson, whom Cuomo installed as state Democratic chairman, brazenly berated Teachout for participating in the debate, saying she shouldn’t have give Astorino a format for his “extreme conservative” views.

“Zephyr Teachout claims to be a progressive but today will be her second campaign event alongside the ultraconservative Republican nominee,” Paterson said in a statement. “Providing a platform for Rob Astorino to promote his extreme conservative agenda — anti-choice, anti-gay, anti-gun safety — will do nothing to further the progressive movement in New York. I guess her progressive ideals are negotiable if there’s a media opportunity involved.”

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